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Who is the real author of the novels “Twelve chairs” and “the Golden calf”, and were Ilf and Petrov “literary blacks»

The idea that the famous dilogy about the son of a Turkish subject was written not by Ilf and Petrov, but by someone else, over the years since the novels were published, has developed into an independent, almost detective story. Most recently, he embodied in the book-study, which is quite categorically stated: “Twelve chairs” and “Golden calf” did not create the one who appears on the cover.

As Ilf and Petrov were “literary blacks”

By the time the first chapters of the Twelve chairs were printed, Ilya Ilf was thirty and Yevgeny Petrov was twenty-five. The story of the story about the hidden treasures in the chair was told by the authors themselves and looks like this.
Once Valentin Kataev, a brilliant Soviet writer, the author of the novel “The white sail is lonely”, had the idea to give a good idea for a new book to develop novice writers, to, as he joked, feel Dumas-father, putting his signature on the works of “literary Negroes”. The choice fell on the staff of the newspaper “Gudok” – his own younger brother Kataev Eugene (who took the pseudonym Petrov) and Ilya Ilf, and they were asked to write a work on the search for treasures in an ancient set. These two young people recently, in the summer of 1927, returned from a trip to the Crimea and the Caucasus, during which they began to make plans for a joint literary project.

The new creative tandem liked the idea, and in three months of autumn 1927 the novel “Twelve chairs” was written. At first, Ilf and Petrov consulted on the text with “Dumas-Kataev”, but seeing that things are going well, he fully entrusted the content of the book to his “literary Negroes”, indicating only that he wants to get a dedication on the first page of the future work, and from the first fee – a gold cigarette case as a gift. These requirements have been met.
The book was written together, arguing over each phrase. Where the dispute did not arise, delayed particularly – believed that such an automatic coincidence of opinions means that the phrase is too much on the surface. Nevertheless, the result of the work was achieved very quickly, and even faster decided with the publication: in January 1928 in the magazine “Thirty days” appeared the first chapters of the “Twelve chairs”, which was very unusual for that time, censorship is usually checked manuscripts for several weeks or even months. It is believed that accelerated the publication of the text personal guarantee Valentin Kataev, as well as the patronage of Vladimir Narbut, poet and writer, who headed the editorial Board of “Thirty days”.

In the same 1928 published a book, Ilf and Petrov, inspired by the success, after some time, continued creation of joint works. “Golden calf”, where “resurrected” Ostap continued his adventures, was born with much more difficulty than the first part of the dilogy. The beginning of the novel was laid in 1929, but it was completed only in 1931, and, according to the authors, it was hard for them.

In 2013, a book by Irina Amlinski, who called herself a reader-“digger”, was born. After spending 12 years on a thorough study of the texts of Ilf and Petrov, their biography, as well as works and in General the literary reality of Soviet Russia of the twenties and thirties of the last century, she came to the firm belief that the “Twelve chairs” and “Golden calf” was another author, and the creative tandem only gave the works a name under which it was possible to publish books. Amlinski relied in his arguments primarily on the analysis of phrases that make up the text of the dilogy, finding in their construction and lexical composition obvious similarities with the works of another writer. But how could this adventure be accomplished?

Central in the history of the appearance of the “Twelve chairs” was the figure of Valentin Petrovich Kataev. This talented and promising writer, the hero of social labor and winner of many state awards and prizes, had not only a great influence in literary and political circles, but also an ambiguous past. Part of his young years came to serve in the army of Denikin during the Civil war, and in 1920, being in Odessa, which in the battles constantly passed from hand to hand, Kataev with his brother was imprisoned on charges of anti-Soviet conspiracy.

