The Twelve Chairs

The Twelve Chairs

infobox Book |
name = The Twelve Chairs
title_orig = Двенадцать стульев
translator =

author = Ilf and Petrov
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = U.S.S.R.
language = Russian
series =
genre =
publisher =
release_date = 1928
media_type =
pages =
isbn =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Twelve Chairs" ( _ru. "Двенадцать стульев") (1928) is a classic satirical novel by the Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov. Its main character, Ostap Bender, reappears in the book's sequel, "The Little Golden Calf".


In Soviet Russia in 1927, a former member of nobility, Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, works as a desk clerk, until his mother-in-law reveals on her deathbed that her family jewelry had been hidden from the Bolsheviks in one of the twelve chairs from the family’s dining room set. Those chairs, along with all other personal property, had been expropriated by the government after the Russian Revolution. He becomes a treasure hunter, and after the “smooth operator” and con-man Ostap Bender forces Kisa ("Kitty", Vorobyaninov’s funny childhood nickname, which Bender prefers) to partner with him, they set off to track down the chairs. This ultimately helps Kisa, who doesn’t possess Bender’s charm and is not as street-smart. At the very beginning, the two “comrades” find out that the chair set has been split up and sold individually. They are not alone in this quest. Father Fyodor took advantage of the deathbed confession, and has also set off to recover the fortune. In this search for Mme Petukhova’s treasure, he becomes Vorobyaninov’s main rival.While in this enterprise Ostap is in his element, Vorobyaninov is not so happy. He’s steadily abandoning his principles and losing self-esteem.“The Twelve Chairs” satirizes not only its central characters, but also the people and institutions they encounter: the operations of a Moscow newspaper, student housing, a provincial chess club, and so on. Through the process of elimination, the two finally discover the location of the last, 12th chair. The one containing the treasure.To avoid splitting the loot, Vorobyaninov attempts to murder Ostap. He then discovers that the jewels have already been found, and that they have been spent on building a new public building. Bender represents values of the old order, egoism and individualism. He knows “four hundred ways to get money without working for it”, and he has no future in the post revolutionary Soviet Union.Ilf and Petrov’s observations on aspects of everyday life are comic, but shrewd.“The Twelve Chairs” was first published in 1928.


The book inspired a film called "Keep Your Seats Please" in 1936 by Ealing Studios, starring George Formby. The action takes place in England; another difference between the book and the film was that the story revolved around seven chairs, not twelve. The comedy "It's in the Bag" starring Fred Allen and Jack Benny was very loosely based on the novel, using just five chairs. Mel Brooks later made a film, more closely based on the novel, titled, "The Twelve Chairs" (1970); the story also served as the basis for the film "The Thirteen Chairs" (1969). Shortly after that, two films were made in the USSR: one in 1971 by Leonid Gaidai and the other in 1976 by Mark Zakharov, featuring Andrei Mironov as Bender. See The Twelve Chairs (film) for more details on adaptations.

External links

*cite web
title =12 chairs novel and movie
work =
url =

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