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** Für kurze Zeit zum Einführungspreis ** Zwölf Stühle – Der vielfach verfilmte Bestseller erstmals als eBook • Für die eBook-Ausgabe neu editiert, voll verlinkt, und mit Kindle-Inhaltsverzeichnis • Mit einem aktuellen Vorwort des Herausgebers (2015) Eine rasante und fieberhafte Suche nach den Sitzmöbeln beginnt ... Ein Schatz, der im eigenen Wohnzimmer steht, ohne dass j ** Für kurze Zeit zum Einführungspreis ** Zwölf Stühle – Der vielfach verfilmte Bestseller erstmals als eBook • Für die eBook-Ausgabe neu editiert, voll verlinkt, und mit Kindle-Inhaltsverzeichnis • Mit einem aktuellen Vorwort des Herausgebers (2015) Eine rasante und fieberhafte Suche nach den Sitzmöbeln beginnt ... Ein Schatz, der im eigenen Wohnzimmer steht, ohne dass jemand etwas davon ahnt – auf dieser einfachen, aber höchst originellen Idee basiert der Roman ›Zwölf Stühle‹ von Ilja Ilf und Jewgeni Petrow, der zum Bestseller wurde. Am Sterbebett seiner Schwiegermutter erfährt Ippolit Worobjaninow, dass die adlige Dame vor Jahren, als sie von den Bolschewisten enteignet werden sollte, die wertvollen Familienjuwelen in einem von zwölf gleichen Stühlen, die zu einer Sitzgarnitur gehörten, versteckte. Später waren die Stühle dann beschlagnahmt und in alle Winde verstreut worden. Worobjaninow tut sich mit dem trickreichen und smarten Ganoven Ostap Bender zusammen, und eine gierige und fieberhafte Suche nach den Sitzmöbeln beginnt ... Der Roman, von überwältigender Komik, wurde in fast alle Kultursprachen übersetzt und es gibt zahllose Verfilmungen, die aus den unterschiedlichsten Ländern stammen, etwa USA, UdSSR/Russland, Italien und Kuba. In Deutschland wurde das Buch mindestens fünfmal verfilmt. Ilja Arnoldowitsch Ilf (1897–1937) und Jewgeni Petrowitsch Katajew (1903–1942) waren ein russisch-sowjetisches Schriftsteller-Duo. Die beiden produzierten als Co-Autoren zahlreiche erfolgreiche Bücher und Beiträge für Zeitschriften. Wegen ihres brillanten humoristischen Talents nannte man sie bald die ›Sowjet-Mark-Twains‹. Das berühmtestes Buch des Duos ist ›Zwölf Stühle‹ (1930) ---- <>eClassica – Die Buchreihe, die Klassiker neu belebt.<>


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** Für kurze Zeit zum Einführungspreis ** Zwölf Stühle – Der vielfach verfilmte Bestseller erstmals als eBook • Für die eBook-Ausgabe neu editiert, voll verlinkt, und mit Kindle-Inhaltsverzeichnis • Mit einem aktuellen Vorwort des Herausgebers (2015) Eine rasante und fieberhafte Suche nach den Sitzmöbeln beginnt ... Ein Schatz, der im eigenen Wohnzimmer steht, ohne dass j ** Für kurze Zeit zum Einführungspreis ** Zwölf Stühle – Der vielfach verfilmte Bestseller erstmals als eBook • Für die eBook-Ausgabe neu editiert, voll verlinkt, und mit Kindle-Inhaltsverzeichnis • Mit einem aktuellen Vorwort des Herausgebers (2015) Eine rasante und fieberhafte Suche nach den Sitzmöbeln beginnt ... Ein Schatz, der im eigenen Wohnzimmer steht, ohne dass jemand etwas davon ahnt – auf dieser einfachen, aber höchst originellen Idee basiert der Roman ›Zwölf Stühle‹ von Ilja Ilf und Jewgeni Petrow, der zum Bestseller wurde. Am Sterbebett seiner Schwiegermutter erfährt Ippolit Worobjaninow, dass die adlige Dame vor Jahren, als sie von den Bolschewisten enteignet werden sollte, die wertvollen Familienjuwelen in einem von zwölf gleichen Stühlen, die zu einer Sitzgarnitur gehörten, versteckte. Später waren die Stühle dann beschlagnahmt und in alle Winde verstreut worden. Worobjaninow tut sich mit dem trickreichen und smarten Ganoven Ostap Bender zusammen, und eine gierige und fieberhafte Suche nach den Sitzmöbeln beginnt ... Der Roman, von überwältigender Komik, wurde in fast alle Kultursprachen übersetzt und es gibt zahllose Verfilmungen, die aus den unterschiedlichsten Ländern stammen, etwa USA, UdSSR/Russland, Italien und Kuba. In Deutschland wurde das Buch mindestens fünfmal verfilmt. Ilja Arnoldowitsch Ilf (1897–1937) und Jewgeni Petrowitsch Katajew (1903–1942) waren ein russisch-sowjetisches Schriftsteller-Duo. Die beiden produzierten als Co-Autoren zahlreiche erfolgreiche Bücher und Beiträge für Zeitschriften. Wegen ihres brillanten humoristischen Talents nannte man sie bald die ›Sowjet-Mark-Twains‹. Das berühmtestes Buch des Duos ist ›Zwölf Stühle‹ (1930) ---- <>eClassica – Die Buchreihe, die Klassiker neu belebt.<>

