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Woland (Russian: Воланд) is a fictional character in the 1937 novel The Master and Margarita by the Russian (Soviet) author Mikhail Bulgakov. Woland is the mysterious foreigner and professor whose visit to Moscow sets the plot rolling and turns the world upside-down. Different people see him in different ways: "[t]he first says that the [he] was short, had gold teeth, and limped on the right foot. The second, that the man was of enormous height, had platinum crowns, and limped on the left foot. The third states laconically that the man had no special distinguishing characteristics."

Woland's name itself is a variant of the name of a demon who appears in Goethe's Faust: the knight Voland or Faland. This link is made tighter by the quotation from Faust at the beginning of the novel. However, Woland is seldom called by his name. His band refer to him as "messire", a French honorific title meaning "sire" or "master" and given to priests, advocates, etc.

His demonic retinue, which includes witches, vampires, and a gigantic talking cat, his role in the plot, and the fact that Voland is a (now outdated) German word for a devil or evil spirit, all imply that he is, in fact, the Devil. More controversial interpretations see him as the Apostle Peter (based on Jesus's remark to Peter "Get thee behind me, Satan") or even the Second Coming of Christ.[1]

In adaptations[edit]

  • Veniamin Smekhov played him in a Moscow stage adaptation.
  • In the 1972 Italian-Yugoslavian adaptation, Il maestro e Margherita, Woland was played by French actor Alain Cuny.
  • In the 1990 Polish TV series, Mistrz i Malgorzata, Woland was played by Gustaw Holoubek.
  • In the 1994 Russian adaptation, Master i Margarita, Woland was played by Valentin Gaft.
  • In the 2005 Hungarian TV movie, A mester és Margarita, Woland was played by Sergei Grekov.
  • In the 2005 miniseries adaptation, Woland was played by Oleg Basilashvili.


"Forgive me, but I don't believe you. That cannot be: manuscripts don't burn." -To the Master[2]
"Yes, man is mortal, but that would be only half the trouble. The worst of it is that he's sometimes unexpectedly mortal—there's the trick!" -To Berlioz[3]



  1. ^ Бузиновский С., Бузиновская О. Тайна Воланда: опыт дешифровки. — СПб.: Лев и Сова, 2007. — С. 6-11.
  2. ^ Bulgakov, Mikhail (2016). The Master and Margarita. Penguin. p. 287. ISBN 978-0143108276.
  3. ^ Bulgakov, Mikhail (2016). The Master and Margarita. Penguin. p. 11. ISBN 978-0143108276.