In this enterprise Ostap Bender is in his element, deceiving the credulous individually and en masse, telling tall tales and spinning money-making schemes from nothing, and happily resorting to theft and fraud. Vorobyaninov is not so happy, steadily abandoning his principles and losing his self-esteem. The Twelve Chairs satirises not just its central characters, however, but the people and institutions they encounter: the planning and implementation of a new tram system in a small town, a farcical counter-revolutionary conspiracy, the operations of a Moscow newspaper, student housing, a provincial chess club, and so forth. And there are comic but shrewd observations on aspects of everyday life.
As well as being great entertainment, The Twelve Chairs, first published in 1928, offers a revealing view of Russian life at the time. It was wildly popular within the Soviet Union and has been adapted for film many times, both in Russia and in the West.
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