A collection of quotes from this enchanting book.
“The Master and Margarita” was pushed upon my hands by complete random. It belonged to a friend of a friend and had started circulating within these social circles – often the sign of a good book, combined with the old Warsaw Pact countries’ tradition of the unregulated passing on of ‘subversive’ books hand to hand.
I did not quite know what to expect, but after having read it, nothing in the world can describe my attachment to this book. I shall avoid praising it, as the only thing that could do this novel justice is one reading it oneself and thus appreciate it. The following is a selection of quotes which, I hope, shall spark the interest of those who have not read it yet:
- “You’re not Dostoevsky,’ said the citizeness, who was getting muddled by Koroviev. Well, who knows, who knows,’ he replied.
‘Dostoevsky’s dead,’ said the citizeness, but somehow not very confidently.
‘I protest!’ Behemoth exclaimed hotly. ‘Dostoevsky is immortal!”
- “There is no greater misfortune in the world than the loss of reason.”
- “What would your good be doing if there were no evil, and what would the earth look like if shadows disappeared from it? After all, shadows are cast by objects and people. There is the shadow of my sword. But there are also shadows of trees and living creatures. Would you like to denude the earth of all the trees and all the living beings in order to satisfy your fantasy of rejoicing in the naked light?”
- “Most bad,” the host concluded. “If you ask me, something sinister lurks in men who avoid wine, games, the company of lovely women, and dinnertime conversation. Such people are either gravely ill or secretly detest everyone around them.”
- “The tongue can conceal the truth, but the eyes never! You’re asked an unexpected question, you don’t even flinch, it takes just a second to get yourself under control, you know just what you have to say to hide the truth, and you speak very convincingly, and nothing in your face twitches to give you away. But the truth, alas, has been disturbed by the question, and it rises up from the depths of your soul to flicker in your eyes and all is lost.”
- “Is that vodka?” Margarita asked weakly.
The cat jumped up in his seat with indignation.
“I beg pardon, my queen,” he rasped, “Would I ever allow myself to offer vodka to a lady? This is pure alcohol!”
- “But what can be done, the one who loves must share the fate of the one he loves.”
- “Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that.”
- “Love leaped out in front of us like a murderer in an alley leaping out of nowhere, and struck us both at once. As lightning strikes, as a Finnish knife strikes! She, by the way, insisted afterwards that it wasn’t so, that we had, of course, loved each other for a long, long time, without knowing each other, never having seen each other… ”
- “Punch a man on the nose, kick an old man downstairs, shoot somebody or any old thing like that, that’s my job. But argue with women in love—no thank you!”
- “I’ll go to bed, forget myself in sleep.”
- “How sad, ye Gods, how sad the world is at evening, how mysterious the mists over the swamps! You will know it when you have wandered astray in those mists, when you have suffered greatly before dying, when you have walked through the world carrying an unbearable burden. You know it too when you are weary and ready to leave this earth without regret; its mists; its swamps and its rivers; ready to give yourself into the arms of death with a light heart, knowing that death alone can comfort you.”
- “We speak different languages, as usual,” responded Woland, “but this does not change the things we speak about. Well?…”
- “Follow me, reader! Who told you that there is no true, faithful, eternal love in this world! May the liar’s vile tongue be cut out! Follow me, my reader, and me alone, and I will show you such a love!”
- “I believe!’ Margarita whispered solemnly. ‘I believe! Something will happen! It cannot not happen, because for what, indeed, has lifelong torment been sent to me? I admit that I lied and deceived and lived a secret life, hidden from people, but all the same the punishment for it cannot be so cruel…Something is bound to happen, because it cannot be that anything will go on for ever…”
- “…But as soon as the dirty snow disappeared from the sidewalks and streets, as soon as the slightly rotten, disquieting spring breeze wafted through the window, Margarita Nikolaevna began to grieve more than in winter. She often wept in secret, a long and bitter weeping. She did not know who it was she loved: a living man or a dead one? And the longer the desperate days went on, the more often, especially at twilight, did the thought come to her that she was bound to a dead man.
She had either to forget him or to die herself. It was impossible to drag on with such a life. Impossible! Forget him, whatever the cost—forget him! But he would not be forgotten, that was the trouble.”
- “Man is mortal, and as the professor so rightly said mortality can come so suddenly”
- “But this is what disturbs me: if there is no God, then, the question is, who is in control of man’s life and the whole order of things on earth?”
- “But what is most terrifying is not the executioner, but the unnatural light in the dream, coming from a cloud that is boiling and tumbling on the earth, as always at moments of world catastrophe.”
- “Really, I would pawn my soul to the devil to find out whether he is alive or dead.”
“Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that.”