By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:
- Discuss the aesthetic pleasure that great literature can give us (that tingle in the spine mentioned by Nabokov)
- Discuss how careful, detailed reading will enhance our understanding and therefore pleasure
- Give examples of insights into the workings of the first Communist state on earth
- Describe the innovative novel structure and writing methods Bulgakov used to achieve his goal
Your online learning will include the following methods:
- Reading course materials, including Master and Margarita
- Participation in written discussions with other students
- Participation in videoconference seminars
For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.
Week 1: Bulgakov's life under Stalin and the drama of the creation of Master and Margarita
“In the broad field of Russian letters in the USSR I was the one and only literary wolf. I was advised to dye my fur. Absurd advice” (Bulgakov). Forced into silence by Stalin's ideologues, Bulgakov burnt his manuscript. It took him 12 years to restore the novel, still unfinished by the time of his death at the age of 49. Russian “literary widows”: the remarkable Elena Bulgakova and her role in safeguarding and publishing the novel after her husband's death.
Week Two: Chapters 1 – 10
Faith versus atheism, reality perceived and real. The book’s unusual structure, linking Moscow of 1920s and Judea of Christ's time. Two narrative modes: satire and historical drama.
Week Three: Chapters 11 – 21
The relationship between the artist and political power. Fear versus courage, betrayal and its punishment. The role of a heroine who saves the timid Master through personal courage.
Week Four: Chapters 27 – 32
Can justice be restored in the fallen world? Deciphering the meaning of “Satan's Ball.”
Books, materials and resources
You may purchase the required book from your preferred local or online bookstore.
- Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov (any translation)
All other reading materials will be available using SFU's online course management system, Canvas.