The Master and Margarita

English translations

There are quite a few published English translations of The Master and Margarita, including but not limited to the following:

  • Mirra Ginsburg's 1967 version for Grove Press[17]
  • Michael Glenny's 1967 version for Harper and Row and Harvill Press[18]
  • Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor's 1993 version for Ardis Publishing[19]
  • Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's 1997 version for Penguin Books[20]
  • Michael Karpelson's 2006 version[21]
  • Hugh Aplin's 2008 version for Oneworld Publications[22]

Ginsburg's translation was from a censored Soviet text and is therefore incomplete.

The early translation by Glenny runs more smoothly than that of the modern translations; some Russian-speaking readers consider it to be the only one creating the desired effect, though it may be somewhat at liberty with the text.[23] The modern translators pay for their attempted closeness by losing idiomatic flow.

However, according to Kevin Moss, who has at least two published papers on the book in literary journals, the early translations by Ginsburg and Glenny are quite hurried and lack much critical depth.[24] As an example, he claims that the more idiomatic translations miss Bulgakov's "crucial" reference to the devil in Berlioz's thought:

  • "I ought to drop everything and run down to Kislovodsk." (Glenny)
  • "It's time to throw everything to the devil and go to Kislovodsk." (Burgin and Tiernan O'Connor)
  • "It's time to send it all to the devil and go to Kislovodsk." (Pevear and Volokhonsky)
  • "To hell with everything, it's time to take that Kislovodsk vacation." (Karpelson)
  • "It's time to let everything go to the devil and be off to Kislovodsk." (Aplin)

Several literary critics have hailed the Burgin/Tiernan O’Connor translation as the most accurate and complete English translation, particularly when read in tandem with the matching annotations by Bulgakov's biographer, Ellendea Proffer.[25] However, these judgements predate the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky. Professor Jeffrey Grossman of the University of Virginia promotes the Karpelson translation in his courses on Faust because Karpelson's rendition balances readability and idiomatic accuracy.

SelfMadeHero published a graphic novel adaptation by Andrzej Klimowski and Danusia Schejbal in 2008.

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