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The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin
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The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin (Private Chonkin #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,889 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Ivan Chonkin is a simple, bumbling peasant who has been drafted into the Red Army. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he is sent to an obscure village with one week's ration of canned meat and orders to guard a downed plane. Apparently forgotten by his unit, Chonkin resumes his life as a peasant and passes the war tending the village postmistress's garden. Just a ...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published March 29th 1995 by Northwestern University Press (first published 1969)
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Glenn Russell
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing


Short, bowlegged, big red ears, field shirt sticking out over his belt, Private Ivan Chonkin, the hero of Vladimir Voinovich’s novel, has been likened to Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk, and for good reason – like Švejk, Chonkin is an everyman forever at war with the forces - political, military, social, whatever - that use the iron fist of power in an attempt to obliterate a person’s unique individuality and humanity.

Squarely in the great tradition of satire and the absurdist fiction of
...more
Tony
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian, wwii
This has been called 'the Russian Švejk', and I can certainly see that. It's a farce; and it kept me smiling then laughing, at a little sly humor or at outright buffoonery.

Skewering the communist system: A meeting is an arrangement whereby a large number of people gather together, some to say what they really do not think, some not to say what they really do.

Or the foolishness of war: Chonkin did not learn about what had happened (Barbarossa) immediately because he was sitting in the outhouse, i
...more
Hadrian
Charming slapstick comedy about a dopey Ivan-the-Fool and his adventures in the Soviet Union right before the German invasion in 1941.

I laughed at the extreme situations that our Ivan finds himself in (view spoiler) but just the little throw away details are funny too. I laughed at the man in the beginning who has bread so hard and stiff he could cut things with it, and the very naughty ru
...more
Jan-Maat
Chonkin a hapless, stupid soldier, is a classic Ivan from a folk tale who although simple and straight forward will win through in the end. Taken out of his environment and placed in another ecosystem things quickly look very different.

Sent to guard an aeroplane that was forced to land in a village, the dumbest soldier in the Red Army becomes the cleverest man for miles around. There he finds true love in the shape of the cleverest woman in the village (view spoiler)
...more
Namrirru
Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian, novels
Yikes! How does this have such a bad "rating?" This book is hilarious! Every sentence and every page is tickle your tummy funny. Voinovich channels Gogol's anti-hero Chichikov in Chonkin, a petty soldier sent to guard a broken down airplane in the middle of nowhere. His troubles start with a cow... and get more and more ridiculous!
Michael Scott
Vladimir Voinovich's Chonkin is a good foray into the Russian muzhik's (commoner's) psyche. Born and raised a farmer in Stalin's time, Ivan gets called to the army, where he embarks first unbeknowingly then unwillingly into an adventure that will change (spoiler: and end) his life. Chronicling this journey, the author gets to talk about the "joys" of real-Communism: indoctrination of simple people who can barely speak (not to mention write), formation of cliques for sharing the little local powe ...more
Chuck LoPresti
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Private Chonkin is breezy and hilarious read about a quixotic failure of a hero that serves as a compendium of communist dunderheads, snollygosters, lickspittles, boozers and bedpressers. A more complete catalog of nincompoopery – I am not familiar with. Voinovich’s piss-take on communist society should leave no attentive reader with a straight face. There’s little gravity in the style of Voinovich’s writing as he’s obviously focused on mockery. But style aside – unseating the power of communist ...more
Mike
Mar 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I didn’t laugh until the Molotov cocktails started flying. This book probably wouldn’t mean anything to those who don’t know the history of the USSR. The absurdity of life brilliantly portrayed in this book is founded on the evil reality of the socialist system. Innocent people executed, anonymous condemnation to “The Institution”, paranoia, redistribution of possessions of anyone who has more than someone else. What I had on my mind throughout was the realization that few today understand the s ...more
Jim
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, fiction, russia
The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin is perhaps the funniest book I have read all year. It tells the tale of a simpleton Russian soldier named Ivan Chonkin who is sent to guard a plane that came down in the village of Krasnoye. As the Germans picked this time to invade Russia, Chonkin is forgotten. He begins a relationship with the local postmistress and all seems well...

