Situation Awareness Paradoxicality and Paradoxical Logic of Characters in the Novels of I. Ilf and Eu. Petrov

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The study is devoted to the study of the role of paradoxes in the novels written by I. Ilf and Eu. Petrov «The Little Golden Calf» and «The Twelve Chairs». In this aspect, the novels that have become world classics have not yet been the subject of detailed scientific study; an attempt to fill this gap determines the relevance of this article. The concepts of «antinomy», «dichotomy», and «intentionality» are considered. The study of the elements of paradoxes, their step-by-step tracing allows to reveal hidden meanings, the vertical context provides a better understanding of the linguistic personality of the characters and the author’s message. The paradoxical nature of evaluative characteristics can manifest itself not only in a horizontal context, but also in a vertical, diachronic one. The contexts containing the paradox extracted from the texts of the indicated novels were selected as the material of the study. The article concludes that in the language of literary works the paradox is used expressly, intentionally, it reflects the linguo-creative thinking of the authors, used as a stylistic device to create the image of a character, as an individualization of his speech, and also performs numerous other functions. It was revealed that the paradoxes used for the image of the main character, O. Bender, who is a strong linguistic personality, represent one set of qualities, and for Panikovsky - another. The paradoxical statements coming from Bender and the speech of other characters in the novels by I. Ilf and Eu. Petrov are psychological, they become persuasive arguments for situation awareness, a means of calming, creating the appearance of a lack of violence against the victim to cover up their own plans.

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It is traditionally believed that oppositions cannot exist side by side, that one of the links of a dichotomous pair excludes the existence of the other — either black or white; either good or bad; either singular grammar form or plural. Violation of this principle is perceived as a violation of the logic of things, of everything that is correct.

However, both in life and in artistic work, paradoxical matches often coexist and even add brightness, richness, showiness, including artistic images, to the speech of characters. Unraveling the effect of a «competent» paradox awakens the reader’s thought, expands intellectual horizon, enriches vocabulary.

Outstanding writers often choose to express the artistic world of a linguistic personality with the help of dichotomies. Such oppositions, antinomies permeate, for example, the work of V.V. Nabokov. Paradoxes of S.D. Dovlatov are a kind of creative «absurd logic» [1]. The world of the modern writer V.S. Tokareva is about the same. The paradoxes of the altered state of consciousness of characters in fiction [2] are woven into the fabric of the narrative of many foreign and domestic writers. Many aphorisms are constructed as antinomic [3].

The concept of antinomy is an ancient term of philosophy and logic, denoting fundamental opposite principles, essentially irremovable contradictions inherent in the nature of things. Antinomic statements contradict each other and at the same time are logically provable [4. P. 224].

Subsequently, this term began to be widely used in other fields of science, in particular in linguistics, in linguoculturology. V.A. Maslova believes that antinomy is the most important property of culture, which, at the same time, makes it practically impossible to develop a single and consistent definition of culture. The researcher understands antinomy «as the unity of two opposite, but equally wellfounded judgments in culture» [5. P. 16].

Antinomy in paremic units and in the language of literary works often coexists with paradoxicality, which in this case is deliberately laid down by the author with certain stylistic and artistic goals. As noted by N.T. Fedorenko and L.I. Sokolskaya, «often there are aphorisms based on paradoxicality, which gives them originality and novelty and is only at first glance perceived as a contradiction to generally accepted opinions: «There are dead people who need to be killed» (L. Denoyer); «Ignorance of the laws does not relieve responsibility, but with the knowledge this could be done easily» (S. Lets)» [6. P. 83].

The evergreen novels of I. Ilf and Eu. Petrov are full of paradoxes, their recognition and clues are still far from complete, despite the fact that «The Little Golden Calf» and «The Twelve Chairs» are almost a century old and have been studied by philologists of various trends.

The purpose of this article was to study the intentionality of paradoxes in the aspect of expressing evaluativity and logic, to identify their functions in the language of the two named novels. The insufficient number of scientific papers devoted to this range of problems determined the relevance of this article.

