MIKHAIL AND MARGARITA, p. 213 (Spoiler)

Because of the title, maybe you were expecting something written in the same antic spirit with which Mikhail Bulgakov wrote The Master and Margarita. Julie Lekstrom Himes’s novel, however, is a completely different animal. It’s straightforward realism: a searing look at how cruelly the Stalinist state treated its artists and writers (and gets really painful to read around p. 216)

Bulgakov is not the only victim of the state. No writer, it seems, escaped. The cruelest fates are reserved for Mayakovsky and Mandelstam. But there were many others.

p. 213, Margarita has disappeared, and Bulgakov goes to Lubyanka on a futile search for information.

Guard: I have no information available.

Bulgakov: Every week I hear the same thing — do you know if she is even in there?

Guard: Is she out there with you?

Bulgakov: Of course not.

Guard: Then she is here.

Meanwhile, inside Lubyanka, Margarita “was told her attitude did not help her. When she returned to her cell, a metal shutter had been screwed over the window. Where the clock had hung there were only wires.”

Since we know precisely how much sun passes through this window every day (16 minutes, Margarita could tell by the clock), the sudden withdrawal of this small comfort (the guards knew!) is particularly awful.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading about 16 March 1521: Magellan in the Visayan Sea

On the Feast of St. Lazarus, Ferdinand Magellan spotted the coast of Samar in an archipelago which had not been named by Europeans.

Because it was the feast of the saint who Jesus brought back to life, Lazarus the brother of Martha and Mary, Magellan named the island in honor of the saint. He had “discovered” the Philippines (The name was given to the archipelago 50 years later, during the reign of Philip II, Hapsburg monarch of Spain)

When Magellan made landfall, it was barely 30 years after the fall of Granada, the last outpost of the Nasrid Empire. In 1492, Boabdil, last Muslim King of Granada, surrendered to the Catholic forces of Ferdinand and Isabella. When Granada capitulated, it had become a swollen knot of refugees from all over the Iberian peninsula.

The island in the Visayan Sea where self’s father was born is called Negros (That name was given to the island by the Spanish because islanders were dark-skinned). She doesn’t think Magellan or any of the explorers who followed actually set foot on the island. But there is a Barangay Granada, which is part of a cluster of land self inherited from her Dear Departed Dad.

DSCN0076

She gleans all this fascinating information from a book which Dearest Mum gave to her a few years ago: La Casa de Dios (The House of God) by Father René B. Javellana, SJ.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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