...until his neighbor whose plants were destroyed by the postmistress's cow turns him in as a deserte
...more
Баясгалан Батсуурь
Сталин 1956 онд үхсэн. Харин цэрэг Чонкины намтар 1961-1963 рны хооронд бичигдсэн гэхээр Сталины тахин шүтэгдэлийг эсэргүүцэн гарч ирсэн Хрушевийн үеийн зохиол юм уу даа. Сталины үед бол эхний догол мөрөөсөө л зохиогчоо цаазлуулах ялд унагачих бүрэн чадалтай энэ хоржоонт романыг Войнович бичиж зүрхэлсэн нь нэгт Сталин үхсэн, хоёрт Хрушев Сталиныг хурцаар шүүмжилж гарч ирснийх болов уу. Тиймдээ ч нөхөр Сталиныг гахай болгож махыг нь зооглох, эсвэл эм хүн, ижил хүйстэн болгох зэрэг аймшиггүй бичлэ ...more
Vilis
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tik asu satīru par 2. pasaules karu vēl nebiju lasījis. Smieklu koeficients arī labs, lai gan diezgan liela daļa grāmatas ir atkāpes dažādās smieklīguma/sasaistes pakāpēs. Uzzināju arī, kāpēc zirgi nekļuva par cilvēkiem.
Robyn Latchford
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A witty, fun Soviet Satire. Only 311 pages and not too intimidating, I inhaled this book and enjoyed it a lot. If you like The Master and Margarita you will also like this book!
Kobe Bryant
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very good book with a lot of cool moments like people having dreams about animals turning into people, the guy who was crossbreeding potatoes and tomatoes and made manure vodka, the old Jewish guy whose last name was Stalin, etc
Lauri
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Algul tundus täiesti mõttetu, kuigi tuleb tunnistada, väga ladusalt kirja pandud sõnamulinana. Mida aga edasi seda huvitamaks see jutuveeretamine muutus ja olgugi et väljareklaamitud "vene Švejkist" oli asi ikka väga kaugel, hakkas üha enam ja enam halastamatut ja varjamatut antisovetšinat välja joonistuma. Irvitati kõige üle, niivõrd kuivõrd 1941. aastal kui kogu hiigelriik ägises NKVD raudses haardes üldse millegi üle irvitada sai. Aga sai, näiteks kui umbes kolmveerand raamatust oli mul parim ...more
Czarny Pies
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in the era of Stalin
Recommended to Czarny by: Robert Service
Shelves: russian-lit
Private Chonkin has frequently been called the Schweik of Stalinist Russia. Like Schweik he uses his extraordinary stupidity to outwit his persecutors. Unfortunately, for Chonkin Stalin's communist apparatchiks were far more skilled persecutors than Franz Joseph's Imperial bureaucrats. Whereas Schweik survives and prospers, Chonkin inevitably is dispatched to the Gulag.

Gogol and Bulgakov are the only two Russian writers that I am aware of who possess the same level of talent in comic writing as
...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Érika
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's one of the funniest and wittiest books I've ever read!
César Carranza
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Me pareció bien, pero creo que el error fue mío, esperaba mucho de él, es una novela que inició muy bien, muy divertida, pero fue decayendo, creo que Chonkin es un poco irritante, se encuentra en un límite entre la estupidez y la astucia, pero no a la manera de Svejk (personaje con el que es comparado) que lleva al limite la obediencia militar pasando por el ridículo, mas bien es un lento, sin mucha gracias y en algunos puntos un poco pretencioso, creo le falta consistencia a nuestro héroe, por ...more
Juan Hidalgo
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una estupenda historia en la que el soldado Iván Chonkin resulta que no es tan tonto como parecía en principio, y cuyas peripecias nos harán sonreír y hasta carcajearnos en alguna ocasión, al tropezar con la inefable burocracia rusa y la rigidez del sistema stalinista.

