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Article

The Three Stages of Evil: The Writers in "The Master and Margarita" and the Rejection of Evil in Psalm 1

Scando-Slavica. 2017. Vol. 63. No. 2. P. 212-226.

The paper examines the rejection of evil as an important narrative pattern in The Master and Margarita. Despite the unorthodox and controversial representation of evil and the absence of an unequivocal solution to this problem, Bulgakov’s novel foregrounds the situations in which the characters are supposed to identify and reject evil. For this reason, the metaphors of evil in Psalm 1, which also emphasizes the rejection of evil, are instrumental to the analysis of Bulgakov’s text. The particular focus of the paper is the Moscow writers familiar with the Eršalaim story. This narrative functions as the ultimate artistic truth in the novel, and the knowledge of it compels the characters to abandon their involvement in the production of untruthful literature. Because they fail to do so, their behavior may be described by means of the metaphors that define the three subsequent stages of evil in the first verse of the psalm. Walking is associated with Ivan who moves to a new perception of reality; standing with the critics denouncing the Master; and sitting with Berlioz who ridicules evident things in order to render them meaningless. The analysis draws on Sergej Averincev’s commentary on Psalm 1.