The Master and Margarita

First of all let us reveal the secret which the master did not wish to reveal to Ivanushka. His beloved’s name was Margarita1 Nikolaevna. Everything the master told the poor poet about her was the exact truth. He described his beloved correctly. She was beautiful and intelligent. To that one more thing must be added: it can be said with certainty that many women would have given anything to exchange their lives for the life of Margarita Nikolaevna. The childless thirty-year-old Margarita was the wife of a very prominent specialist, who, moreover, had made a very important discovery of state significance. Her husband was young, handsome, kind, honest, and adored his wife. The two of them, Margarita and her husband, occupied the entire top floor of a magnificent house in a garden on one of the lanes near the Arbat. A charming place! Anyone can be convinced of it who wishes to visit this garden. Let them inquire of me, and I will give them the address, show them the way – the house stands untouched to this day.

Mikhail Bulgakov “The Master and Margarita (Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)”



Anna Karenina

Levin went along the high-road with long strides, attending not so much to his thoughts – he could not yet disentangle them – as to a condition of his soul he had never before experienced.

The words the peasant had spoken produced in his soul the effect of an electric spark, suddenly transforming and welding into one a whole group of disjointed impotent separate ideas which had always interested him.  These ideas, through he had been unconscious of them, had been in his mind when he was talking about letting the land.

He felt something new in his soul and probed this something with pleasure, not yet knowing what it was.

‘To live not for one’s needs but fo God!  For what God?  What could be more senseless than what he said?  He said we must not live for our needs – that is, we must not live for what we understand and what attracts us, what we wish for, but must live for something incomprehensible, for God whom nobody can understand or define.’

from Leo Tolstoy “Anna Karenina” (Translated by Louise & Aylmer Maude)

Köln, Germany in November, 2010.