Cover to My New English Translation of ‘The Master and Margarita’

This is the cover I made for my translation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, which will be published before the end of summer:

The Master and Margarita

Cover of New English Translation of the Master and Margarita by John Dougherty ©2017

As I was in the final stages of editing, proof-reading and formatting this translation of ‘The Master and Margarita, I agonized over how to get a good but inexpensive cover to put on it. I initially considered using the graphics services provided through the website fiverr. In the process of coming up with a proposal to a graphic designer for the creation of this cover, I considered a sort of collage that would include some of the themes and iconic images that are presented in the novel again and again. After putting a list together of these things, I thought “hey, I can do this.” Not having any experience with this sort of design, other than a brief flirtation with the free image manipulation program Gimp, I decided it was time to purchase and learn to use Adobe Photoshop. I asked my brilliant and artistic photographer friend Jen if she had any tips, and she pointed me to Adobe Creative Cloud. This was appealing to me for its option to do a trial use, and not have to buy a software package up front.

So now I can photoshop! This translation project started out as an occasional exercise to keep up my Russian language skills, but has turned into a project that has unexpectedly led me to learn a whole host of new skills and software applications: use of Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, Calibre and Sigil; how to get an ISBN and register a book with Bowker. Fun stuff.

More Sympathy for the Devil in Russian Literature


Homeless Devil Berlioz

In an earlier post—Sympathy for the Devil in Russian Literature—I compared Bulgakov’s Satan with the Devil that appears to Dostoevsky’s character Ivan, one of the Brothers Karamazov. There are many similarities. Both seem to be gentlemanly, and in Dostoevsky, Ivan is sure that this character is the product of the delirium from his own “brain fever”, in Bulgakov, when the Master first encounters the Satan character, he says, “it would, of course, be much easier to consider you the product of a hallucination.” (These are reminiscent, too, of Scrooge’s argument that the ghost of Jacob Marley may be the result of a “slight disorder of the stomach,” in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”).

In that earlier post, I was concerned mainly with the outward appearance of the Devil, as described by both authors, and his manner. But I also included some discussion of how Dostoevsky’s Devil muses on the nature of good and evil, and his place in the conflict between them. He argues to Ivan that he is not inherently evil, or even bad, but that fate had chosen him to be the representative of these things, as a counterpoint to good: Continue reading