Bulgakov's Fesiya is Goethe's Faust?
Distorted Image by An(other) Englishman in Germany
A recent commentator, Thomas, from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium asked me a difficult question about my novella's dependence on Bulgakov:
You said your "story relies more on Bulgakov's retelling of Goethe's story in his inimitable magnum opus, The Master and Margarita".I don't actually know very much about that, but the question got me thinking:
Actually I've always been enormously intrigued by Boelgakov's work, and in particular by its relation with Goethe and the Faustian theme. The formal and "superficial" allusions are clear enough, but could you tell me more about the deeper substantive and thematic relation, beyond the central appearance of Satan as such for example, and the love between the Master and Margarete? Thanks a lot for any information on that point.
I'm no expert, and thus offer no depth, but Margarita seems the one bargaining with Satan (Woland) over the Master and his manuscript.And he likely had, for he replied:
That looks like a reversal of roles, but I'd need to re-read with that in mind to see what is implied by this reversal.
The Master seems oddly un-Faustian, weak-willed and dependent. If there's a Faust in this tale, it would appear to be Margarita, except that she's playing both roles -- Faust and Gretchen.
But you've probably already noticed these things . . .
Thanks for your interesting reaction, Jeffery!I admitted my ignorance:
Recently I read in a Boelgakov comment that in the primitive version of the novel, the Master was a certain Fesija, a savant who was concerned with medieval satanic arts, and standing much closer to the Goethean Faust. This figure of Fesija is supposed to have been inspired by the religious philosopher Pavel Florenski (1882-1937), who was arrested in 1928.
Later on the Master became in the first place Boelgakov himself (or maybe Gorki).
Do you know something about these things?
No, I knew nothing about those things. Thank you! I'll look into this.I did as I said I would and looked into this, finding:
In Bulgakov's early versions of the novel the part of the Master was played by Fesiya, a wise man who was interested in the devilry from the Middle Ages and the Italian Renaissance. Fesiya was occupied with demonic powers much more than later the Master, he was much closer to Goethe's Faust. Fesiya was probably inspired by the philosopher Pavel Alexan-drovich Florensky (1882-1937), who was arrested in 1928.I found that information on the website Master and Margarita, a site I'm familiar with, though I wasn't familiar with this particular page.
See? One really can learn something new each day . . .