30 review for Zwölf Stühle: Der vielfach verfilmte Bestseller erstmals als eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    Foreword and Notes Translator's Introduction --The Twelve Chairs Translator's Notes

  2. 5 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    Good fun. It feels a bit dated, but that may be due to me being a Romanian and reading a 1960 English translation of a 1927 Russian text, and losing some of the original flavor along the way. Still, it is easy to see why Twelve Chairs is considered a classic, both inside and outside the Soviet space. At the first glance, it is an extremely sharp satire of the times in which the talented duo from Odessa were both witnesses and actors, as seen in the chapters about the editor of a Moscow newspap Good fun. It feels a bit dated, but that may be due to me being a Romanian and reading a 1960 English translation of a 1927 Russian text, and losing some of the original flavor along the way. Still, it is easy to see why Twelve Chairs is considered a classic, both inside and outside the Soviet space. At the first glance, it is an extremely sharp satire of the times in which the talented duo from Odessa were both witnesses and actors, as seen in the chapters about the editor of a Moscow newspaper and about writing the epic poem The Gavriliad ) about a stalwart Russian [insert occupation here]. At the second glance, the plot and the characters gain a timeless quality that transcends cultural borders to speak about greed, corruption, selfishness, vanity, envy, fear ... Proof of this universal appeal can be glimpsed in the many adaptations of the story - from Cehia or Cuba, to England and the United States. Some particular scenes (the 1st of May launching of a new tram line in Stargorod, the meetings of the secret Alliance of The Sword and Ploughshare) have a strong resemblance to more recent cinema works by Milos Forman ( The Firemen's Ball ) or Emir Kusturica ( Underground ; Black Cat, White Cat ) . The analogy is not only in the keen eye for the comical situation and the slightly grotesque cast, but also in the more tender touch, as of a stern parent who might criticize his child, but keeps loving him deeply despite his many shortcomings. The satire of Ilf and Petrov is often harsh, but never mean spirited or ugly. A particular scene from the book comes to mind - of Ilf and Petrov getting lyrical about a spring Sunday in Moscow and young people going to the flea market to purchase a mattress - a symbol of status in an impoverished neighborhood, but also of love and hope for the future. The plot i think it is known : the ailing mother-in-law of the main actor (Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, a.k.a. Pussy) confesses on her death bed that she has hidden a treasure in jewelry inside one walnut chair - one of twelve that were later appropriated by the communist authorities. This McGuffin sets up a wild treasure hunt across the Soviet Union, from Stargorod to Moscow, from Georgia to Crimeea. Vorobyaninov is ill equipped to deal with the hardships of the quest, and soon falls under the influence of a "smooth operator" - Ostap Bender - a young rake familiar with all the tricks and lies of a life of crime. Soon, Bender will steal all the best scenes in the book, setting up one shady deal after another, lying his way into marriage only to elope the next day, claiming to be a chess Grandmeister, a painter, a fire inspector, a white revolutionary, a tourist guide, and on and on - one impersonation after another. A more crooked alter-ego to the typical Communist hero promoted by the party propaganda machine is hard to imagine, yet he is surprisingly credible in the context of the period (a more liberal pre-Stalinist society, with encouragement of free enterprise and private initiative) . It is hard not to cheer for Ostap, when he is gaming the system, always betting on the stupidity and self-interest of his victims. The supporting cast is as memorable as Ostap or Vorobyaninov, even if they have a lesser role to play. I recognize in them archetypes of people I'm still meeting today: - Father Fyodor: the renegade priest who sells his soul for a piece of the treasure - Victor Polesov, the mechanic intellectual : the know-it-all busybody, with a firm opinion about everything under the sun, morbidly curious about everybody elses business and slovenly about his own work. - Ellochka Shukin (The Canibal) : the perky man-teaser with high society airs, copying the fashions from foreign magazines and driving her husband crazy with her social climber ambitions. - Elena Stanislavovna - former call girl / mistress and now neighbourhood psychic seeing the future in cards or coffee cups. - the Widow Gritsatsuyev - the gullible middle aged lady chasing after the treacherous Ostap - Absalom Vladimirovich Iznurenkov - the scatterbrained writer of jokes and heroic poetry - Liza Kalachov - the pretty student who craves a bit of salami while her boyfriend sings praises to the healthier (and cheaper) vegetarian lifestyle - assorted undertakers, engineers, accountants, building administrators, government functionaries, actors, students, reporters - each with his or her moment in the limelight. While there are some slapstick moments in the book, most of the humor is situational or in conversations. My favorite parts are the authors riffs on general subjects, when they really let loose with their wit. Here's a short teaser to end my review: Statistics know everything. It has been calculated with precision how much ploughland there is in the USSR, with subdivision into black earth, loam and loess. All citizens of both sexes have been recorded in those neat, thick registers – so familiar to Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov – the registry office ledgers. It is known how much of a certain food is consumed yearly by the average citizen in the Republic. It is known how much vodka is imbibed as an average by this average citizen, with a rough indication of the titbits consumed with it. It is known how many hunters, ballerinas, revolving lathes, dogs of all breeds, bicycles, monuments, girls, lighthouses and sewing machines there are in the country. How much life, full of fervour, emotion and thought, there is in those statistical tables!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    “Tell me, dad,” said the young man, taking a puff, “are there any marriageable young girls in this town?” The old caretaker did not show the least surprise. “For some a mare'd be a bride,” he answered, readily striking up a conversation. “I have no more questions,” said the young man quickly. And he immediately asked one more: “A house like this and no girls in it?” “It's a long while since there've been any young girls here,” replied the old man. “This is a state institution – a home for old-age wo “Tell me, dad,” said the young man, taking a puff, “are there any marriageable young girls in this town?” The old caretaker did not show the least surprise. “For some a mare'd be a bride,” he answered, readily striking up a conversation. “I have no more questions,” said the young man quickly. And he immediately asked one more: “A house like this and no girls in it?” “It's a long while since there've been any young girls here,” replied the old man. “This is a state institution – a home for old-age women pensioners.” “I see. For ones born before historical materialism?” “That's it. They were born when they were born.” The marvellous events of The Twelve Chairs are taking place after the final victory of historical materialism in one, separately taken country. Our heroes, who classically may be called picaros – like those of classical picaresque novels – are treasure hunters, the unbelievable tandem of a wedding swindler Ostap Bender and a former nobleman Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov. In the first side street Ippolit Matveyevich leaned against Liza and began to paw her. Liza fought him off. “Stop it!” she cried. “Stop it! Stop it!” “Let's go to a hotel,” Vorobyaninov urged. Liza freed herself with difficulty and, without taking aim, punched the lady-killer on the nose. The pince-nez with the gold nose-piece fell to the ground and, getting in the way of one of the square-toed baronial boots broke with a crunch. The evening breeze Sighs through the trees Choking back her tears, Liza ran home down Silver Lane. Loud and fast Flows the Gualdalquivir. The vicissitudes of their treasure hunting are fabulous, grotesque and fantastically uproarious. But somehow a reader’s sympathy always remains on the side of the confidence trickster. Sometimes all the pleasures of treasure hunting are in the process and not in the result…

