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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Richard Lourie Translator. Ivan Chonkin is a simple, bumbling peasant who has been drafted into the Red Army. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he is sent to an obscure village with one week's ration of canned meat and orders to guard a downed plane.
Apparently forgotten by his unit, Chonkin resumes his life as a peasant and passes the war tending the village postmistress's garden.
Just a Ivan Chonkin is a simple, bumbling peasant who has been drafted into the Red Army. Just after the German invasion, the secret police discover this mysterious soldier lurking behind the front line.
Their pursuit of Chonkin and his determined resistance lead to wild skirmishes and slapstick encounters. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.
Published March 29th by Northwestern University Press first published More Details Original Title. Private Chonkin 1. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Is there a version in the original Russian language? Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3.
Rating details. More filters. Sort order. May 08, Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing. The storyline is simple: a pilot of a Soviet aircraft makes a forced landing in the farming village of Krasnoye near his Air Force base.
And how he would have taken a tall, well built, disciplined military hero for his main character but all those crack students of military and political theory where already taken up and all he was left with was Chonkin. Likewise, I relished the Mikhail Bulgakovesque dream sequences that gave Mr. Voinovich the opportunity to flex his creative imagination. Stalin tells the sergeant in charge that Private Chonkin abandoned his post guarding the aircraft, lost his combat weapon and therefore deserves to be shot.
Oh, no, he's been duped! Chonkin realizes he has blurted out a classified military secret to the first person actually a pig he ran into at the table.
And one of the dire consequences of his fatal mistake? Humanork is on the menu! A tray bearing naked Comrade Stalin holding his famous pipe, all garnished with onions and green peas. Stalin grins slyly to himself behind his mustache. The third dream is another doozy. Gladishev says if Osya is a true Soviet human he would go to the front to fight the Germans.
These are but snatches catching several colorful, hilarious bits. What's noteworthy is the way these dreams reinforce a major theme running throughout the novel: the prevailing Soviet system is a complete misreading of the rhythms of nature and life. Such an inept, ass-backwards system will lead men like Gladishev to do such things as fill his house with shit, even eat shit and drink water mixed with shit, based on scientific and materialistic calculations that all life is nourished by shit.
Such a misreading has its effect on all areas of Soviet life and community. For instance, at one village meeting the chairman of the local kolkhoz collective farm chastises members who fail to work the minimum number of workdays. Among the Comrades singled out for a tongue lashing is Zhikin, one of those who flaunts his age and illnesses. Let him sit himself down in a furrow and crawl from bush to bush at his own speed, weeding as he goes and thereby fulfilling the minimum workday requirements.
This is a very funny book. But as you are laughing, Comrades, you will be brought face-to-face with life on a community farm and in the military that is downright cruel and brutalizing. One last example that really tickled my funny-bone. The narrator relays a rapid change of chairmen over at another village. The first chairman was put in jail for stealing, the second for seducing minors, and the third took to drinking and kept on drinking until he drank up everything he owned and all the kolkhoz funds.
I enjoy laughing and this novel provided ample opportunities. I can see why Ivan Chonkin is now a widely known figure in Russian popular culture. Vladimir Voinovich, Born "Kuzma Gladishev was known as a learned man not only in Krasnoye but in the entire area. View all 10 comments. Feb 23, Tony rated it really liked it Shelves: wwii , russian. It's a farce; and it kept me smiling then laughing, at a little sly humor or at outright buffoonery. Skewering the communist system: A meeting is an arrangement whereby a large number of people gather together, some to say what they really do not think, some not to say what they really do.
Or the foolishness of war: Chonkin did not learn about what had happened Barbarossa immediately because he was sitting in the outhouse, in no hurry to leave. The laugh out loud part is when, through a misunderstanding, a Russian officer escaping from Chonkin is thought by other Russian officials to be a German soldier.
He has to be interrogated, right? So they find some junior lieutenant who 'studied' German in school. What he actually learned pretty much began and ended with : Heute ist das Wasser warm. But in he goes to question 'the German'.
The poor Russian officer wakes from a concussion, thanks to a rifle butt to the jaw, and is groggily confronted by this soldier barking some Guten Morgen, Herr at him.
Thinking himself captured by the Nazis, he starts shouting Heil Hitler! Stalin kaput! I was entertained. That has to count for something. View all 8 comments. Chonkin a hapless, stupid soldier, is a classic Ivan from a folk tale who although simple and straight forward will win through in the end.
Taken out of his environment and placed in another ecosystem things quickly look very different. Sent to guard an aeroplane that was forced to land in a village, the dumbest soldier in the Red Army becomes the cleverest man for miles around. There he finds true love in the shape of the cleverest woman in the village view spoiler [ a woman who is beautifully Chonkin a hapless, stupid soldier, is a classic Ivan from a folk tale who although simple and straight forward will win through in the end.
There he finds true love in the shape of the cleverest woman in the village view spoiler [ a woman who is beautifully described as ' literate', to contextualise her response in a moment of crisis hide spoiler ] which plainly is right and appropriate. Alas the craziness of the world ensures that things rapidly go wrong in order to maintain the comedy, but not too badly wrong since Voinovich was able to continue the story in a sequel Pretender to the Throne view spoiler [ admittedly though this a sequel that can be happily and productively missed hide spoiler ].
One of the few books with a joke featuring Stalin's two wives, as well as a man trying to develop a plant which grows potatoes at the root and fruits tomatoes off the stem too. View 1 comment. Dec 31, Michael Scott rated it liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , humor , politics , anthropology. Vladimir Voinovich 's Chonkin is a good foray into the Russian muzhik's commoner's psyche. Born and raised a farmer in Stalin's time, Ivan gets called to the army, where he embarks first unbeknowingly then unwillingly into an adventure that will change spoiler: and end his life.
Chronicling this journey, the author gets to talk about the "joys" of real-Communism: indoctrination of simple people who can barely speak not to mention write , formation of cliques for sharing the little local powe Vladimir Voinovich 's Chonkin is a good foray into the Russian muzhik's commoner's psyche. Chronicling this journey, the author gets to talk about the "joys" of real-Communism: indoctrination of simple people who can barely speak not to mention write , formation of cliques for sharing the little local power, propagation of meaningless orders from the top, the "wireless phone"lossy or faulty transmission of messages through human chains, obliteration of personal opinion, etc.
Poorly educated and easily dumbfounded, Chonkin is perhaps a less lovable character than Svejk; it is perhaps because of this that Voinovich makes his story take surreal and oneiric turns. What I disliked about this work is the rather thin storymuch thinner than in Moscow , by the same author, the lack of powerful charactersa characteristic of Voinovich's work, as far as I can tell, and the often rough wordingVoinovich is no Russian classic.
Overall, a nice read but overall not inspiring. View 2 comments. Jul 12, Namrirru rated it it was amazing Shelves: novels , russian. How does this have such a bad "rating?
The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin
In the small village of Red makes a forced landing military plane U The command is unable to tow the aircraft and decided to put him near the hour. The military unit near the village of Red served ordinary Ivan Chonkin. Unpretentious and simple soldiers, who looked far from exemplary soldier, serving his military duty in the economic division of the regiment, doing what works in the kitchen, carrying loads on a horse. It was his command post near to detach aircraft in the village of Red.
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