The Little Golden Calf
|The Golden Calf|
|Author||Ilf and Petrov|
|Original title||Золотой телёнок|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Twelve Chairs|
The Little Golden Calf (Russian: Золотой телёнок, Zolotoy telyonok) is a famous satirical novel by Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov, released in 1931. Its main character Ostap Bender, also appeared in a previous novel by the authors called The Twelve Chairs. The title alludes to the "Golden calf" of the Bible; another possible rendering of it in English, less literal but better tuned to the air of the novel, would be "The Gilded Calf".
Ostap Bender is still alive, after somehow surviving the assassination in the previous book. This time he hears a story about an "underground millionaire" named Alexandr Koreiko. Koreiko has made millions, a truly enormous sum, by living on 46 rubles a month, through various illegal enterprises, taking full advantage of the widespread corruption in the New Economic Policy (NEP) period. Living in Chernomorsk (literally: Black Sea city, referring to the city of Odessa), and working as an accountant for a government office in charge of economic management, Koreiko keeps his large stash of ill-gotten money in a suitcase, waiting for the fall of the Soviet government, so that he can make use of it. Together with two associates, both petty criminals, and an extremely naive and innocent car driver, Bender finds out about him and starts to collect all the information he can get on Koreiko’s business activities. Koreiko tries to flee, but Bender eventually tracks him down in Turkestan, on the newly-constructed Turkestan–Siberia Railway. He then blackmails him into giving him a million rubles.
Suddenly rich, Bender faces the problem of how to spend his money in a country where there are no legal millionaires. Nothing of the life of the rich that Bender dreamt of seems possible in the Soviet Union. Frustrated, Bender even decides to anonymously donate the money to the Ministry of Finance, but changes his mind. He turns the money into jewels and gold, and tries to cross the Romanian border, only to be robbed by the Romanian border guards, leaving him only with a medal, the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Koreiko finds another job as an accountant. He hides the rest of his cash, and continues to wait for the fall of the Soviets.
- Ostap Ibragimovich Bender, the main character and protagonist
- Shura Balaganov, the second "Son of Lieutenant Schmidt"
- Mikhail Samuelevich Panikovsky, the third "Son of Lieutenant Schmidt"
- Adam Kazimirovich Kozlevich, a taxi "Wildebeest" (Russian: "Антилопа Гну") driver
- Alexander Ivanovich Koreiko, a millionaire
There are two alternative endings to The Little Golden Calf. One was written at the time the novel was originally submitted for publication to the magazine Thirty Days. The other appeared later, probably due to the objections to the writers for lionizing their main character. According to the first, Ostap Bender, after obtaining his "million", gets to know the sorrow of a lonely man who has fulfilled his purpose, renounces the fortune, and marries his beloved, Zoya Sinitskaya. In the second, he is torn. At first, he returns his "million" to the Commissariat of Finance, but then changes his mind. Determined to travel to Rio de Janeiro, he is caught crossing the Romanian border and sent back home, after being deprived of his fortune by Romanian border guards.
Cultural influence of the book
The book contributed a number of catchphrases and colorful terms into the Russian language, such as "Horns and Hoofs company ("Рога и копыта")" and "Children of Lieutenant Schmidt", see the Wikiquote page for the book for more.
- Не надо оваций! Графа Монте-Кристо из меня не вышло. Придется переквалифицироваться в управдомы.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Little Golden Calf|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Golden Calf (Russian Wikiquote)|