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Ilf and Petrov started off writing short humorous pieces for Soviet newspapers. The quest plot of The Twelve Chairs gave them a loose format that allowed them to write it as a series of fairly short comic incidents. (My favourite of these has the lead character posing as Chess Grand Master and challenging an entire chess club to simultaneous matches - an effort which gets off to a good start). This isn't unique, Three Men in a Boat, Diary of a Nobody and The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes i Ilf and Petrov started off writing short humorous pieces for Soviet newspapers. The quest plot of The Twelve Chairs gave them a loose format that allowed them to write it as a series of fairly short comic incidents. (My favourite of these has the lead character posing as Chess Grand Master and challenging an entire chess club to simultaneous matches - an effort which gets off to a good start). This isn't unique, Three Men in a Boat, Diary of a Nobody and The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War all take much the same approach. Set during the relatively prosperous and free wheeling years of the New Economic Policy in the Soviet Union of the 1920s, the quest is to recover a fortune hidden inside one of a set of twelve chairs. High jinks ensue. Despite the ending, Ilf and Petrov did go on to write a sequel The Golden Calf. My copy of this is shabby down at heel 1993 edition, paper discoloured, hardcover coming away. It looks a bit comical itself if truth be told.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ema

    I'm almost ashamed for not enjoying this book a lot more, but I suppose I've read it too late. The beginning was one of the funniest I've come across in a long time, there were hilarious moments when I laughed out loud, the plot was really well crafted at times and it had some interesting insights into Russian social and political climate around 1920's. I was amazed to discover that some of the observations are valid even today - some things never change, it seems. Yet, the language was a little I'm almost ashamed for not enjoying this book a lot more, but I suppose I've read it too late. The beginning was one of the funniest I've come across in a long time, there were hilarious moments when I laughed out loud, the plot was really well crafted at times and it had some interesting insights into Russian social and political climate around 1920's. I was amazed to discover that some of the observations are valid even today - some things never change, it seems. Yet, the language was a little bit outdated and there were so many digressions from the main subject that I started to lose interest. It felt like Ilf and Petrov wanted to cover all the flaws of Russian society in a single book - an honorable feat nonetheless. I am the guilty party here, as it seems I am out of patience for this kind of writing. You should read this book, don't mind my rating. It really has some solid things to say.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Harry Kane

