By Yuri Olesha, Ken Kafuls, Marian Schwartz
A brand new York evaluate Books Original
One of the delights of Russian literature, a travel de strength that has been in comparison to the simplest of Nabokov and Bulgakov, Yuri Olesha’s novella Envy brings jointly slicing social satire, slapstick humor, and a wild visionary streak. Andrei is a version Soviet citizen, a swaggeringly self-satisfied multi-millionaire of the foodstuff who intends to revolutionize glossy lifestyles with heavily produced sausage. Nikolai is a loser. discovering him under the influence of alcohol within the gutter, Andrei supplies him a mattress for the evening and a task as a gofer. Nikolai takes what he can, yet that doesn’t suggest he’s thankful. Griping, sulking, grovelingly abject, he despises every little thing Andrei believes in, whether he envies him his each breath.
Producer and sponger, insider and outcast, grasp and guy struggle from side to side within the pages of Olesha’s anarchic comedy. it's a contest of wills within which not anything is certain other than the incorrigible human center.
Marian Schwartz’s new English translation of Envy brilliantly captures the power of Olesha’s masterpiece.
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I want fame of my own. Here we’re afraid of paying attention to anyone. I want a lot of attention. I wish I’d been born in a small French town, grown up on dreams, set myself some lofty goal, and one fine day left my little town and walked to the capital and there, working fanatically, achieved my goal. But I wasn’t born in the West. Now they tell me no one cares about anyone’s individuality, the most remarkable individual is nothing. And gradually I’m adjusting to this truth, but it could be debated.
In Nikolai’s case, the emotional essence is envy, the bane of the classless society. The era’s governing trope was the machine that would give rise to the envyless, emotionless, well-greased mechanized man, per the strictures laid down by the American efficiency expert Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856–1915), whose mathematical streamlining of the industrial workplace became integral to Marxist-Leninist practice. Given the communalization of personal life, exemplified by dining halls like the Two Bits, Taylorism was expected to regulate the most ordinary human relations and emotions.
The president’s life was passing as slowly as a clock. I watched spellbound. A magnificent man lay there, his beard thrust forward, in a green-tinted cube. It was magnificent. Then for the first time I heard the rumble of time. Time was racing overhead. I swallowed ecstatic tears. I decided to become famous so that someday my wax double, replete with the rumbling of the ages, which only a few would be given to hear, would pose just like that in a green-tinted cube. Now I write repertoire for showmen: monologues and couplets about tax inspectors, Soviet princesses, nepmen, and alimony.