Reading about the adventures of Ilf and Petrov in English translation leaves me with a mixed feeling. On the one hand, I understand how this is terribly interesting for anyone who is studying Soviet culture. The book is indeed revealing in many ways, and was so popular that references to it became a part of the language itself. On the other hand, the admirers of the book seem to forget something that it does not show: two talented provincial journalists making a name for themselves in the capital by ridiculing the downtrodden in a political system that was becoming more and more cruel every day. I don't know if I am correct in noticing some similarity in style between I&P's writings and the journalism of young Trotsky. What I think they have in common is a sincere disdain for people that don't share their point of view, and a naïve faith that their talent, youth, vigor make them closer to the essence of life and gives them a natural right to ridicule those who couldn't - or didn't want to - join the "festival of life" ("праздник жизни", words that they made an idiom).
Twelve Years of Languagehat.
3 hours ago