    All my life this was the funniest book I have ever read. Once a year or two I would revisit it and double up instantly in helpless mirth. Because of this book I can pinpoint with accuracy the year I matured - it was the year I reread the book and realized that in spite of it playfull wittiness, it described a crushingly depressive vision of humanity. The last time I reread this book I didn't laugh once. I only cringed and groaned. Still brilliant, but suddenly not so lighthearted at all. Good thi All my life this was the funniest book I have ever read. Once a year or two I would revisit it and double up instantly in helpless mirth. Because of this book I can pinpoint with accuracy the year I matured - it was the year I reread the book and realized that in spite of it playfull wittiness, it described a crushingly depressive vision of humanity. The last time I reread this book I didn't laugh once. I only cringed and groaned. Still brilliant, but suddenly not so lighthearted at all. Good thing there's Tom Sharpe left.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caterina

    According to a twenty-something friend who recently immigrated to the U.S. from Russia, this 1927 satirical-comic novel is still so popular in Russia that not only has everyone read it (on their own—not in school!) but everyone quotes from it in their everyday speech. The only thing remotely comparable I can think of in America is cult classic movie quotes. Life is quite absurd, and that’s the final word* Or at least that’s the view from the cheap seats in early Soviet Russia. Yet somehow this c According to a twenty-something friend who recently immigrated to the U.S. from Russia, this 1927 satirical-comic novel is still so popular in Russia that not only has everyone read it (on their own—not in school!) but everyone quotes from it in their everyday speech. The only thing remotely comparable I can think of in America is cult classic movie quotes. Life is quite absurd, and that’s the final word* Or at least that’s the view from the cheap seats in early Soviet Russia. Yet somehow this cynical send-up of the wild goose chase we call life manages to be almost as light on its feet as Ostap Bender, the clever trickster of a protagonist—whom I hated, but couldn’t help hating less than all the other even more contemptible greed-and-vanity-driven characters. Everything, including literature itself, is duly skewered--not to mention hallowed Russian novelists. Yet maybe, just maybe, a tiny glimmer of the light of hope could be shining at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The novel’s blend of witty language and slapstick physical comedy had me thinking “this would make a great movie”— and in fact there have been at least two Russian comic films and a goofy 1970 Mel Brooks interpretation. Though a little slow to start, once it got rolling the novel was a pretty fast 500+ pages. *Monty Python movie quotation

  8. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    Written in the 1920s, this is not your typical Russian fare. Filled with humor, this book examines Russian society in the aftermath of the Russian revolution. Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov was a nobleman and, on her deathbed, his mother-in-law reveals she hid all of her jewels in one of the twelve dining room chairs. Off he goes to find out what happened to his property, but quickly discovers that she also told her priest, who secretly longs to be a factory owner. Having no idea how to locate Written in the 1920s, this is not your typical Russian fare. Filled with humor, this book examines Russian society in the aftermath of the Russian revolution. Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov was a nobleman and, on her deathbed, his mother-in-law reveals she hid all of her jewels in one of the twelve dining room chairs. Off he goes to find out what happened to his property, but quickly discovers that she also told her priest, who secretly longs to be a factory owner. Having no idea how to locate the chairs nor gain access to them, the nobleman partners with Ostap Bender, a con artist, referred to as the "smooth operator." Their adventures are quite comical, as is the ending. Enjoyed this one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Borys

