This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "The Twelve Chairs" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (June 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in Russian. (September 2016) Click [show] for important translation instructions. View a machine-translated version of the Russian article. Machine translation like DeepL or Google Translate is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Consider adding a topic to this template: there are already 2,446 articles in the main category, and specifying|topic= will aid in categorization. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary is Content in this edit is translated from the existing Russian Wikipedia article at [[:ru:Двенадцать стульев]]; see its history for attribution. You should also add the template ((Translated|ru|Двенадцать стульев)) to the talk page. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation.
The Twelve Chairs
The monument in Odessa
AuthorIlf and Petrov
Original titleДвенадцать стульев
CountrySoviet Union
Publication date

The Twelve Chairs (Russian: Двенадцать стульев, tr. Dvenadtsat stulyev) is a classic satirical novel by the Odessan Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov, published in 1928. Its plot follows characters attempting to obtain jewelry hidden in a chair. A sequel was published in 1931. The novel has been adapted to other media, primarily film.


General view of The Twelve Chairs monument, in Odessa.
General view of The Twelve Chairs monument, in Odessa.

In the Soviet Union in 1927, a former Marshal of Nobility, Ippolit Matveyevich "Kisa" Vorobyaninov, works as the registrar of marriages and deaths in a sleepy provincial town. His mother-in-law reveals on her deathbed that her family jewellery was hidden from the Bolsheviks in one of the twelve chairs from the family’s dining room set. Those chairs, along with all other personal property, were taken away by the Communists after the Russian Revolution. Vorobyaninov wants to find the treasure. The “smooth operator” and con-man Ostap Bender forces Kisa to become his partner, as they set out to find the chairs. Bender's street smarts and charm are invaluable to the reticent Kisa, and Bender comes to dominate the enterprise.

The "conсessioners" find the chairs, which are to be sold at auction in Moscow. They fail to buy them and learn that the chairs have been split up for resale individually. Roaming all over the Soviet Union in their quest to recover the chairs, they have a series of comic adventures, including living in a students' dormitory with plywood walls, posing as bill painters on a riverboat to earn passage, bamboozling a village chess club with promises of an international tournament, and traveling on foot through the mountains of Georgia. Father Fyodor (who had known of the treasure from the confession of Vorobyaninov's mother-in-law), their obsessed rival in the hunt for the treasure, follows a bad lead, runs out of money, ends up trapped on a mountain-top, and loses his sanity. Ostap remains unflappable, and his mastery of human nature eliminates all obstacles, but Vorobyaninov steadily deteriorates.

They slowly acquire each of the chairs, but no treasure is found. Kisa and Ostap finally discover the location of the last chair. Vorobyaninov murders[a] Ostap to keep all the loot for himself, but discovers that the jewels have already been found and used to build the new public recreation center in which the chair was found, a symbol of the new society. Angered, Vorobyaninov loses his sanity.



Main article: The Little Golden Calf

Ostap Bender reappears in the book's sequel The Golden Calf, despite his apparent death in Chairs.


The novel has inspired at least twenty adaptations in the Soviet Union and abroad:

See also


  1. ^ retconned to attempted murder in the sequel


  1. ^ Schostakowitsch Werkverzeichnis, p. 100.
  2. ^ "Остап Бендер", Radio Liberty, transcript of a talk from cycle "Heroes of the Time", host:Петр Вайль, guests: culturologist Мариэтта Чудакова and actors Archil Gomiashvili (Bender – 1971) and Sergey Yursky (Bender – 1993)