Valentin Kataev : biography
Valentin Petrovich Kataev ( ; also spelled Katayev or Kataiev; 16 January (28 January) 1897 – 12 April 1986) was a Russian and Soviet novelist and playwright who managed to create penetrating works discussing post-revolutionary social conditions without running afoul of the demands of official Soviet style. Kataev is credited with suggesting the idea for the Twelve Chairs to his brother Yevgeni Petrov and Ilya Ilf. In return, Kataev insisted that the novel be dedicated to him, in all editions and translations.As related in Kataev's volume of memoirs My Emerald Crown. Kataev's relentless imagination, sensitivity, and originality made him one of the most distinguished Soviet writers.
- The Embezzlers (novel), Dial Press, 1929.
- Squaring the Circle (play), S. French, 1936.
- Peace is Where the Tempests Blow (novel), Farrar & Rinehart, 1937.
- The Blue Handkerchief (play), University of California Press, 1944.
- The Small Farm in the Steppe (novel), Lawrence & Wishart, 1958.
- A White Sail Gleams (novel), Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954.
- Our Father Who Art in Heaven (story), from Great Soviet Short Stories, Dell, 1962.
- The Beautiful Trousers, The Suicide, A Goat in the Orchard and The Struggle Unto Death (stories), from The Fatal Eggs and Other Soviet Satire, Macmillan, NY, 1965.
- The Grass of Oblivion (memoirs), McGraw-Hill, 1970.
- Mosaic of Life (memoirs), The Book Service Ltd, 1976.
- The Sleeper (story), from The New Soviet Fiction, Abbeville Press, 1989.
- Time, Forward! (novel), Northwestern University Press, 1995.
- Benedetti, Jean. 1999. Stanislavski: His Life and Art. Revised edition. Original edition published in 1988. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-52520-1.
- Brown, Edward J. 1982. Russian Literature Since the Revolution. Revised edition. 101-2, 341-2.
- Kiziria, Dodona. 1985. "Four Demons of Valentin Kataev." Slavic Review 44.4 (Winter): 647-662.
- Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995), p. 623
- Seymour-Smith, Martin. 1973. Funk & Wagnalls Guide to Modern World Literature. 951.
Life and works
Kataev was born in Odessa (then Russian Empire, now Ukraine) into the family of a teacher and began writing while he was still in gimnaziya (high school). He did not finish the gimnaziya but volunteered for the army in 1915, serving in the artillery. After the October Revolution he was mobilized into the Red Army, where he fought against General Denikin and served in the Russian Telegraph Agency. In 1920, he became a journalist in Odessa; two years later he moved to Moscow, where he worked on the staff of The Whistle (Gudok), where he wrote humorous pieces under various pseudonyms.
His first novel, The Embezzlers (Rastratchiki, 1926), was printed in the journal "Krasnaya Nov". A satire of the new Soviet bureaucracy in the tradition of Gogol, the protagonists are two bureaucrats "who more or less by instinct or by accident conspire to defraud the Soviet state".Brown (1982, 101). The novel was well received, and the seminal modernist theatre practitioner Constantin Stanislavski asked Kataev to adapt it for the stage. It was produced at the world-famous Moscow Art Theatre, opening on 20 April 1928.Benedetti (1999, 388). A cinematic adaptation was filmed in 1931.
His comedy Quadrature of the circle (Kvadratura kruga, 1928) satirizes the effect of the housing shortage on two married couples who share a room.
His novel Time, Forward! (Vremya, vperyod!, 1932) describes workers' attempts to build the huge steel plant at Magnitogorsk in record time. Its title was taken from a poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky. its theme is the speeding up of time in the Soviet Union where the historical development of a century must be completed in ten years".Brown (1982, 102). The heroes are described as "being unable to trust such a valuable thing as time, to clocks, mere mechanical devices." Kataev adapted it as a screenplay, which filmed in 1965.
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