    Well, I've read this book for about 3 or 4 times so far and listened once to a radio dramatisation. All in Russian, of course. The first acquaintance with the book occurred when I was just a little boy, of about 10. Knowing very little about USSR's grievous past, about uneasy 20s or new economical policy (NEP) introduced by Lenin, about hardships of a newly born communist empire and so forth, all these being a setting for the novel in question, I enjoyed it much nonetheless. Then I read this boo Well, I've read this book for about 3 or 4 times so far and listened once to a radio dramatisation. All in Russian, of course. The first acquaintance with the book occurred when I was just a little boy, of about 10. Knowing very little about USSR's grievous past, about uneasy 20s or new economical policy (NEP) introduced by Lenin, about hardships of a newly born communist empire and so forth, all these being a setting for the novel in question, I enjoyed it much nonetheless. Then I read this book as a part of a high school program, paying then more attention to details. I learned for example that the authors saw the protagonist not as a hero or positive character but rather as a way to joke about old regime and kulachestvo (a term for merchants and those who had some land and didn't want to "share" it with others in kolchoses (collective household)) and other such things. This idea is more developed in the 'Golden Lamb' (you should read that one if you've enjoyed the '12 chairs') where Ostap gains a million roubles and knows not what to do with them in an ideal state of honest workers. And that's why *spoiler* Ostap and Kisa fail in the end of this novel *spoiler*. I enjoyed it even more then being more mature and paying more attention to details and very beautiful language constructions. Unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about the translation. The original uses a pretty complex language constructions but the humour should be understandable perfectly well in a translation I think, of course you are probably going to miss some rather subtle details, but the main human sins of every man in every state are portrayed rather well (a greedy priest and Kisa, cowardly 'fighters for the revolution', large numbers of not very honest men who are conned by Ostap who plays on their dishonesty, some 'bright fashionable things' like Ellochka and other bright images). And yes, this book is a satire, and so it laughs at some not very pleasant things in our lives. Because of this one can view it as a rather sad but, well, that's what satire out there is for: to laugh through tears at our own selves (or in this case, at our socialist predecessors') And in the end I'd like to say that expressing ideas in a foreign language may be a difficult task to undertake for me as a Ukrainian. So I feel very very cumbersome about my language and style and expressions, so please do forgive me those grammar & spelling errors and vague semantic constructions.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Betül

    A thousand kind of people are living in this book. Rich, poor, old, young, crafty, deceived, brave, coward, intellectual, ignorant... But the thing that brings them together is the same: pursuit of money. Ilf and Petrov succesfully and colorfully portrays one of the most important passions of mankind, "getting rich". Their depiction of "a thousand kind of" people with humorous language (this kind of humour created laughter storms in my home every night!) makes you wanna go to U.S.S.R of 1920's a A thousand kind of people are living in this book. Rich, poor, old, young, crafty, deceived, brave, coward, intellectual, ignorant... But the thing that brings them together is the same: pursuit of money. Ilf and Petrov succesfully and colorfully portrays one of the most important passions of mankind, "getting rich". Their depiction of "a thousand kind of" people with humorous language (this kind of humour created laughter storms in my home every night!) makes you wanna go to U.S.S.R of 1920's and see what's happening around there to impress authors about writing this book. A must read, especially for who finds pleasure in humorous works and needs fun time by reading.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Agnese

    All the time it was going so nice, so funny, but then the ending...!!! OMG! First I thought I've misunderstood something, after third time rereading all I can say: F you Ilya Ilf, F you! I still cant believe it! Not Bender! Please! But I can't give it less than 5 (though i have to try to forget 'THE ENDING'), pure humour, loved it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    david

    I tried. I really tried. But after reading half of this, I must concede defeat. I cannot endure it. Perhaps if I was north of sixty and born and raised in an unknown town in the Soviet Union it would be different. Perhaps if the translation was better. Perhaps if the sun was vermillion and the sky brown. Perhaps if we drank meat and sliced wine. Perhaps if we walked on our hands and picked fruit with our toes. Alas...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    When you hear me say: "Don't tell me how to live," you hear me quotethis book. You might need to know a little about Russian history to enjoy this, or not. Times were tough, money was scarce, and Moscow was having a housing crisis. You're prepared. Go read it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bjorn

    OK, now that was just plain old... fun. A bit dated, sure. But it's very easy to see why it's become a classic; not only is it laugh-out-loud-in-public funny, but with some brilliant settings and character work too, all circling around a huckster character who'll sell people any get-rich-quick scheme or political/philosophical utopia with the same bravado. Almost as if there wasn't really a huge difference between appealing to Mammon or Lenin when it comes to getting people to think they're doing OK, now that was just plain old... fun. A bit dated, sure. But it's very easy to see why it's become a classic; not only is it laugh-out-loud-in-public funny, but with some brilliant settings and character work too, all circling around a huckster character who'll sell people any get-rich-quick scheme or political/philosophical utopia with the same bravado. Almost as if there wasn't really a huge difference between appealing to Mammon or Lenin when it comes to getting people to think they're doing something for themselves while someone else profits. Huh.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I love Russian satire from the late imperial and early Soviet period. It's basically a picaresque - Ostap Bender is a rogue who knows Soviet society so deeply and truly that he can exploit it for his own gain. Voryobaninov is dragged along (well, mostly :-) and everyone else is basically a caricature - but what brilliant caricatures! I&P do for the Soviet period what Gogol did for the Imperial - basically, show that nothing's changed.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katinki

    I read this in Russian years ago. While it's absolutely hilarious in its native language, the translation works just fine, too. To really appreciate, however, you'll need to have a decent grasp of Russian culture and humor, specifically during the Soviet era. I loved this enough that let's put it this way... I have a cat named Ostap. :D

