Chapter 9

Koroviev's Tricks

[Korov'evskie shtuki]

Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoi

supernatural speed--The news of Berlioz's death spreads with supernatural speed. Like Berlioz's glasses "of supernatural proportions" in Chapter 1, this detail is one of Bulgakov's many little jokes.


checked jacket, jockey cap, and pince-nez--Koroviev's costume here recalls that of the devil who appears to Ivan Karamazov in Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov.


Today I'm unofficial, but tomorrow I might be official--This is meant both as an indication of the chaos of Soviet life and as a nod to Nikolai Gogol: in his "Overcoat" a major character is known only as the Important Person. "All we need say is that this Important Person had become important only a short while before, and that until then he had been an unimportant person." (Diary of a Madman and Other Stories [NY: Penguin, 1972], 96)

let's say Koroviev--Koroviev's name, like Woland's nationality, is merely tentative.


Intourist Office--Intourist (which comes from inostrannyi [foreign] turist [tourist]) functioned both as a tourist office and a branch of the NKVD to keep an eye on dangerous foreigners. See the discussion of foreigners.

But where are the witnesses?--Pilate makes a similar comment to Kaifa in Chapter 2.

Messire--As is the case with Pilate (Hegemon) and the Master, there is an appropriate way to address Woland. Messire is a French honorific used for lords and priests.

the telephone

Timofei Kvastsov