CBR 11 Bingo – Far and Away
This is a 1928 post-Soviet revolution novel by two young writers. In a significant way, this novel is a lot like Don Quixote, which is not to say it’s a quixotic novel per se, but a novel in which a man who is blinded by illusions about the reality of the present is trying to live with his head in the past.
We meet Ippolit Matveyovich, a fallen noble (post-revolution) who is scrabbling in the new regime for a sense of well-being, wealth, status, and other things that’s been lost in the previous ten years. He meets with another former noble, the dying Claudie Ivanovna who tells him about a fortune of jewels she’s sewn up into a chair she once owned (a set of twelve — the title). With this knowledge, but not entirely equipped with the skills necessary to move forward he joins up with Ostap Bender — a “smooth talker” — a young scam artist who offers to split the cash and help track down the chairs, which have been appropriated by the state.
The novel goes from there as they follow up leads on each of the different chairs and find themselves looking aroung every corner of this new country, new regime, and new ideology governing what had been a centuries old way of life. In addition to this new world with these characters, we also get to see criticisms of a lot of the other aspects of the new Russian landscape written by two young authors less expressly of one world or the other.