#42 - JRL 2009-203 - JRL Home

From: Paul Richardson <paulr@russianlife.com>
Subject: Re: Ostap Bender
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2009


In a matter of days, RUSSIAN LIFE BOOKS will release a brand new
translation of THE LITTLE GOLDEN CALF, one of the greatest Russian
satires ever published. Anne O. Fisher’s lively translation (the first
in half a century) is copiously annotated, and includes an
introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two

THE LITTLE GOLDEN CALF is a gem of Russian literature. Upton Sinclair
said he could not stop laughing when he read the novel, that he knew
it almost by heart. Lion Feuchtwanger called the novel "one of the
best works of world satire." And Vladimir Nabokov praised the authors
for their "first-rate fiction." Yet the novel was still criticized
(namely for making the main character, a con man named Ostap Bender,
too attractive a character) and despite being published in full in
serial form in 1931, it did not come out in book form in Russia until
1933, seriously compromised by the censor’s pen.

This edition is the first unabridged, uncensored English translation,
and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the
Russian journal "30 Dney". It resurrects the con man Ostap Bender,
"the smooth operator," and follows him and his three hapless co-conspirators
on a hilarious romp through the Soviet Russia and Central
Asia of 1930. Bender claims that he has "very serious differences of
opinion with Soviet power. It wants to build socialism, and I don’t."
He wants to emigrate to Rio de Janeiro, so he and his crew set off in
pursuit of an underground millionaire, who, Bender is certain, "will
bring me his money himself, on a little saucer with a sky-blue rim."

So many quotations from THE LITTLE GOLDEN CALF have entered everyday
Russian speech that it stands alongside the works of Griboyedov,
Pushkin, and Gogol for its profound effect on Russian language and
culture. The tale overflows with legendary literary episodes, offering
a portrait of Russian life that is as funny and true today as it was
when the novel was first published. For decades, foreigners trying to
understand Russia have been advised to read the adventures of Ostap
("This book says more about Russia than a dozen tracts written by
foreigners…" the New York Times wrote in 1932). This new translation
makes them more enjoyable than ever.

Advance orders can be placed with Russian Life Books:

... or with Amazon.com:


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