A su autor, este libro le supuso la expulsión de la sociedad de escritores de la Unión Soviética y más tarde la pérdida de su nacionalidad, y es que, aunque habían transcurrido 21 años desde la desaparición de Iosef Stalin, critica
...more
Dan Richter
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wenn man nach langer Zeit wieder einmal eine russische Humoreske zur Hand nimmt, muss man sich wieder an den genüsslich-weitschweifigen Stil gewöhnen. Aber überraschend schnell nimmt der Roman an Fahrt auf. Was zunächst wie eine russisch-dörfliche Klamotte beginnt, wird zu einem drastisch-mutigen Umschreiben der Geschichte. Uderzo lässt die Römer verdreschen, Tarantino tötet im Nachhinein Hitler, und bei Woinowitsch bekommen NKWD und Rote Armee ihr Fett weg.
Die Leichtigkeit, mit der sich am Ende
...more
Caroline
Dec 28, 2011 rated it liked it
It must be that the language of the original cannot really be translated into English. Or else you have to be a lot more familiar with Russian history and individual politicians/soldiers to understand who is being parodied. I found this amusing but not as devastatingly funny and cutting as other reviews have stated.
Vitaly Belman
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is among the funniest books I've read. You do need some background knowledge about the political situation of Russia in 1940 to appreciate the humor, but if you have general interest and understanding of the Soviet era, I recommend this book highly. As a comparison, to a much more popular "12 chairs" book, I found this one a lot funnier.
Marcia Estima
Pelo início do livro, pensei que fosse ser mais hilariante. A parte final foi a mais engraçada, quase que terminava de uma forma positiva, mas uma reviravolta final desiludiu-me, embora tenha percebido a intenção do autor: a sátira ao regime totalitário da União Soviética da época da 2ª guerra.
Dmitry Klekovkin
Первые 2 части прочитались на одном дыхании. В третьей части сюжет к Ченкину возращается в самом конце. На мой взгляд автор переборщил с гротесском на тему Сталина и лошади, порой бывало скучно. Настоящая антисоветчина. С какой-то стороны актуальна и по сей день.
Mike
Nov 13, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
I started this and laughed...for some reason never finished it. Need to go back.
Will
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Russian Good Soldier Svejk. Gets extra marks because the author smuggled Life and Fate out of the Soviet Union.
ger
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel of such gentle humour is difficult to write and maintain a consistent narrative. I give this 5 stars precisely because of the success with which Voinovich carries it off. He turns the entire USSR and it's bureaucratic underpinnings into a sort of Bertie Wooster without a Jeeves to save the day. Right up to the last sentence he kills with a thousand small laughs.
Annika Lentso
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mõnus lugemine - lugeja ees rullub lahti Venemaa külakese absurdne maailm koos jabura valitseva süsteemiga. Segunevad ebausk, religioon kui ka valitseva korra karm käsk kahte eelmist ignoreerida ning pühitseda kehtivat korda ning isakest Stalinit. Kõik kokku on veider ja naljakas. Ühtaegu uskumatu, kuid veidi eelnevat korda nuusutanuna - täiesti võimalik olustik.
Travis
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian-fiction
brilliant. fucking hilarious. i need to re-read.
P. Kubala
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very, very funny and charming from the first to the last page. It's not easy to be funny in a novel; Voinovich succeeds brilliantly. This novel has earned its place in the tradition of great satires.
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Vladimir Voinovich (Владимир Николаевич Войнович) was born in what is now Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, but which at the time of his birth was Stalinabad, a city in the USSR.

Voinovich started writing and publishing poetry during the army service; he later switched to writing prose and ultimately became famous as a master of satirical depiction of the absurdity of Soviet life. However, he d
...more
More about Vladimir Voinovich

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Private Chonkin (3 books)
  • Pretender to the Throne: Further Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin
  • A Displaced Person: The Later Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin

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“A meeting is that measure whereby a large number of people gather and some say things that they don't think and others think things that they don't say.” 8 likes
“-Little girl whom do you love more, mama or papa?
-Stalin!”
6 likes
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