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Vițelul de aur

(Ostap Bender #2)

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  7,094 ratings  ·  157 reviews
In aceasta capodopera, cei doi mari scriitori, cu umorul lor inegalabil si cu o necrutatoare ironie, au reusit sa redea intreaga structura sociala a timpului lor, provocand rasul cititorilor, dar, in acelasi timp, facandu-i sa gandeasca.
Paperback, 393 pages
Published 1993 by Editura Point (first published 1931)
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Average rating 4.45  · 
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 ·  7,094 ratings  ·  157 reviews

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Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard sometimes for a book or a movie to make me genuinely lol. I was giggling so hard while reading Zolotoi Telenok, it deserves four, if not five stars just for that.
Ilf and Petrov are a very witty couple, and even though the narration and the language of their books seem light-hearted, a lot of work has gone into making every little detail right. And this book is full of quirky colorful little details of life and mores in 1920s' Russia. I guess I'm also really loving Russian authors for
Part political satire, part madcap adventure, part giant pun fest, The Golden Calf had me laughing out loud by the end of the first page and hooked until the end of the last.

Gurevich and Anderson offer a complete translation of the novel (unlike earlier editions that left out entire chapters) as a labor of love--they are not full-time translators--and their long hours and sometimes days spent researching and deliberating over single words or phrases certainly paid off, as they have accomplished
Ana-Maria Bujor
Just like the first one in this"series", the book was absolutely awesome. In spite of the fact that it made me chuckle and even laugh out loud a few times, it is a very deep book that says a lot about human nature, the clash between collectivism and individualism, the evolution of the Soviet society, material wealth and so on. The characters are great, especially as none of them can escape their nature, the story is very interesting and well constructed, I just wish there were more books like th ...more
Dec 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A comic Russian novel? It’s possible. The Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov is described as hilarious and raucous—and I admit, I was skeptical. The book was published in the early 1930s in the Soviet Union, first serialized over several years in a popular magazine. Funny? Maybe. But I doubted that the humor would translate over eight decades to an English-reader in the United States.

But it did. This is a book that can be best described as a caper, featuring Ostap Bender, a larger than l
Bill Paterson
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, funny and amazing this got by the censors in Russia in its time. these two authors created one of the finest characters in Russian literature -- Ostep Bender.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: author-more, world
Best satire I've ever read; leaving no stone unturned in poking fun at every aspect of soviet political system/Russian daily life in general. Ostap Bender is one of the greatest characters ever, full stop. just a relentless grifter with no shame, yet impossible not to like. This new edition has superb/extensive notes to explain all the references (historical/political/customary/literary) and the English translation is smooth/natural. Very close to 5 stars, but marking down slightly as not quite ...more
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Ilf and Petrov! They are a brilliant duo. I love the half sarcastic, half ironic style, love the way they show a picture of the Soviet society of the NEP era. I cannot say I love the characters in the sense of relating and looking up to them, but I can't but sympathize all of them. Though the end of Bender's adventures was predictable (taking into account, that the authors were Soviet journalist who just couldn't let The Great Combinator enjoy his 1 million in Rio), it was a bit of ...more
Satire at its finest, laugh out loud humor, madcap adventure and a real eye opener on the illusion that things actually change over time.
Katrina Sark
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
p.9 – Near the white gate of the provincial citadel [in Arbatov], two severe-looking old ladies conversed in French, complaining about the Soviet regime and reminiscing about their beloved daughters.
He walked under the plywood arch with the freshly painted banner, “Welcome to the 5th District Conference of Women and Girls,” and found himself at the beginning of a long tree-lined alley named Boulevard of Prodigies. “Now,” he said with chagrin, “this is no Rio de Janeiro, this is much worse.”

Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not a big fan of political satire but in this case - I was swept off my feet.
Story revolves around Ostap Bender, a lovable con artist in Soviet Russia which dreams on becoming a millionaire and moving to Rio de Janeiro - and he will do anything to make it happen.
I loved the humor, loved the illustrations but it took me a while to finish it due to a lot of complicated abbreviations from the Soviet era.
But... All in all I really liked it and will have to read the prequel - The Twelve Chairs o
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written between Russian Revolution and WWII. Sort of satire of early Soviet life--these guys also wrote "The Twelve Chairs." A con-man and his minions spend most of the book trying to bilk money from a millionaire who sort of stole his money during state-run projects, but who now lives the life of a lowly clerk, and on the salary of a lowly clerk (so as not to give away the fact that he's rich). Various adventures with cars (they pretend to be leading a cross-country race, which makes them semi- ...more
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved both The Golden Calf and The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf and Petrov. I would say for both books, what Sinclair said about The Golden Calf:

"....Upton Sinclair “assured us that he'd never laughed as hard ashe did while reading

The Little Golden Calf.

... he announced thathe practically had it memorized.”—

Letters of Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov (1935)

There is a sadness and regret as I write this, since I had to live through all that: Yes, Ilf and Petrov make it all sound very funny, but the humor
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely hilarious, I have no idea how Ilf and Petrov got away with this kind of satire (I guess, had they lived any longer, they, too, would have ended up in a gulag), while the book can, without too much stretching, work as a criticism of a money-obsessed hedonistic crook brilliantly embodied by Ostap Bender or of an entire army of crooks, small and large, exploiting the utter chaos present at a transitional moment from czarism to Communism and from one type of Communist economic policy to a ...more
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: MB
Even funnier than Twelve Chairs, I think. A few special favorite moments: (view spoiler)

