Ilya Ilf: biography, family, quotes and best books

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Ilya Ilf: biography, family, quotes and best books
Ilya Ilf: biography, family, quotes and best books

Video: Ilya Ilf: biography, family, quotes and best books

Video: Ilya Ilf: biography, family, quotes and best books
Video: Е. Боратынский - Признание // Русская лирика 2023, November

Ilya Arnoldovich Ilf - Soviet journalist and writer, screenwriter, playwright, photographer. He is best known for his books with Evgeny Petrov. Today, for many, "Ilf and Petrov" is a link that cannot be broken. The names of writers are perceived as one whole. Nevertheless, let's try to figure out who Ilya Ilf is, what he lived for and what he is known for.


Ilya Ilf was born on October 3, 1897. Then his name was Yehiel-Leib Arevich Fainzilberg. His father was a bank employee - he worked as an accountant in the branch of the Siberian Bank in Odessa. The family had four sons. Yechiel-Leib was third. The birthplace of Ilya Ilf is Odessa.

Studied at a technical school. Then he worked in a drawing office, at a military factory, at a telephone exchange. I also tried myself as an accountant. After the revolution, he became a journalist, then rose to the editor of humorous magazines. He was a member of the Union of Poets of Odessa. Having combined the first and last letters of a hard-to-pronounce name, he became the writer Ilya Ilf, thereby destroying his father's dreamsabout his son's military career.

After moving to Moscow, he works in the newspaper "Gudok" (publishing organ of railway workers). I got there thanks to a friend from Odessa, Valentin Kataev. Ilya Ilf wrote feuilletons and other humorous and satirical materials. There he met the writers Isaac Babel, Yuri Olesha, Mikhail Bulgakov and Valentin Kataev's brother Evgeny, who took the pseudonym Evgeny Petrov.

Ilf and Petrov
Ilf and Petrov

Joint work with Petrov

In 1927 with Evgeny Petrov for the first time they worked together on the novel "The Twelve Chairs". The plot for the chronicle was proposed by Valentin Kataev, but the authors were so carried away by its development that they ended up with a full-fledged adventurous novel, which Kataev recommended to publish.

The following year, Ilf was fired from the paper as a result of layoffs. Petrov followed him. The two became contributors to the new Oddball magazine, co-reviewing films and plays under the pseudonym "Don Busilio."

Further on, the result of the creative friendship of the writers was a huge number of jointly written stories, essays, short stories, screenplays and, of course, novels. Their success in the Soviet Union was incredible, but nevertheless the writers did not enjoy critical acclaim.

After "The Eccentric" they actively wrote feuilletons for other publications: "Pravda", "Crocodile", "Literaturnaya Gazeta".


In the mid-1930s, Pravda correspondents Yevgeny Petrov and Ilya Ilf went on a trip to the United States, which resulted in a series of essays “One-storyAmerica.”

During the trip, Ilf developed tuberculosis, which was diagnosed ten years ago. Therefore, the writers worked separately on One-Story America. Nevertheless, a unified style developed over 10 years of work helped to make a series of unified essays on American life.

Ilya Ilf died in Moscow on April 13, 1937. He lived only 39 years.

Ilya Ilf - photographer

In the early 1930s, Ilf became seriously interested in photography. He photographed on the Leika. The writer took thousands of photographs. Among them are many unique ones - photographs of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior before and after the explosion, Mayakovsky's funeral, photographs of famous contemporaries - Mikhail Bulgakov, Boris Pasternak, Yuri Olesha. His photographs illustrated the book "One-story America".

After the death of Ilya Ilf, the photo was found by his daughter Alexandra. She collected them together, prepared for publication. So the book "Ilya Ilf - Photographer" was born.

Ilya Ilf - photographer
Ilya Ilf - photographer


About what happened to him in life, Ilya Ilf wrote from 1925 until his death. These were diaries from trips, some successful phrases, sketches of future work. Gradually, they developed into a full-fledged work-confession. The book includes sketches in the style of prose poems, parodies, critical reviews. The USSR managed to publish the book only with significant cuts. But the writer's statements still became catchphrases and quickly spread throughout the country.


Many quotes by Ilya Ilf have become catchphrases. Andhere are some of them:

  • "Wine takes time and the ability to talk. That's why Americans drink whiskey.”
  • "There are things that cannot be changed. You can take off your boots, but you can't teach a person to laugh in Russian.”
  • "It's nice to be business when there's nothing to do."
  • "He got so drunk that he could perform various small miracles."
  • "In fantasy novels, radio was the main thing. Under him, the happiness of mankind was expected. There is a radio, but there is no happiness.”
  • "All is well along the line of least resistance."
  • "Not a single pedestrian has yet run over a car, but for some reason motorists are unhappy."
  • "There's always someone who struggles to speak last."
  • "All talented people write differently, all mediocre people write the same way and in the same handwriting."
  • “Contest of liars. The top prize went to the person who told the truth.”
Ilf and Petrov at work
Ilf and Petrov at work


Speaking about the family of Ilya Ilf, first of all, it is worth mentioning his brothers. The elders, like Ilya, fell into creativity, disappointing their father. Sandro Fasini is a famous French cubist artist and photographer. Mikhail Fainzilberg is a Soviet graphic artist and photographer. The younger brother Benjamin lived up to his father's expectations and became a surveyor.

The writer met his wife Maria Tarasenko in Odessa. Masha studied at the school of painting, where Ilya's brother taught. The artist fell in love with her brother, but soon gave in under the pressure of Ilya Ilf and his signs of attention. Ilf went to Moscow - a couplecorresponded for two years. On one of Maria's visits, they got married, got a room in Sretensky Lane. Yuri Olesha and his wife were neighbors. Material well-being and a large apartment with a housekeeper appeared after the release of The Twelve Chairs. In 1935, a daughter, Sashenka, was born. Ilya Arnoldovich doted on her, but could not even hug her - he was afraid of infecting his daughter with tuberculosis.