Eugene at that time was 18 years old, but on the advice of his older brother, he called the date of his birth in 1903 – in the hope that the minor will be applied more lenient measures. Despite the fact that some of the participants in the conspiracy were shot, the brothers Kataev were released. Evgeny didn’t mention this fact from the past in any way, even having got a job in the Odessa criminal investigation Department – thus passed “cleaning” and well proved on service. In 1923 Kataev, Jr. moved to Moscow, where he lives with his older brother Valentin.
A number of literary critics and historians, and with them, and Irina Amlinski, I believe that Valentine and Eugene Katayevy could run errands for the KGB, and therefore was protected from harm. As a work for the benefit of the existing regime, senior Kataev was asked to organize the writing of a satirical novel directed against Trotskyism and generally supported the existing ideology. Perhaps the fact explains the requirement of the text of the dedication: so Kataev outlined his involvement in the affair.
Amlinski notes that among all the literary heritage of Ilf and Petrov – and it is neither more nor less than five volumes – there is no more than one work whose success is a little like the recognition that has received dilogy. “One-story America”, perhaps the most famous thing in addition to the adventures of Bender, written as if the other hand, as if between its authors and the Creator of the “Twelve chairs” has nothing in common.
Could it be that Valentin Kataev, responsible for the project, entrusted the writing of a satirical novel to a certain master, and transferred the right to be called the authors to his younger brother and his editorial colleague? Then who is this man who wrote a brilliant work and voluntarily remained in the shadows?
The Author – Mikhail Bulgakov?

In those years in the Soviet Union there was only one brilliant writer, he created works that received recognition, and it was he who at the time of writing “Twelve chairs” was under the special attention of security officers. Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov, a frequent guest of the editorial office of “Gudka”, who wrote for the newspaper feuilletons.
Bulgakov worked at night, his works were created quickly, and the version that “Twelve chairs” appeared in a couple of months without the knowledge of his wife seems quite plausible. Much more plausible than the amazing coherence with which very young writers Ilf and Petrov allegedly created together a masterpiece of Soviet literature. It is also interesting that immediately after the novel was published, Mikhail Bulgakov received a three-room apartment in Moscow and his manuscripts seized by the GPU a year earlier.

Probably, after reading “the Master and Margarita”, everyone caught himself thinking that this book is surprisingly similar in syllable to novels about the adventures of Ostap Bender. According to Bulgakov’s biography, this novel was begun in 1928, and the third wife of the writer Elena Sergeevna after the writer’s death completed its editing and registration.
Comparing the texts of the tandem of Ilf-Petrov and Bulgakov, one can see obvious similarities and Parallels: “Hercules” and Massolit, crow Slobodka and a bad apartment, descriptions of a psychiatric hospital in both works. In the idea of the children of Lieutenant Schmidt, too, there is something Bulgakov, as in the rhythm of phrases, disassembled and studied from different angles and showing the coincidence of the styles of writing all three works.
“At half past eleven from the North-West, from the village of Chmarovka, in Stargorod came a young man of twenty-eight” (“12 chairs”).
“In a white cloak with a bloody lining, shuffling cavalry gait, early in the morning of the fourteenth of the spring month of Nisan…” (“Master and Margarita”).
In these two phrases experts find the complete convergence of music, rhythm of phrases.
In turn, the literary language of Ilf and Petrov meant short, “chopped” sentences, devoid of the musicality that is characteristic of the “Twelve chairs” – they used rather the language of journalists, which, in fact, were.

Bulgakov, who may have created a satirical work, outwardly directed against the opponents of the regime, but in fact parodying the entire Soviet reality, did not reveal the secrets of his authorship in relation to the “Twelve chairs”. The evidence of the participants of the events could have shed light on what was happening – but Ilf died in 1937, and Vladimir Narbut, who took the most active part in the publication of the novel, was declared an enemy of the people and shot and the mention of his name anywhere could bring trouble. Petrov himself died in 1942 in a plane crash. In the end, in 1949, the dilogy was declared harmful and banned for publication and distribution.

There were no manuscripts of novels about Bender that could fill in the white spots in the question of the origin of these works – only Ilya Ilf’s notebooks have survived. At first glance, the sensational, the theory of authorship Bulgakov nevertheless has all the rights to exist and not refuted by experts, at least, among those who accepts or supports this version of the creation of the novels, appear quite credible literary critics and philologists: Dmitry Galkovsky, Yuri Bassin, Igor Dry, Lazarus Freidheim, Vladimir Kozarovitsky.

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