London: Abelard-Schuman, 1973. - 214 c. Translated by Heather Maisner. Скан 600dpi.The Russian original first appeared in the magazine Druzhba Narodov in 1971. This is the first book by Bulat Okudzhava to be translated into English, but its elegant construction - encompassing broad humour and delicate fantasy - should ensure him a prominent place in the ranks of modern European novelists. In 1862 Tolstoy fell foul of the Czarist authorities: he had started schools for the peasants on his country estate and employed as teachers students from Moscow university, some of whom were suspected of radical activities. A Moscow police spy, Michael Shipov, later arrested for drunkenness and indiscretion, was detailed to investigate the affair. Bulat Okudzhava has used this incident - quoting contemporary letters from the people involved - as the framework for a delightful satire on bureaucratic obtuseness in the classic tradition of Russian humour. Shipov’s adventures involve him with a beautiful young widow, a narrow escape from a pack of wolves, fights, disguises and a memorable feast. Seedy, but engaging, Shipov is an extraordinary character - a pursuer of pickpockets, familiar with the Moscow underworld, he suddenly finds himself catapulted into a realm of high intrigue where he sets about making himself perfectly at home, with the aid of his fertile imagination. Bulat Okudzhava was born in Moscow in 1924 of Georgian and Armenian descent. During the Second World War he fought at the front and was wounded. He studied at Tiblisi University and taught at a village school until he went to Moscow in 1956. He was poetry editor of the Literary Gazette when it published Yevtushenko’s controversial poem Babi Yar, and he was later asked to leave the magazine. Okudzhava is famous throughout the Soviet Union for his poetry readings at which he accompanies himself on the guitar, and tapes of his readings are circulated throughout the country. His two best-known books of poetry are Lyric and Islands. He began writing prose in the 1960s. His first published story appeared in Pages of Tarusa, a collection of writings by young Soviet authors, which was soon withdrawn by the authorities because of its liberal tone. He has since published two, as yet untranslated, stories, Poor Avrosimov and Djora’s Photograph. The Extraordinary Adventures of Secret Agent Shipov . . . first appeared in the magazine Druzhba Narodov in 1971.
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