The Festive Revolutions of Yurii Olesha

  • Craig Brandist
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


Yurii Olesha (1899–1960) could well be described as an archetypal fellow traveller novelist. Born to middle-class Polish parents and brought up in Odessa, Olesha developed his literary talents among young writers with whom he shared many characteristics, including Valentin Kataev, Eduard Bagritsky and Ilya Ilf. He emphatically rejected the monarchist sympathies of his parents by volunteering for the Red Army in 1919. After the civil war he worked as a journalist-propagandist and moved to Moscow, where, in 1922, he joined Ilf and Petrov, Kataev, Isaac Babel and Mikhail Bulgakov on the railway journal Γy∂oκ, writing satirical verse. In 1927 his famous novel ℨabucmb (Envy) was published to critical acclaim from all sides in the literary conflicts of the 1920s, followed by the novella Tpu moлcmrκa (The Three Fat Men) in 1928, four years after its original composition. In 1929 and 1930 he adapted his novels for the stage,1 and in the period before 1932 he wrote several highly regarded short stories. From this time, until the posthumous publication of his autobiographical Hu ∂нr бeз cmpoчκu (No Day Without a Line) Olesha published nothing but a few translations and film scenarios.


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  1. 3.
    K. Ingdahl, The Artist and the Creative Act: A Study of Yurii Olesha’s Novel ‘Zavist’ (Almquist & Wiksell, Stockholm, 1984), p. 35.Google Scholar
  2. quoted in Richard Hallett, ‘Problems of Communication in Yury Olesha’s “Zavist” and “Zagovor chuvstv”u’, in New Zealand Slavonic Journal (1982), p. 114.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    V. Peppard, ‘Olesha’s “Envy” and the Carnival’, in Russian Literature and American Critics, ed. Brostrom (Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1984);Google Scholar
  4. The Poetics of Yury Olesha (University of Florida Press, Gainesville, 1989); and Ingdahl (1984).Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    The importance of these particular foods for specifically Russian festivals is noted in R.E.F. Smith and D. Christian, Bread and Salt: A Social and Economic History of Food and Drink in Russia (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984), pp. 259–60.Google Scholar
  6. 32.
    Many commentators, like Janet Tucker in ‘Jurij Olesa’s “Envy”: A Reexamination’, Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 26, No. 1 (1982), pp. 56–62,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 43.
    On the distorting qualities of the narrative perspective in the novel, see N.A. Nilsson, ‘Through the Wrong End of the Binoculars’, in E.J. Brown, ed., Major Soviet Writers (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1973).Google Scholar
  8. 52.
    Alexander Zholkovsky, Text Counter Text (Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1994), pp. 181–212.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Craig Brandist 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig Brandist
    • 1
  1. 1.St Antony’s CollegeUniversity of OxfordUK

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