Chapter 32

Absolution and Eternal Refuge

[Proshchenie i vechnyi priiut]

Gods, my Gods, knowing that death alone

Koroviev-Fagot/Dark Violet Knight

Behemoth/the best jester

Azazello/the demon of the waterless desert, the demon killer

A stony, joyless, flat summit

12,000 Moons

Romantic Master!

Listen to Schubert

Woland plunged into the gap

Someone was releasing the Master

the Master's anxious [without peace], needle-pricked memory began to fade

Sunday morning

fifth procurator of Judea, the knight Pontius Pilate

Gods, my Gods, knowing that death alone (would calm him)---This paragraph was written when Bulgakov knew that he was dying of nephrosclerosis. This last line of the paragraph was intentionally left unfinished, though some versions, at the suggestion of Bulgakov's wife Elena Sergeevna, add the "would calm him." The scene has several parallels. One is with the opera Aida when the lovers sing the duet "O terra, addio" [Farewell, Earth] before their death. Another is a literary parallel with the Gumilev's Creation (1918). The latter has the sense of flight, the mists rising from a swamp, the sad evening landscape. The likeness is mainly in the sensation created in both works.

Koroviev-Fagot/Dark Violet Knight­As they leave Moscow each of the members of Woland's suite turns back into his original form. Koroviev turns out to be a knight in dark-purple who once made a bad pun about darkness and light. The inspiration for this character seems to come from Cervantes' novel Don Quixote which Bulgakov adapted for stage in 1938. In the novel the knight Sanson, in order to force his friend Don Quixote to return home and give up being a knight, disguises himself as the Knight of the White Moon and challenges him to a duel. He beats Don Quixote, who when forced to return home cannot bear the collapse of his fantasies and dies. In this way Sanson becomes the unwilling cause of Don Quixote's death. Bulgakov alters Cervantes' name from Samson to Sanson or Sun-son, the son of the sun. Here Bulgakov plays on the themes of light and dark since the knight connected with the sun commits a dark deed while Don Quixote who had gone mad, and in that way is connected with darkness, actually comes across as a figure of light. The knight's unsuccessful joke is connected with the theme of light and dark. This theme again plays in with the epigraph of the novel itself about willing evil but actually accomplishing good. The dark violet of Korovyev's armor symbolizes the mourning and death of the lovers and their passage to a different world. This color was used in this way in the poetry and prose of the Russian Symbolists, and in particular Andrei Bely's poem The Last Meeting. (Sokolov)

Behemoth/the best jester--Behemoth turns out to be not a cat but a lean youth who according to Woland was the best jester the world had ever known. This transformation may be inspired by the character Tyl Eulenspiegel from Richard Strauss' symphonic poem or Charles de Coster's novel of the same name, which was popular in Russia. This Flemish jester played jokes wherever he went but ended by being beheaded. (Proffer)

Azazello/the demon of the waterless desert, the demon killer. This transformation appears to derive from the apocryphal book of Enoch, where the Lord commands the angel Rafael to bind Azaziel and throw him into the darkness and confine him in the desert. In the Old Testament book of Leviticus (16:8) Azazel is the name of the scapegoat whom the Jews chase out into the desert every year to take on all the guilt of their people.

A stony, joyless, flat summit--Most likely Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, as recounted in the apocryphal "Death of Pilate." The Romans buried him in the middle of the mountains. On every Good Friday the devil takes Pilate's body and places it on a throne of stone while Pilate washes his hands.

12,000 Moons­-this adds up to only 1000 years, not 2000.

Romantic Master! --Here Bulgakov sets himself apart from Socialist Realism of his time and identifies with the Romantics of the 19th Century such as Gogol or E.T.A. Hoffman by stressing the individual vision of the artist. He apparently identified with an article he read on Hoffman which expressed the following ideas that run throughout the novel: a real artist was doomed to solitude, art is powerless when confronted with a reality that is destructive to art, the artist is not of the ordinary world, clarity and peace are needed for creation, a man of genius faces two possibilities: to succumb to reality and become a philistine or to die before his time or go mad. The Romantic idea of the artist as a tool of divine inspiration is also present as a work of art is a revelation granted to the artist. The Master did not invent his story, but "guessed" it all. (Proffer)

Listen to Schubert­-this Romantic composer has several connections to Bulgakov. He died very young, set several poems of Goethe to music ,including one from Faust, suffered constant defeats in his life, and suffered from depression. Melancholy suicide and death were his themes.

Woland plunged into the gap­-this parallels the climax from Berlioz's Damnation of Faust

Someone was releasing the Master into freedom as he himself released the hero he created­-The description of the Master's final refuge could derive from a number of literary sources. In the theatrical prologue to Faust the Poet talks about the dream realm. The Master resembles Wagner, the proponent of humanitarian, book learning. It was Wagner who created the homunculus in a retort.

The Master's refuge also resembles the life of Kant as described by Heine: "Getting up, morning coffee, writing, giving lectures, lunch, strolling--everything took place at a specific time, and the neighbors knew precisely that it was 3:30 when Emmanuel Kant came out of his house in his gray coat with his reed cane and headed for the little alley to this day known as Philosophy Alley." (Heine. K istorii religii i filosofii v Germanii in Sobr. soch v 12 tt., t. 7 s. 103 quoted in Sokolov). The 1936 manuscript was even closer: "In a powdered wig, in your usual old kaftan, knocking with your cane, you will walk, stroll, and think" (Chudakova, Tvorcheskaia istoriia romana, 242).

the Master's anxious [without peace], needle-pricked memory began to fade--the Master's peace comes at the price of the loss of his memory, but it is his memory we must rely on for the preservation of his novel (see Chapter 30, where he declines to take the novel because "I remember it by heart" and "I shall never forget anything.").

Sunday morning­- Easter Sunday. Like Faust and The Divine Comedy, Master and Margarita is an Easter novel. Here the Moscow and Yershalaim scenes correspond with the timing in terms of days of the week.

fifth procurator of Judea, the knight Pontius Pilate--in Chapter 13 the Master says his novel about Pilate will end with exactly these words.