Reading «Мастер и Маргарита»: Chapter 12 Posted by on Aug 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Chapter 12 – «Явление героя» [“The Appearance of the Hero”, or an even better English translation might be: ”The Hero Appears”] – is where we, the readers of “Master & Margarita”, finally come to understand what the novel’s title means. In this chapter an enigmatic «гость» [mas. guest] comes into the room of «Иван Бездомный» [Ivan ‘Homeless’] in the mental hospital in the middle of the night – through the balcony. During his visit he asks about how Ivan came to be there as well as manages to tell the story of his life, all without ever mentioning his own name. Not even once! The stranger is fascinated with how Ivan’s arrival to the mental hospital is tightly linked to Pontius Pilate – a historical figure about whom he himself once wrote an entire novel. After receiving this piece of curious information Ivan asks the mysterious man: «Вы – писатель?» [”Are you a writer?”]. But he almost corrects him: «Я – мастер» [“I am a master”]. He points at this hat which has the letter «М» sown onto it in yellow silk and comments: «Она своими руками сшила её мне» [“She sew it for me with her own hands”]. Who is «она» [she]? The Master does not mention her name while telling Ivan the whole story about how they met. But we all can guess that she must be the «Маргарита» [Margarita] from the book’s title, right? Chapter 12 might just as well be called «Явление героя и героини» [“The appearance of the Hero and the Heroine”] for from this chapter on she comes to play an equally important part to the story as he does – perhaps an even greater one! In my strictly personal opinion, the title of the novel might just as well have been «Маргарита и Мастер» [“Margarita and The Master”] instead of the other way around. Chapter 12 is only our first introduction to the novel’s two ‘main’ characters, but the further we reach in their stories and their involvement in the plot, the more will we understand that it is not entirely clear who of these two are really «главный» [main, chief, principal; head (in mas. sing.)] – or should I perhaps say «главная» [the same adjective but in fem. sing]?

Chapter 12 is where the according to some scholars «фантастический роман» [fantastic/fantasy novel] transforms from «реалистический роман с элементами фантастики» [a realistic novel with elements of fantasy] into «любовный роман» [a love novel]. Or it might be more correct to call that aspect of the novel for «история одной любви» [the history of one love] – what love is that, you might ask? Well, the love «между мастером и одной замужней женщиной» [between the Master and one married woman] «без имени» [without a name]. We all realize that she’s «Маргарита» [Margarita] – as we find out that their love came upon them like a thief on the street, according to what the Master told Ivan.

Since they are indeed a «знаменитая пара из русской литературы» [famous couple from Russian literature], I thought to myself: “Why not finish this post with a quiz to see if you can pair some literary couples with the books that chronicle their love story?” I had a bit of «кризис с фантазией и памятью» [crisis with (my) fantasy and memory] while trying to come up with at least five couples – not all of them necessarily had a happy ending. If you know more couples than this, please share them in the comments (and don’t forget to mention in which book we might find them)!

1. «Соня и Раскольников» [Sonia and Raskol’nikov];

2. «Лара и Живаго» [Lara and Zhivago];

3. «Наташа и Безухов» [Natasha and Bezukhov];

4. «Татьяна и Онегин» [Tatiana and Onegin];

5. «Одинцова и Базаров» [Odintsova and Bazarov].


A. «Война и мир» [“War and Peace”];

B. «Отцы и дети» [“Fathers and Sons”];

C. «Преступление и наказание» [“Crime and Punishment”];

D. «Евгений Онегин» [“Evgeny Onegin”]

E. «Доктор Живаго» [“Doctor Zhivago”].

Leave your answers – or guesses, if that’s how you’d rather define them – in the comments like this “1 + E” (if you think that’s right). You get extra points if you can also add who the writers behind each of the novels are! I’ll publish the correct answers on Thursday. If this was super-easy for you, then let me introduce a more difficult task: How come (almost) all the female characters on the list above are mainly called by their first names, whereas the male go by their last names?

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  1. josefina:

    And I should probably add that I didn’t want to use ONLY couples from the works of Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky… but that doesn’t mean that you can’t suggest them in the comments!