Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Master and Margarita: The Devil finds it's way into Bar Fight! How a classic work of Soviet Literature influenced the novel Bar Fight just a little…



I have actually made a friend here in Rome!  Taking an interest in my writing they gave me a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov's Stalin-era satire The Master and Margarita as a sort of birthday gift and I read it right away.

I hated it.

Turning from one page to the next of The Master and Margarita was like sorting through garbage.  The friend had arrived alone at a party my roommates threw and after we hung out a few times insisted it was their favorite book.

The Master and Margarita is a novel Bulgakov began writing in 1928, destroyed completely in 1930, completed a third draft of in 1937 and died before finishing his fourth copy in 1940.

It wasn't published until the 1960's and much of it then still was censored.

In The Master and Margarita the devil and his entourage appear in atheist Moscow in the 1930's for the sake of proving to a bunch of writers that God really does exist!

It also tells the story of the devil hangin' out in Jerusalem with Pontius Pilate sometime around the year 28 or 30 C.E. (a.k.a, A.D.) or so.

Devil knows where the Rolling Stones found their inspiration for the song, Sympathy for the Devil.

I'm sure if I actually did some research I would find that The Master and Margarita must have faced criticism for it's inaccurate recounting of the stories behind the gospel (treating many of them as myth).

It's a fiction novel.

All of this has absolutely nothing to do with Bar Fight.

What does have something to with Bar Fight ;

The relationship between the devil and his accomplices in the book, to me, began to parallel the relationship between the two main characters in the novel Bar Fight, Michael and Matthew, who go around trashing bars in rebellion of a way of thought (and many ways authority) they see as estranged from the truth.

In The Master and Margarita the devil and his accomplices reveal the superficiality of a modern society (and flaws of Soviet authority) as they go around wrecking havoc and destruction on Moscow. 


Michael and Matthew in Bar Fight are anti-heros.

One of the devil's accomplices in The Master and Margarita is a cat who can "walk on its hind legs" and "ride the tram car all by itself."

None of the characters in Bar Fight are a cat.

Vandalism in front of the
Palazzo della Civilta
Italiana, EUR, Rome

The Master and Margarita put a spell over me, oddly, I never ceased to find it fascinating and the little influence it had on Bar Fight probably made me appreciate it more. 

The friend gave it to me after I was dragged to an all night disco, where I faithfully awaited for John Travolta to bust out a move at any moment, it really was a disco.

They have discos in Europe!

They really do!

The last thing my friend asked me that night was if I would find my way back to my apartment?

Of course I would!

I took the wrong bus, rode around vague parts of the city for an hour with a bunch of drunks, got off at the last stop, walked across some strange residential place, climbed a hill, tried to see if I could even see the city of Rome anymore, which I could not, got back on the bus, waited a half an hour, spent an hour riding around vague parts of the city with a bunch of sleeping homeless persons to the spot I first got onto the bus, then walked an hour back to my apartment.

Oddly that was the last time in my journey I ever saw that particular friend.

Pah, the Devil!

The next morning it snowed in Rome for the first time since the 1980's.  There was a half an inch that caused a lot of chaos and melted by the time I woke up in the afternoon.

In the future I will read The Master and Margarita again and determine it to be one of my favorite books.  Michael and Matthew will forever be stirring up a brawl in some other world and I will remain very open to outside influence as I write.  Most importantly everything written in this blog is true.  It is based on an email sent on 2/16/2010. 

The Master and Margarita, Penguin Books

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