(I'm a little uncertain as to what book to write about, as I see nothing much about Envy here, but I'll just touch on The Master and Margarita that we started with today, as I'm enjoying that so far.)
Throughout this course, we've covered a variety of different novels that have touched on various different subjects. However, we have not really seen much in terms of religious writing (in either direction, for or against it), with the exception of in We with the One State religion concept. With The Master and Margarita, we now get that in a very unique and borderline whimsical manner. Instead of using societal religious figures, such as priests or clergy members, as plot devices, Bulgakov opts for the more absurdist, fantasy-oriented, fictional method of literally bringing Satan to life in the guise of Woland, while also focusing on The Master's manuscript, which is a revised version of Jesus' trial. With that in mind, so far, this feels very little like religious criticism. Instead, it feels like the religious imagery is only conjured merely because Bulgakov was feeling like being creative in a manner that would be objectionable to the orthodox church at the time.
In previous literature courses, the most I've ever seen of religion being involved in a novel is that it has either served the role of oppressor, or a main character has been a sort of Christ-like figure (both sides of the same coin, I guess...). Thus, I find this new twist on the religious theme to be quite fascinating. The way it is integrated so far makes me feel like this is more about a "good and evil" kind of theme that will be revealed in some manner.
The 20th century literature we've read so far has been a far cry from the 19th century material. We've now covered dystopian societies, extreme satire, the presence of a "big brother" styled state, and now this unusual religious imagery. What does this say about the state of Russian literature in the 20th century? Despite the fact that this novel was withheld/restricted/censored/delayed/whatever, is it a sign of social or literary progress to see how writers seemed to really push boundaries more now than ever before, especially in terms of bringing in radically fictional elements into their works? How did 19th century works lead to the incredibly different novels we're reading now?