Northwestern University Press, 2011.New Book.
Paperback. 574 pp.
More faithful to the original text and its deeply resonant humor, this new translation of The Twelve Chairs brings Ilf and Petrov's Russian classic fully to life. The novel's iconic hero, Ostap Bender, an unemployed con artist living by his wits, joins forces with Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, a former nobleman who has returned to his hometown to look for a cache of missing jewels hidden in chairs that have been appropriated by the Soviet authorities. The search for the chairs takes them from the provinces of Moscow to the wilds of the Transcaucasus mountains. On their quest they encounter a variety of characters, from opportunistic Soviet bureaucrats to aging survivors of the old propertied classes, each one more selfish, venal, and bungling than the last. A brilliant satire of the early years of the Soviet Union, as well as the inspiration for a Mel Brooks film, The Twelve Chairs retains its universal appeal.