Envy

Front Cover
Ardis, 1975 - Fiction - 115 pages
25 Reviews
One of the delights of Russian literature, a tour de force that has been compared to the best of Nabokov and Bulgakov, Yuri Olesha's novella Envy brings together cutting social satire, slapstick humor, and a wild visionary streak. Andrei is a model Soviet citizen, a swaggeringly self-satisfied mogul of the food industry who intends to revolutionize modern life with mass-produced sausage. Nikolai is a loser. Finding him drunk in the gutter, Andrei gives him a bed for the night and a job as a gofer. Nikolai takes what he can, but that doesn't mean he's grateful. Griping, sulking, grovelingly abject, he despises everything Andrei believes in, even if he envies him his every breath. Producer and sponger, insider and outcast, master and man fight back and forth in the pages of Olesha's anarchic comedy. It is a contest of wills in which nothing is sure except the incorrigible human heart. Book jacket.

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Review: Envy

User Review  - Sarah - Goodreads

This was required reading for the 20th century Russian Literature class I'm taking in college. Don't know what it's supposed to be about even though I read the whole thing. I was so confused at one ... Read full review

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User Review  - Helen - Goodreads

Best book I've read in ten years, maybe. Read full review

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About the author (1975)

Of Polish background, Olesha chose to join the new Soviet state. He became popular in the early 1920s for his satiric verse, but his most important work is fiction, especially the novel Envy (1927), which deals with the problems of older intellectuals in accepting the new Soviet society. The play A List of Benefits (1931) continues this theme. The novella The Three Fat Men (1930), a fairy tale about revolution in an imaginary country, also proved very popular, and Olesha wrote a number of excellent short stories as well. During the Stalin period, his work was essentially suppressed; only after the writer's death was the quasi-autobiographical No Day without a Line (1965) put together from his manuscripts. Although his total output is modest, Olesha is a major modern figure. He was a master of fictional technique, particularly adept at manipulating imagery and at forcing the reader to reexamine personal expectations about the representation of reality in art. The artist's place in contemporary society is one of his major themes, developed in great detail in Envy.

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