This course takes a slow journey through one famous Russian novel. It guides students in the basics of reading a literary text from a culture different than our own, providing the rudimentary cultural and historical context. Some of the questions we will tackle are: how to keep track of many characters whose names have multiple versions? What exactly is a religious “icon,” and why do people carry them around? What was unique about daily life in the Soviet Union? How do Russian attitudes towards money, family, faith, and art differ from our own? Our novel this semester will be Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita (1940) – a fantastic account of 1930s Russia under Stalin. Its primary characters include an imprisoned novelist, his witch-like lover, a talking cat who wields a gun, and Satan himself. The novel blends magical elements with Soviet history, philosophy, and slapstick comedy, making it an enjoyable and accessible entry point into Russian culture.  This course is taught in English and has no prerequisites. No knowledge of Russian is required.