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" Nervous People and Other Satires Paperback – 1 Oct 1975

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (1 Oct. 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253201926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253201928
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 874,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Gathers short stories, novellas, and excerpts from the autobiographical Before Sunrise to shed light on the Soviet author's humor and irony.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anna Abrahamyan on 10 July 2008
Format: Paperback
To discover an English edition of Zoshchenko feels like finding a million dollars (well, I guess Euroes would be more preferred (hope, I'll never have to edit this line:)). Every story is an opening door from cranky old corridors, themselves confused of the whole transition from the immature capitalist to an equally premature communist era in Russia of early 20th century...

A head of a provincial kolkhoz (collective agricultural unit) is on an official trip to Moscow to solve some subsidies issues, which in itself makes him self-important vis-a-vis his Moscovite relatives. Moreover, he has the luxury of staying at a hotel with a private bathroom AND the suite's own WC! At first, the flow of his relatives (who'd otherwise had chronically ignored him in a pre-bolshevik era) seems like a dream come true - finally, he's being acknowledged for all his deeds as a good communist party novice. But then he notices that everyone coming in asks him if they could take a bath...a little while later, the relatives and neighbours of relatives start coming in in a rather polite and patient que...Finally, the 'overuse' of the sanitary-hygienic facilities (for "luxury" is a capitalist term), the 4th floor hotel room starts to leak water onto the floors below and the hotel direction (e.g. "management") forbids him from leaving the hotel until he has paid (in money or in some form of reimbursment via taking serious responsibility)...

This is an excerpt, a proof of the magic that Zoshchenko created. His flexible and brilliantly charismatic mind had found a way by which to avoid miniscule censorship that might otherwise lead the author into exhile, eternal 'discharge' from the Writers' Union and a dozen other punitive mechanisms used against brilliant minds...
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Let me begin by stating that Zoshchenko (or more simply Zoscenko) was one of the greatest writers of satire of the 20th century, and also a very, very original author, who upheld the torch of literary freedom (and more...) in the USSR, along with Vladimir Voinovich (see his "Fur Hat" or "Monumental Propaganda"). His sympathetic understanding of the foibles of human nature, an eye for exposing hypocrisy wherever it arose, and his refusal to kowtow to the obtuse idiocy of an absolute ideology, especially when we consider how this was expressed during Stalin's murderously tyrannical regime, and with all the consequences of the clash between these different factors, gave rise to his unique short (some even very short) stories. I say this with conviction after having read three collections of his stories. That should be sufficient to explain my 5-star rating, but there's more to say about him. He also faced outright persecution, despite being one of the Russian people's favorite writers, ultimately being declared a "non-person", without giving in to the system that wanted to destroy him. He also created an idiosyncratic personal literary style, couching his narrations in the slang and everyday speech of the common man, rather than use the pompous official verbiage. Both of these characteristics of course were major causes of his problems with the Soviet regime. It could not accept his humorous belittling of the many absurdities of life in the Soviet Union, which obviously called into question its authority, its public mythology of perfect human progress. And of course tyrannical regimes do not like laughter, seeing it as a form of rebellion, since fear is the major weapon used by tyrants to control their subjects, and laughter debases fear.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Satire at its Best 19 Mar. 2000
By Aurin Squire - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I read Nervous People for a Russian Lit class I was overwhelmed by the absurd humor. There hasn't been a funnier, politically poignant and appealing satirist since Lewis Carrol or Jonathan Swift.
Zoschenko etches out distinct parts of the Soviet landscape with hilarious spoofs, ridiculous characters and dark conclusions; Gogol would be proud.
Despite the passing of time and demise of the Soviet Union the humor still survives. What's poking fun at Russians can easily be translated to the same for American government and bureaucracy.
Admittedly this isn't for everyone. It's not all-age-encompassing like "Alice in Wonderland" or as current as PJ O'Rouke. Nevertheless it's worth a read for young and old adults.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Day-to-day notices of life in the 1920s--Soviet style 14 Jan. 2005
By Adrienne Shirley - Published on
Format: Paperback
Not since Gogol have I found such a bizarre, zany narrative, and such a peculiar narrator! Here Zoshchenko's narrator takes us through vignettes of everyday Soviet life, mostly of the NEP period, praising everything and making a fool of himself at the same time. The intense humanity of his characters come through, even (especially) when they're rioting in their collective kitchen over a coveted kitchen utensil. Very nice reading and re-reading for years to come.
I'm happy to see that Zoschenko is published in English 26 Dec. 2014
By Nikotino - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm happy to see that Zoschenko is published in English. This is the masterpiece of the Soviet satire picturing in detail what Soviet life was like, and it's not even about certain material discomfort and poor living conditions but more about how people were treated, basically as nothing of importance, as zero. And it's written not as tragedy but in a naive way that you laugh about this absurd which we were going through.
"Bathroom" ("Banya") is my favorite story where the absurd of Soviet life reaches the peak. If you want to feel what it's been like to be a Soviet citizen, you're highly recommended to read it.
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