Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

by Mikhail Bulgakov

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Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby Liz » Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:26 am

From the Commentary on the epigraph:

In addition to the direct reference to Goethe’s work about a devil-tempter who comes to a scholar, the epigraph introduces the theme of heresy, one which will be reinforced throughout this novel by means of allusions to historical figures accused of heresy.

Who do you think are the famous heretics that Bulgakov alludes to?

Comment on the epigraph itself:


….and so who are you, after all?

--I am part of the power
Which forever wills evil
And forever works good.

GOETHE’S Faust


How does the Faust story relate to the Master and Margarita story?
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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:27 pm

Maybe off topic, but somewhere --maybe the Faust tidbit? :perplexed: -- The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus was mentioned. That was something I could connect with.

I think the theme of selling one's soul to the devil has been a frequent theme in fiction -- Faust being only one of the stories. However, for Margarita trading her soul eventually got her what she wanted -- eternity with the Master.

I wonder if the atheist position of the government was one of the things Bulgakov was thinking of when he spoke of heresy.

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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby Liz » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:02 pm

nebraska wrote:I wonder if the atheist position of the government was one of the things Bulgakov was thinking of when he spoke of heresy.

I imagine so. But I found a book tonight about the writer Zamyatin, who Firefly did a tidbit on. The title of the book was: "Zamyatin: a Soviet heretic."

So it seems to me that there are all sorts of heretics that Bulgakov could be referring to. Heretics against the Orthodox Church and heretics against the state.

Actually, Jesus was considered a heretic.
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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:00 pm

Definition #3 after two that specifically refer to someone not conforming to a religious principle: "anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle". So yes, not conforming to the Soviet atheist state not to mention the rest of the rules and regulations, could be a heretic. And Jesus, in not fitting the old Jewish traditions, was indeed a heretic. I guess I think of a heretic as being a bad thing, but a heretic could be an innovator as well as well as a rebel.

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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby Buster » Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:14 pm

a heretic could be an innovator as well as well as a rebel.

You're right, nebraska - Do you think we've come back around to talking about subversiveness again?

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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby Liz » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:58 pm

Buster wrote:
a heretic could be an innovator as well as well as a rebel.

You're right, nebraska - Do you think we've come back around to talking about subversiveness again?

I do not think that it is necessarily a bad thing, and seems to fit into the way Bulgakov views the world (in grays and subversively) and how he likes to tweak things.
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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:37 pm

I very much like Nebraska's idea of heretic as innovator! I think heretics are individuals willing to stand up in public and embrace a way of thinking that runs counter to the mainstream perspective. A heretic can be an artist who breaks all the rules, is initially shunned by other artists, and eventually comes to be seen as the guy that lead the way forward. The same could be said of scientists who've proposed theories that run counter to what the prevailing scientific community believes.

I would also say that heretics are brave individuals because they are willing to publicly speak truth to power. Martin Luther was labeled a heretic by the Catholic Church, as was Galileo. Frankly we could probably fill this entire page with the names of individuals convicted of heresy by the Catholic Church!

Closed systems deny the right of individuals to come to decisions freely without the need to follow a proscribed order of thinking. Calling someone a heretic is an isolating act, a form of banishment, done in hopes that if new ideas are pushed to the margins, no one will notice them.

So in Russia, yes, writers were held under a microscope, because of their ability to articulate ideas -- a fearsome power. Those writers who did not tread the party line, because of what they wrote about, or the values their writings espoused, were heretics, to be exiled, silenced or even put to death.
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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:35 am

I wanted to reread the Faust tidbit before replying, since that tidbit contains all my present knowledge on the subject. Heresy aside (and I agree with you all by the way - good call nebraska!) Faust and The Master and Margarita really are related aren't they? It’s almost as if Bulgakov took Faust and twisted it. Margarita, instead of being the victim is the hero, and the one who makes the deal with the devil is no longer damned but rather rewarded. To me it’s really a fascinating spin on the story. And a bit heretical, no? :eyebrow:

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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby Liz » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:28 pm

RamblinRebel wrote:I wanted to reread the Faust tidbit before replying, since that tidbit contains all my present knowledge on the subject. Heresy aside (and I agree with you all by the way - good call nebraska!) Faust and The Master and Margarita really are related aren't they? It’s almost as if Bulgakov took Faust and twisted it. Margarita, instead of being the victim is the hero, and the one who makes the deal with the devil is no longer damned but rather rewarded. To me it’s really a fascinating spin on the story. And a bit heretical, no? :eyebrow:

:lol: Yes.

I also think that Master and Margarita is very Faustian. And I see Margarita not only as Faust (because she made the deal with the devil) but as Margaret from Faust in that she was instrumental in paving the way for Pilate to get into heaven.
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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:23 pm

Liz wrote:I also think that Master and Margarita is very Faustian. And I see Margarita not only as Faust (because she made the deal with the devil) but as Margaret from Faust in that she was instrumental in paving the way for Pilate to get into heaven.
:yes: :interesting:
So is Faust the reason Woland requires a woman by the name of Margarita? :ohyes:

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Re: Master and Margarita Question #24 - Faust

Unread postby Liz » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:39 pm

Maybe so.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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