ILA 8 Jockers
Letter Essay N6
As I am writing this I am finishing I. Ilf and E. Petrov’s second book, the golden cattle. It is a sequel to their first book, 12 chairs. It is a very popular book series in Ukraine and Russia. The both books are a bit longer than 300 pages long. It was written in 1931 and the story of the book itself takes place in the Soviet union of the early 1930’s. It is a comedy and it does it’s job very well by taking real life of the Soviet’s and putting it into a comedy. The main character of the book, Ostap Bender, is a con man. He is one of the main characters from the first book. His dream since he was a kid was to immigrate to Rio. In this book he reveals this more openly than in the first book. Both books have movie versions of them. There is an English version of the book, but I am reading the Russian one. I chose the two books, because they are classics of Russian literature and I think everyone should read famous classics.
The book starts out as Ostap Bender is walking down a busy street, daydreaming about Rio de Janeiro. He walks into an office and goes to the boss of the faculty. He says he’s a son of some famous revolutionary (obviously not true) but the boss falls for it. Then another man walks into the room claiming that he’s the son of the SAME revolutionary. Ostap looks at that man and that man looks at Ostap. They act quickly and say that they are long lost brothers. The boss falls for it again. He says he’d give them a gift, but he forgot his wallet at home. He then gives them a coupon for free lunch and 5 rubles (Рубля – Rublya – Russian money) and Ostap and the strange man rush out of the building before they get caught. Ostap asks that man a couple of questions and finds out that his name is “Шура Балаганов” ( Shura Balaganov ) and they sit down at a small outdoor cafe, because the restaurant from which were the coupons was closed. They bought some Kvass and talked about business. Ostap told Shura about how much he dreams to go to Rio, and says that business is very bad here because there are no rich people in the Soviet Union. But then, Shura tells him that there’s one, but he’s a millionaire in secret, and he lives a poor life to hide that he’s rich. He also told Ostap that that the millionaire’s name is Alexander Koreiko and that he lives in Chernomorsk. Then a taxi drives by (quite rare for those days, especially in a small town) with a man shouting “C’mon, hop in! I will drive you anywhere you want!” But people looked at him angrily, because some people who he driven, he told the police about them. Ostap thinks for a minute and says that that man could help them get to Chernomorsk. They catch up with the little green car and tell the man about their plan. The man had a small thief history so he agreed to help them. Ostap then said “Your Gas, Ideas Ours,” and then they rolled off to Chernomorsk.
At first they noticed that they were low on gas. Ostap told them that there was a race going to and that they could pose as a winning car to get gas for free. They did exactly that. On the way they met a man by the name of Panikovskiy, who was one of the people from the group of con people that Shura was part of. He was stealing a duck from a farm and people were running after him. The group of con people agreed that everyone has their territory, but Panikovskiy has broken that agreement, so Shura was angry at him, but Ostap thought of some uses for Panikovskiy. Panikovskiy was a rude old man, but he feared Ostap. Ostap wanted to take away money from the millionaire, Koreiko, without doing it illegally. When Ostap’s party arrives in Chernomorsk, Ostap starts working on his plan immediately. He finds out where Koreiko lives, all his friends, where he works and e.t.c. Then to keep things legal, he opens up a small shop. Afterwards he pursuits top people of the company where Koreiko works and asks them for information. He finds out that there are a lot of shady businesses covered by this company, but even the boss of the company does not know who funds everything. All of the clues start to point as Koreiko and Ostap makes a big folder with all of the information he collected. His plan was to tell Koreiko about everything, and then propose a deal of just one million rubles for that folder. If Koreiko wouldn’t give the money, Ostap would give the folder to the authorities and Koreiko would be arrested. Ostap executes the plan, but he gets interrupted by a gas bombing and Koreiko runs away. Then Ostaps starts dating Koreiko’s date and finds out that Koreiko went to work at a rail planting train. Ostap gets in the green car with his party and they all go to one of the stops where the train was supposed to stop. Then suddenly Panikovskiy grabbed a duck and started running away. A woman quickly came after him and gave him a good wack. Afterwards he started running away, and Shura began running after him. half an hour passed, they weren’t returning, so Ostap and the car driver went to investigate what happened. When they came to the spot where Shura was running, they found Panikovskyi lying on the ground with his hand on his heart.
“Heart attack,” said Shura. “I was running after him, and then, he just fell over.”
Then Ostap saw the train arrive.
I am not going to reveal any more, in fear to spoil the ending for you.
I was surprised when suddenly a GAS ATTACK ruined Ostap’s plan. In the last book the authors did make an earthquake spoil Ostap’s plans, but the earthquake was an actual historical event. I was also caught off guard when Panikovskyi died. In the last book Ostap was killed in the end (the authors say that he was resurrected by surgery) so I thought if someone might die in the book it will be in the end. Though in this book, nobody was holding a grudge against anyone, so I didn’t think that anyone would die in this book, I was wrong.
I didn’t understand why the author made Ostap go alone onto the train this time, because in the last book, he was with a companion the whole time. I guess, authors do like to change their tactics a little bit so they surprise their readers a little bit.
“…But Koreiko wasn’t there. Instead of Koreiko’s face there was a huge big leather mask, with swim-like goggles, and a huge rubber hose, that looked like an elephant’s trunk, but had a huge can like filter on the end of it. Ostap was so surprised, he even jumped.
— What kind of joke is this? — said Ostap in an angry booming voice, whilst extending his arm towards the gas mask. — Dear Comrade Defendant, please behave yourself.
But as soon as he said that, a group of people ran in, wearing the same exact gas masks, and with more than a dozen of these people standing, Ostap could not tell which one of them is Koreiko. For a second, Ostap thought that he saw Koreiko’s khaki pants.
— Comrade! You’re poisoned!
— Who’s poisoned? — Shouted Ostap, trying to run away. — Let me go!
— Comrade, you were poisoned by gas. — Happily said the doctor. — You entered a poisoned area, see the gas bomb?” (page 546)
This is the part where Ostap’s plan gets spoiled by a gas bombing.
If I needed to rate this novel, I’d give it a 10/10. It is one of the best books that I’ve read. I love classics and specially classics like these.