The Twelve Chairs

From Academic Kids

The Twelve Chairs (Двенадцать Стульев) (1928) is a famous satirical novel by the Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov, q.v. Its hero, Ostap Bender reappears in the sequel, The Little Golden Calf. The original book was made into a Mel Brooks film, released in 1970, and also provided the basis for the film The Thirteen Chairs (1969).


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Vagabond Ostap Bender meets a dispossessed nobleman Ippolit Matveevich Vorobyaninov who has just discovered, during a deathbed confession, that his relative has hidden a treasure in jewels from the Bolsheviks in one of the twelve chairs of the family's dining room set.

Those chairs, and all other personal property, were expropriated by the government after the Russian Revolution. Bender, having discovered the secret of Kisa (as he calls Vorobyaninov), forces a partnership which in the end helps Kisa immensely because he lacks Bender's charisma and street-smarts. Kisa and Bender set off together, enduring many false leads and various tribulations, to locate the chairs and recover the fortune.

Early on, they find the chairs have been split up and sold individually and so after lots of travel, meeting "comrades" from every walk of life in Soviet Russia, and perpetrating plenty of cons to pay for the enterprise, the duo eventually discovers the last, 12th chair, that must - by process of elimination - contain the treasure.

Vorobyaninov attempts to murder Bender to avoid splitting the loot. He then discovers that the jewels have already been found, and the proceeds from them have been spent on building a new, grand public building.

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