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    A sure sign of a great novel is its ability to enthrall and entertain the reader over and over again, withstanding multiple rereads over the years. Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov is such a novel for me. I can probably turn the last page and immediately crack the book open again at the beginning, perpetually submerged in the adventures of former bourgeois Kisa Vorobyaninov and the legendary conman Ostap Bender as they throw themselves into a breakneck hunt for the coveted chair with heirloom dia A sure sign of a great novel is its ability to enthrall and entertain the reader over and over again, withstanding multiple rereads over the years. Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov is such a novel for me. I can probably turn the last page and immediately crack the book open again at the beginning, perpetually submerged in the adventures of former bourgeois Kisa Vorobyaninov and the legendary conman Ostap Bender as they throw themselves into a breakneck hunt for the coveted chair with heirloom diamonds sewn into its seat. I've read it so many times, I'm pretty sure I can recite particular passages from memory. This is a tragicomedic gem from the literary giants of post-revolutionary Soviet Russia that reflects cultural and economic atmosphere of the time with wit and ease of a true virtuoso. Bravo!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anna Kļaviņa

    Is this one of the works that are untranslatable like Eugene Onegin, I'm not sure. Could be. Ostap Bender is now one of my favourite characters. I've suspicion he might be a sociopath, someone you would wish to avoid in real life but as fictional character it's hard not to like him. He is very charming. Osip Shor (Осип Шор) - the prototype of Ostap Bender. Interesting personality. Free audiobook available here. Password: Bibe.ru.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ksenia Chernyshova

    So funny I was laughing out loud in public places, not giving a damn, but also that fucking ending... I don't know if I should laugh or cry now.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bbrown

    Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, formerly a wealthy noble before the Russian Revolution and now a midlevel government bureaucrat, learns from his mother-in-law on her deathbed that she hid a fortune in jewels in one of a set of twelve chairs that were confiscated and redistributed following the Revolution. Vorobyaninov goes out in search of these twelve chairs, quickly teaming up with a conman named Ostap Bender, and together they go after the hidden jewels. That is a heck of an intriguing plot, Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, formerly a wealthy noble before the Russian Revolution and now a midlevel government bureaucrat, learns from his mother-in-law on her deathbed that she hid a fortune in jewels in one of a set of twelve chairs that were confiscated and redistributed following the Revolution. Vorobyaninov goes out in search of these twelve chairs, quickly teaming up with a conman named Ostap Bender, and together they go after the hidden jewels. That is a heck of an intriguing plot, and authors Ilya Ilf & Evgeny Petrov know it. In one scene that flirts with breaking the fourth wall, characters speak of how strong a premise this is, capable of making a work interesting regardless of the quality of the other pieces. Ilf & Petrov aren't wrong, but luckily the plot of this adventure isn't the only thing this book has going for it. Most importantly, the book is almost always a lot of fun. The characters are entertaining, and as they search for the twelve chairs their wake creates ripples that lead to side stories that are entertaining in their own right, whether it's the story of a group of delusional conspirators, epistolary asides about a priest traveling to the edges of Russia, or the story of a man driven to play out the actions of his fictional counterpart. Even the asides unrelated to a story or short story, where Ilf & Petrov give a tangent on things like variations of "do not enter" signs, are entertaining, and usually tie in with the subject or theme being explored in the main story. Beyond entertainment, this book paints a picture of life in the Soviet Union during 1920s, and you'll probably find a hundred or more references to Russian items, people, and historical events that you've never heard of before, even if you're a fan of Russian literature. One flaw, however, is that at times the characters do not act consistently, making it feel as though the story is being pushed forward inorganically. The clearest example of this is the introduction of Ostap Bender, who Vorobyaninov tells about the hidden jewels despite having only met him minutes before. Prior to this Vorobyaninov had been careful, even adopting a (terrible) disguise. Nevertheless, without justification for it Vorobyaninov decides that Bender might be useful to team up with and spills his guts. This felt like Ilf & Petrov knowing that Bender would be part of the story and shoehorning in his introduction with as little effort as possible. This is made frustrating by the fact that other parts of the book show that Ilf & Petrov are definitely capable of crafting plot developments in a way that feels true to the characters. Mild spoiler for something that happens half way through the book: at one point one of Bender's schemes works out well and Vorobyaninov is left with more cash than he's had since he was a noble. Vorobyaninov wasted money like no tomorrow when he was a noble, so now that he's flush (and with a pretty girl) he reverts to his old ways, getting drunk and waking up having spent all his money without even remembering how. This is completely believable and consistent with the character. It also leads to Vorobyaninov and Bender losing an auction for ten of the twelve chairs because they were short of cash, a development that wasn't a surprise but that might have been even more enjoyable to read because I could see it coming. If, in a few places, the authors had built up some developments so that they felt more consistent and believable (perhaps giving Vorobyaninov and Bender some prior relationship from when Vorobyaninov was a noble, to explain why Vorobyaninov decides to trust Bender and why Bender keeps Vorobyaninov around even after he's proven to be more of a liability than a help) I think this book would have only had one serious flaw (that I will discuss below). As I mentioned, this book is as much a portrait of the early Soviet Union as it is an adventure story. In depicting the Soviet Union, Ilf & Petrov skewer both it and communism. In the Soviet Union as depicted by Ilf & Petrov there is still corruption and people are more money obsessed than ever. The person in charge of taking care of the old folks home steals and sells anything that isn't nailed down. The best records are kept by a man motivated by an eventual financial reward, not by any government office. For a time I felt like Ilf & Petrov were criticizing the new Soviet regime even more so than the Tsarist regime that preceded it: sure, the nobles were jerks that wasted money, food, and more, but at least back then there was money and food to waste. Now, the stores are often empty, the paint on the buildings is dull and worn, and things generally don't seem better. The novel seems to end, however, on a note suggesting that ultimately the pursuit of wealth is a dehumanizing, corrupting influence, and that the sharing of wealth under communism is a noble and desirable endeavor, suggesting a superiority of the new system over the old system. But, this ending is the other large flaw I mentioned earlier: (view spoiler)[the final chapter of this book, where this pro-redistribution message is made clear, feels as though it does not fit with the rest of the book. The narrative jumps forward in time and gives us a Bender that is just the same as always but a Vorobyaninov who is completely transformed. Now Vorobyaninov is a cruel and resentful man who proves himself capable of calculated murder. Vorobyaninov was certainly undergoing a character arc in the prior chapters of this book, but not one that pointed to this outcome. Vorobyaninov was slowly being broken down and forced to confront his own lack of skills, becoming more subservient to Bender and less connected with his old position as a noble (when he stoops to begging, for instance). There is no hint of cold-blooded murdered in Vorobyaninov prior to this final chapter. This, along with the pro-Soviet Union/Communism message that the prior chapters seemed critical of, makes this final chapter feel tacked on, perhaps to make the work as a whole more palatable to the new regime? I may have preferred a final chapter where the final chair, indeed filled with diamonds and other jewels, sits in some country cottage with the wealth inside is left undiscovered and unimagined. (hide spoiler)] Overall, this is an adventure that is a lot of fun, with entertaining characters, great side stories and other vignettes, and an interesting view of the early Soviet Union. Its only large flaws are inconsistent characterization at some key points and an ending that does not quite mesh with the rest of the book. The enjoyment I got from the book easily overshadows these flaws, though, so I give The Twelve Chairs 4/5 stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alta