Basically, there were quit
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: temp, world-tour
I wanted to read "Twelve Chairs", but was finding it difficult to get hold of a copy. This is the sequel to it, and is available for kindle and as a book. (I don't know why one should be and the other not, it seems strange.)
Some of my favourite books of Russian satire turn out to be written by Ukrainians, when Ukraine was part of the USSR. This one doesn't make my favourites list, but is pretty good. I think it would have been better if I had read "Twelve Chairs" first, as I would have understoo
Oct 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I tried to like this classic Soviet Union tale. I really tried. But, I wasn't getting the jokes. It was basically about a gang of tricksters who try to pull the wool over everyone else's eyes and rob people. I just wasn't following the humor. My friend from Russia told me that you just have to know the Soviet Union to appreciate the dry humor of this book. She said that even her daughter who lived part of her life in America wouldn't understand it at this point. I gave it a try, but I just ...more
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
I think this summarizes my taste for satyre... I guess it is funny, if you like that kind of humour. I guess it criticizes, and even not so subtly, but not enough for my taste. The idea of treating communism as a joke - just cannot work for me. There was nothing funny about communism and I hate presenting it as such. What would Germans react like to a satyre on the nazy regime? Or maybe I'm just not open-minded enough. Bottom line: it definitely did not make me laugh, even if I do believe it's v ...more
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another Russian classic that I really loved. I gave it 4 stars only because it was slow at one point, but I still loved it. The ending is phenomenal and it you are reading it and thinking of giving up because it is slow, stick with it, trust me, it is worth the effort.
This book shows us in a fun and humorous way that the journey is more important than the destination. And that you can never be truly happy if you are not acting and living the way you want to live, even if you have all the mo
cool breeze
A disappointing sequel to the much better The Twelve Chairs. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3 for the portraits of Soviet life around 1930. Perhaps a better translation/annotation would have improved my rating; the book's humor is reportedly hard to translate. I liked Richardson's translation of The Twelve Chairs, but his 1962 translation of The Golden Calf didn't work particularly well for me and I would recommend choosing a different one. ...more
This novel contains, in no particular order: a typewriter with a German accent, funerals for bureaucratic red tape (coffin and pallbearers included), anti-clerical card tricks, ideologically-correct brain teasers, a Revenge Industrial Cooperative, Soviet road rallies, a rubber stamp swearing ceaseless dedication to stamping out convention in opera, a locomotive with a newsletter, and formalized collusion in the trade of Revolutionary hero descendant impersonation.
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About as funny as a book can be. This sequel to The Twelve Chairs follows Ostap Bender, a likable con man, and his inferior partners across the southern Soviet Union and back by car, train, air, and camel. Their mark is a wealthy grifter who is so afraid of being caught by the authorities himself that he refuses to spend any money at all to avoid notice. Once the loot is in hand, however, there is nothing for a private citizen to buy.
Valentyna Zelena
This is a great irony on the USSR. And Bender is just so lovable and adventurous, I am in love with him. I think that each character is thought of to the greatest details, so there is consistency in character.
This book is easy to read, easy to comprehend and is quite funny with the hint of irony. I recommend it to everyone, who is tired of philosophical and "thinking" books. Take a bread and enjoy a good laugh with Golden Calf.
I am definitely reading more of Ilf and Petrov!
Borislav Stefanov
Amazing book. It is funny and sad, light and sophisticated at the same time.... While, perhaps written as an easy reading type of book, it is still so thorough, with such precise and vivid descriptions, that it transports you back in Soviet Russia from the 1920s-30s, and lacking any political or other propaganda brings a certain feeling of nostalgia for and era that has long gone and will not come back.
Paul Richardson
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK, I'm biased, but this - the first new translation of this classic work in 50+ years - is the freshest and most useful out there. Sure, you can pay a bit less for another version (published a month later), but it comes without Anne Fisher's copious (and immensely helpful annotations). You can pick it up on Amazon or here. ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read GOlden Calf several times, and it never stops me from laughing. Every sentence here is full of sarcastic truth regarding Soviet Union, human relations and passions. Every time I read this book I found new quotes to remember and optimism of main character can really save your day. I recommend reading it before you go to sleep and who knows maybe you will get your million some day!
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ultimately a satire on the plight of the poor millionaire in Soviet Russia (what's a private citizen to do when only the collectives are allowed to spend their fortunes?) that follows the Captain, Ostap Bender, as he attempts to extract/ extort the million he needs to reach Rio de Janeiro from another who has quietly amassed capital under Communism.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, if heavy handed. Ilf and Petrov have long been described to me as the master of soviet satire, but I can't help but feel that it all seemed a bit over the top. Osip Bender is a great character, no matter if the overall satire didn't quite hit the mark for me. I will say that the race scene where he is driving an old POS and pretends to be leading the race was hilarious
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 私の
Highly enjoyable prose, written using very humoristic, light tone. But even though events in the book are portrayed in a comical, joking manner, I finished up feeling sad for the main heroes, and many similar to them, that have been trapped in the Soviet reality. I was left with the thought, that harsh reality crushes the dreams.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
hilarious at times although i could not help but feel a certain distaste towards ostap bender's personality. i guess i expected a hapless buffoon and got a mean-spirited nietzschean superman. on the other hand this book did inspire me to fight against roadlessness and irresponsibility.
One of the funniest, most entertaining and intelligent (a rare combination!) books I've ever read. Besides Oblomov, Ostap Bender is my favorite character in Russian literature.

Congratulations to the translators: good job!
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Must read 5 13 Nov 23, 2014 08:08AM  
Fabula: Обсуждение романа "Золотой теленок" 15 18 Aug 30, 2014 03:44AM  
Better, annotated version 1 23 Jan 18, 2013 11:48PM  

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Ilya Ilf, pseudonym of Iehiel-Leyb (Ilya) Arnoldovich Faynzilberg was a popular Soviet journalist and writer of Jewish origin who usually worked in collaboration with Yevgeni Petrov during the 1920s and 1930s. Their duo was known simply as Ilf and Petrov. Together they published two popular comedy novels The Twelve Chairs (1928) and The Little Golden Calf (1931), as well as a satirical book One-st ...more

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