VOINOVICH, Vladimir. Zhizn i neobychainie prikliucheniia soldata Ivana Chonkina / roman-anekdot/ Kniga pervaia. Litso neprikosnovennoe. [Moscow], 1970.
Two parts in one volume, foolscap folio. Original black cloth, carbon-copied typescript with extensive alterations (some pasted over; mainly in the second part) and corrections in the author's hand; ff. [i], 95, 97-121 (pagination error); 74, f. 74 repeated, f. 74a, f. 75, f. 75a, f. 76, f. 76a, f. 77, f. 77a, 78-95, f. 95a-b, f. 96a-b, f. 97a-c, 98- ; foliation in part two occasionally cropped by the binder, final leaf with a few marginal flaws, otherwise remarkably clean and fresh; dated by hand at the end 1963-1970.
Vladimir Voinovich (1932-2018) was a Russian dissident, human rights campaigner and satirical author. For a long time most of his output could only be published in samizdat editions or in the West. The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin is his main work, and remains one of the best Russian satirical novels of the 20th century. It is about life in the Red Army and Soviet Union during and after the Second World War. The picuaresque hero Chonkin is 'the most dispensable' soldier, and the satire could be described as a Soviet good soldier Sveik. The first two parts were written from 1963 to 1970 (part one had appeared on its own in 1969, a third part was published in 2007) and made Voinovich famous in the West and the Soviet underground. In 1974 he was excluded from the Soviet writers' union, his telephone line was cut two years later, in 1980 he was stripped of his citizenship and emigrated to Munich. After his rehabilitation under Gorbatchev in 1990 he moved back to the Soviet Union, and remained an outspoken critique of the authorities, including Putin.
Ivan Chonkin has been described by Ted Solotaroff in his review for the Times as 'a stunning book as well as a brave one: a tender, hilarious piece of rural naturalism leavened by a pure imagination, and a stinging, far-reaching burlesque of institutionalized fear, stupidity, treachery, delusion and absurdity. Call it a masterpiece of a new form - socialist surrealism' (quoted after Voinovich's obituary in the Washington Post.