    The Twelve Chairs by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, and its sequel, The Golden Calf, have enjoyed an immense popularity in Russia and Eastern Europe. I had read (and greatly enjoyed) The Golden Calf many years ago in Romanian, and as a consequence, I was very excited by the recent publication of a new English translation of The Twelve Chairs (Northwestern, 2011, translated from the Russian by Anne O. Fisher). I wondered, however, whether a satirical Russian novel set in 1927 and published a year la The Twelve Chairs by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, and its sequel, The Golden Calf, have enjoyed an immense popularity in Russia and Eastern Europe. I had read (and greatly enjoyed) The Golden Calf many years ago in Romanian, and as a consequence, I was very excited by the recent publication of a new English translation of The Twelve Chairs (Northwestern, 2011, translated from the Russian by Anne O. Fisher). I wondered, however, whether a satirical Russian novel set in 1927 and published a year later could be understood by a contemporary American reader. Now that I read all its 500 plus pages, I can say that, surprisingly, the answer is yes. The American reader won’t understand all the references, of course, but most of the humor is fairly universal. The plot is set in motion by the confession of Ippolit Matveevich Vorobyaninov’s mother-in-law on her deathbed: before the Soviet regime forced them out of their home she’d managed to hide her jewels, including her diamonds, in one of the twelve upholstered chairs that were part of a Gambs furniture set. All their possessions, including the chairs, were confiscated by the regime and allocated to various individuals and institutions. The problem is that the woman confessed to both her son-in-law and Father Fyodor, so both of them set out on a journey across the Soviet state, during which their paths sometimes cross, causing hilarious encounters. Vorobyninov is accompanied by Oscar Bender, “the smooth operator,” a self-appointed “technical director” who is one of the greatest crooks in the history of literature (a more vulgar version of Thomas Mann’s Felix Krull). The tragicomic demise of Father Fyodor is paralleled by the absolutely unexpected ending of the novel and of the diamond search. I won’t reveal it here, but suffice it to say that the Communist censors might have had something to do with it. This journey across nations, cities, mountains and sea(s) allows the writers to depict all the social strata of Soviet society, and to give the reader a good understanding of its functioning in the 1920s. This novel proves, once again, that reading literature is the best way to understand history. Thanks should be given to Anne O. Fischer for her (mostly successful) effort to translate this huge and difficult novel, and for the research she’s done in the process. The book has a long, helpful and non-intrusive list of notes at the end.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I read this book many years ago when I was in college—loved it! Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov had been a nobleman in Russia before the revolution. Some of his family’s jewels had been hidden inside the seats of a set of chairs which were confiscated by authorities. With the help of a con artist named Ostap Bender, Ippolit sets out to find them. This satire of the early Soviet system had me, at times, laughing out loud at the escapades of the two men as they travelled the country in search of I read this book many years ago when I was in college—loved it! Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov had been a nobleman in Russia before the revolution. Some of his family’s jewels had been hidden inside the seats of a set of chairs which were confiscated by authorities. With the help of a con artist named Ostap Bender, Ippolit sets out to find them. This satire of the early Soviet system had me, at times, laughing out loud at the escapades of the two men as they travelled the country in search of the lost treasure.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Octavian