Ilya Ilf at home
Ilya Ilf at home

Works by Ilf and Petrov

It is impossible to talk about Ilya Ilf without considering his works with Petrov. Together, the writers created a huge number of stories, short stories, essays, scripts, but the main hits were their adventure novels about the adventures of the great strategist Ostap Bender - "The Twelve Chairs" and "The Golden Calf", as well as travel essays from the collection "One-story America". Consider these works in more detail.

Ilya Ilf and the book "12 chairs"
Ilya Ilf and the book "12 chairs"

The Twelve Chairs

The novel "The Twelve Chairs" by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov was their first work. It was written according to the idea of Valentin Kataev, Petrov's older brother, which the writers developed into a full-fledged adventurous novel.

The plot is based on the search for diamonds that are hidden in one of Madame Petukhova's chairs. Despite the adventurous nature of the plot, many critics argued that the novel gives a global image of the current era. It was this novel that gave us the legendary Ostap Bender, as well as Kisa Vorobyaninov.

Society and criticism met the novel with restraint. In 1948, together with The Golden Calf, the novelwas banned from publication.

Golden Calf

The novel by Evgeny Petrov and Ilya Ilf "The Golden Calf" is written in the genre of a picaresque novel with elements of social satire. Describes the life of the schemer Bender against the backdrop of the 1930s - about what happened to him after the events described in "The Twelve Chairs". Was published in 30 Days magazine.

The reaction was still mixed. The main controversy revolved around Ostap Bender. Someone said that he was too charming for the main character, someone saw him as a caricature of a Russian intellectual.

Since May 1931 he was published in the Paris edition of the magazine "Satyricon". The first full-fledged book was published in 1932 in the USA. First appeared in Russian in 1933.

Ostap Bender, posing as the son of Lieutenant Schmidt, is trying to get money from the chairman of the executive committee of the city of Arbatov. There he meets the local "combinator" Shura Balaganov, a brave but narrow-minded young man, and the Jew Panikovsky, a swindler and rogue, talented in finding adventures. Together they go to Chernomorsk to rob a real Soviet millionaire - accountant Alexander Ivanovich Koreiko. The first taxi driver in Arbatov, the most honest Adam Kozlevich, who is in love with his car "Gnu Antelope", helps them get to Chernomorsk, who by chance becomes a member of their motley company.

Heroes of the Golden Calf
Heroes of the Golden Calf

One Story America

The book is a travel essay about Ilf and Petrov's trip around the United States of America, wherethey set off in 1935 as correspondents for the newspaper Pravda. They lived in America for three and a half months.

Some essays were written during the trip and published in Pravda with minor cuts. The first notes were published in 1936 in the Ogonyok magazine. American photographs of Ilya Ilf accompanied the text. The entire book was written during the summer of 1936. It was published in Znamya magazine, published in Roman-gazeta and Soviet writer.

Readers followed the adventures of the authors and the American married couple Adams, who accompanied the Russians from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back. The book reveals in detail the life of Americans in the thirties. On its pages, readers get acquainted with American celebrities - Henry Ford, Joseph Steffens, Ernest Hemingway and others. Ilf and Petrov describe all the cities they meet on their way, including the US capital Washington and such large cities as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and others. Of particular interest is the description of Hollywood filmmaking. The authors talk about the life of native Indians, Mexicans, meet Russian emigrants. The book can be considered an encyclopedia of American life for a Russian person. From it you can learn about national sports (rodeo, bullfighting, wrestling, American football), US landmarks, achievements of American scientists (light bulb, phonograph, conveyor belt). One of the virtues of the books is the amazing landscapes of America: prairies, mountains, deserts, national parks.

The described picture of life in the USA is veryobjective. There is no ideology in the book, but the standardization of life, intellectual passivity, gullibility are criticized. But Ilf and Petrov praise the American service, roads, the ability to work and clearly organize both life and production.

Ilf, Petrov, Slavin
Ilf, Petrov, Slavin


The books of Ilf and Petrov were so popular that the cinema did not bypass them. Based on their works, a large number of films have been shot. Films based on books by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov are very popular. World filmmakers are still turning to the plots of satirists!

"The Twelve Chairs" by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov - the story of Ostap Bender's adventures - has been filmed more than 20 times. Foreign filmmakers adapted the novel to local realities, changing the names of the characters and the plot. The Germans filmed “13 Chairs”, the films “Happiness Is Not in the Chairs”, “One of Thirteen” were released in Italy, “Please Sit” in England, and “Seven Black Bras” were released in Sweden. In 1971, a two-part film by Leonid Gaidai was released, which was a resounding success. In 1976, Ostap Bender was played by Andrei Mironov. Mark Zakharov's film consisted of a large number of musical scenes that became very popular among the people.

The second part, "The Golden Calf", was filmed only with us. The director Georgy Danelia was the first to take up the novel. In 1958, the short film Vasisualy Lokhankin was released, in which only one scene of the novel was shown. The most popular was the film adaptation of Mikhail Schweitzer. Starring Sergey YurskyLeonid Kuravlev, Zinovy Gerdt, Evgeny Evstigneev worked with him on the site. In 1993, Igor Tolstunov adapted the novel to modern realities and made the film Dreams of an Idiot. Bender became a middle-aged bald macho, Shura Balaganov became a gopnik, Panikovsky became a petty intellectual. Most recently, the Golden Calf series was released, starring Oleg Menshikov, Mikhail Efremov, Fedor Dobronravov.