Chapter 13

The Appearance of the Hero

[Iavlenie geroia]

Enter the Hero --The Russian is closer to "The Appearance of the Hero," "appearance" (iavlenie) being the word used for Christ's showing himself to the people in the Bible.

clean-shaven, dark haired man of about thirty-eight (Gogol?)

we're sitting here, sitting

I can't tolerate noise, rows, violence people screaming

don't you like my poetry?

are your poems any good? "Horrible!"

foreign currency, Pushkin, Kurolesov

the critic Latunsky

Mstislav Lavrovich

the opera "Faust"

cap that had the letter M embroidered on it in yellow silk

I no longer have a name

a historian by training

he won 100,000 rubles in the lottery

completely private apartment

a sink with running water

the last words of the novel

a marvelous restaurant on the Arbat

disturbing yellow flowers

off Tverskaya into a side street


love like a murderer, a Finnish knife

embankment by the Kremlin wall

my secret wife

he would never tell anyone her name

writing desk, books from floor to ceiling

a novel on such a strange subject


Completely joyless autumn days

Aloisy Mogarych

started to burn them

in the middle of January

Ivan and the Master at the clinic

we're sitting here, sitting--the verb used in Russian, "sidim," implies "we are in prison."

I can't tolerate noise, rows, violence people screaming--The Master's aversion to noise and screaming almost literally repeats the words of Wagner in Faust (Chudakova Tvorcheskaia istoriia 235).

don't you like my poetry? The Master dislikes Ivan's poetry without ever having read it. Bulgakov is commenting on the low quality and unoriginal nature of accepted and published Soviet poetry. If Ivan is published and famous, it means he can't be good!

are your poems any good? "Horrible!"--literally "monstrous." Michael Glenny got this terribly wrong--his translation says "Stupendous." Even Ivan is aware that his officially-approved poems are no good.

foreign currency, Pushkin, Kurolesov--Bulgakov again introduces a character without letting us know who he is. The explanation comes in Chapter 15.

the opera "Faust"--Bulgakov mentions his favorite opera here, elsewhere he merely uses the details

cap that had the letter M embroidered on it in yellow silk--Bulgakov too wore such a cap! The letter M mirrors another letter that appears alone in this chapter; and the color yellow is also not insignificant.

I no longer have a name--the Master's name is never revealed

a historian by training--like Woland, the Master is a historian who knows, among other languages, German (Faust, Kant, Woland), Latin, and Greek (Pilate, Ieshua).

a sink with running water --Some older buildings still had no running water. The Master is said to be proud of this sink "for some reason." The reason us that in communal apartments sinks were normally only in shared areas of kitchen and bathroom. Unlike many people, the Master could wash in private.

the last words of the novel would be: "The fifth procurator of Judea, the knight Pontius Pilate" -- watch for these words in Bulgakov's novel. According to Farrar and the Brokgauz-Efron Encyclopedia Pilate was the sixth procurator. N. K. Makkaveiskii and G. Gretts considered him the fifth. Bulgakov may have chosen the latter for reasons of prosody and euphony (see Chudakova, M. A. Bulgakov-chitatel', 172-73 and Ianovskaia, Tvorcheskii put', 251).

Tverskaya--the main street of Moscow. Later renamed Gorky St., now again Tverskaya (because it is the road to Tver', later renamed Kalinin, now again Tver').

love like a murderer, a Finnish knife--the connection between love and knives is not accidental, and shortly a knife-grinder shows up at the Master's window instead of Margarita.

my secret wife --The Master's affair with Margarita mimics that of Bulgakov with Elena Sergeevna Shilovskaia, who left her well-positioned military husband for the relatively less-well-off writer. When they met, they left a party on Bolshoi Gnezdnikovsky per. (just off Tverskaya--see map) to stroll around Moscow. At first their affair was difficult (both were married), but Elena Sergeevna eventually became Bulgakov's wife. The character of Margarita only appeared in the novel after Bulgakov met Shilovskaia.

he would never tell anyone her name--we learn in Part II, but not from the Master.

a novel on such a strange subject --There are parallels here between Bulgakov's life and the Master's. Bulgakov's first novel, White Guard, was only partially published in a journal in 1925, but he read it to various literary groups, whose general reaction was that one could never get a work on such a subject published. The real attacks, however, came in 1926 when Bulgakov turned the novel into a hit play for the Moscow Art Theater under the name The Days of the Turbins. Nothing could have been stranger than Bulgakov's subject, which was about the fate of a pro-monarchist family in Kiev during the Civil War. The attacks described in this section of The Master and Margarita are clearly distillations of the ones various critics made on Bulgakov's plays.

Ariman --Bulgakov has given a real critic (Averbakh) the name of Zoroastrian evil spirit.

Completely joyless autumn days --The time of year is meaningful to Russian readers, since autumn and spring were times of increased arrests, as the government tried to distract the populace from the regime's economic and cultural failures.

started to burn them Bulgakov himself did this with a number of his manuscripts (including an early version of Master and Margarita) in 1930, when he was effectively banned from the theaters. Many of the details of the Master's anxiety are autobiographical. In the mid 1930s Bulgakov suffered from agoraphobia and was treated by various methods.

in the middle of January The Master has clearly been arrested, as the detail of the coat with the buttons torn off shows (Soviet prisons of the time habitually cut if all buttons on the clothes of prisoners), as does the meaningful "knock at the door." The Master appears to have been held only three months, and then sent to the clinic.