    A very good satire that reminds me somehow of Bulgakov. Recommended!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Siyuan

    Russian humor at its best

  25. 4 out of 5

    Realini

    I loved both The Golden Calf and The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf and Petrov. I would say for both books, what Sinclair said about The Golden Calf: "....Upton Sinclair “assured us that he'd never laughed as hard ashe did while reading The Little Golden Calf. ... he announced thathe practically had it memorized.”— Letters of Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov (1935) There is a sadness and regret as I write this, since I had to live through all that: Yes, Ilf and Petrov make it all sound very funny, but the humor is I loved both The Golden Calf and The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf and Petrov. I would say for both books, what Sinclair said about The Golden Calf: "....Upton Sinclair “assured us that he'd never laughed as hard ashe did while reading The Little Golden Calf. ... he announced thathe practically had it memorized.”— Letters of Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov (1935) There is a sadness and regret as I write this, since I had to live through all that: Yes, Ilf and Petrov make it all sound very funny, but the humor is black. When you have to put up with the stupidity, bureaucracy, cleptocracy and tiranny it gets depressing and the laughter sounds hollow. “A grand satirical novel... There is more of Russia in this book than in a dozen treatises written by foreigners.” — New York Times(1932) The problem with Russia is that under Putin some of the things in The Twelve Chairs and The Golden Calf are still true.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marin

    A satirical account of the early soviet times, the NEP period, disguised as an action comedy. It is surprising how this book (and the second one - The Little Golden Calf) passed the rigour of the drastic communist censorship. I read it initially 30 years ago and I was amazed by the incessant humour and the sharp fine critique of a society which was totally different from the one portrayed in the propaganda books. People here try to make a living, some more desperately than others and none is conce A satirical account of the early soviet times, the NEP period, disguised as an action comedy. It is surprising how this book (and the second one - The Little Golden Calf) passed the rigour of the drastic communist censorship. I read it initially 30 years ago and I was amazed by the incessant humour and the sharp fine critique of a society which was totally different from the one portrayed in the propaganda books. People here try to make a living, some more desperately than others and none is concerned or interested in the "high ideals" of the "communist society". There are limits, but the authors pushed the satire much further than I thought it was possible at the time in communist Russia. Now, reading it for a second time it feels a bit dated and only of historic interest. Nevertheless, I still remembered with great fondness some of the jokes and the situations - an essential book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wilson

    I was always curious to what degree novels changed during the Stalin years. Many books were suppressed, read in secret underground meetings, or smuggled out of the country for publication. This great book by Ilf and Petrov did not need the aforementioned methods; it was published and loved in Russia. The story and writing are great, and while the backdrop of the novel is the Soviet Union, it does not pander to the ruling party. It also does not become too political, but instead uses the Soviet U I was always curious to what degree novels changed during the Stalin years. Many books were suppressed, read in secret underground meetings, or smuggled out of the country for publication. This great book by Ilf and Petrov did not need the aforementioned methods; it was published and loved in Russia. The story and writing are great, and while the backdrop of the novel is the Soviet Union, it does not pander to the ruling party. It also does not become too political, but instead uses the Soviet Union as a backdrop that allows the story to take center stage. Highest recommendation!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dora

    I don't remember when I last laughed so much while reading a novel. The characters and the situations are definitely original and almost cartoonlike. After I had read this book, I thought that I should watch the movie, too, but it somehow felt like everything was more vivid in the book. I especially liked Ostap Bender and his ingenious ways of getting the money of naive and gullible citizens. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes a good laugh :D

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lavinia

    Ostap Bender, I almost fell for you. The book is super funny. However, when I tried Golden Calf I kind of fell asleep. Not the book's fault.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marianna Neal

    If you understand the cultural references, you may actually die laughing. I almost did :)

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