The other day I read that the book was Soon to Become a Major Motion Picture (not that is hasn't already been made into motion pictures and TV series), so I thought it was time for me to see what I'd been missing. The edition I picked up was published by Penguin Classics in 1997, and it's about 400 pages (not counting the end notes) of tiny print, not the kind of thing I usually read, but I persevered.
There are several main plot threads in the novel, but they're all connected with the arrival one day of the Devil and several of his pals (that's one of them on the cover pictured above) in Moscow. Hijinks ensue, to say the least. I'm not sure whether to call the book a fantasy or magical realism. Maybe some of you can help me out. Another plot thread has to do with Pontius Pilate on the day he condemns Jesus to be crucified. This is both a story told by the Devil and a novel written by the Master, who hardly appears in the first half of the book. Margarita appears even less and doesn't figure at all until the second half. But those two are the third strand of the plot, which I won't try to unwind for you. It's one of those books you just have to read for yourself.
If I knew more about the political, social, and literary goings on in Russia in the 1930s, maybe I could some up with some comments about the book's satire. I'm pretty ignorant of all those things, however, so I just enjoyed the story, the wild happenings, the humor, and the characters, who, I must admit, were a bit hard to keep up with because of the Russian names and the fact that everybody seems to have at least three or four names, most of which aren't like the others. Is this one of the great books of the 20th century, as it's often been called? You can't prove it by me, but I'm glad I read it.