The Role of Paradoxical Evaluation  in Horizontal and Vertical  Contexts of a Novel

On the contrary to previously stated, the assessment or self-assessment of a character in literary work is the result of the author’s linguo-creative thinking. Being always intentional, built upon situation awareness contrast, opposition (genuine or imaginary), becoming outwardly paradoxical, the assessment plays the role of an implicit marker of irony, sarcasm, joke, satirical ridicule, characterization of the speaker. Moreover, out of context, situations of speech of this kind of assessment are usually perceived unambiguously and without a smile.

Let us turn to examples from the novels by I. Ilf and Eu. Petrov «The Twelve Chairs» and «The Little Golden Calf». To study these examples the methods applied were as follows: vocabulary analysis, semantic interpretation, identification of the communicative orientation of the text within the framework of the speech act theory, the study of means expressing subtext information, the method of identifying three-component semantic structure of speech works, which includes the subject of speech, the verbalized attitude to it and the purpose of reporting about it.

Proudly telling Balaganov that before the revolution, pretending to be blind, Panikovsky imperceptibly robbed people who led him across the street, he complains that it was the revolution that put an end to such a good and rich life of the «former blind man»:

I used to pay the policeman at the corner of Khreshchatyk and Proriznaya street five rubles a month, and no one touched me. The policeman even made sure that I didn’t get offended. He was a good man! His last name was Nebaba, Semyon Vasilievich /…/ And now? Can you contact the police? I have not seen people worse. They have become some kind of ideological, some kind of «Kulturtragers». And so, Balaganov, in his old age he had to become a swindler.

Sadly exclaiming: «If not for the revolution, would I have become a child of Lieutenant Schmidt, what do you think?” Panikovsky stubbornly sees nothing in common between the «professions» of the imaginary blind and the imaginary son of the revolution hero. The first seems worthy and respected, since it was almost legalized thanks to the policeman and provided with a permanent income («I had a family and a nickel-plated samovar on the table») and, therefore, according to Panikovsky, the respect of others. The second type of activity did not give anything of that kind, led to begging, and that is why, in accordance with the same logic, it was called by its real name — a scam. Namely there is a «reverse paradox»: what should be considered unusual, paradoxical, in this situation is not, and paradoxical concepts are contextually approaching, unifying.

The paradox is also inherent in Panikovsky’s assessment of the police — it is «bad» precisely because it is ideological, that is, it expresses the official ideology of the state. The outdated word «kulturtrager» is also semantically ambivalent, contains opposite assessments, and it is impossible to determine which of the meanings and which of the assessments Panikovsky puts into this word. Dictionary meanings of this lexeme is as follows:

«Kulturtreger» — bookish. Culture beam (the ironic name of the imperialistcolonizers who exploit the population of enslaved countries under the guise of planting culture) [German Kulturträger]» [7].


Outdated. an imperialist-colonizer participating in the exploitation of the population of enslaved countries, colonies under the pretext of planting culture u The German spirit does not create universally binding norms for any culture, as the German culturalists want to assure. N.A. Berdyaev, «The Meaning of Creativity», 1914 [Russian National Corpus]

Bookish, often ironic. Culture beam, enlightenment extensionist u In the Parisian subway, Kulturtragers hung posters with poems — from the decadents to the poets of the Pleiades. Maxim Sokolov, “Efimych is taking the right course!”, 2003 // «Izvestia» [8].

O.I. Bender, the commander of the false rally, evaluates his activities in the same way. Seeing nothing wrong in «taking money honestly» from those who have made millions dishonestly, the descendant of the janissaries considers himself «an ideological fighter for banknotes». In the autonomination, Bender is a «doctor» («I am a neuropathologist, I am a psychiatrist. I study the souls of my clients») and, at the same time, a «free artist», a «cold philosopher»; «poor poet and polygamist» and «vulture eagle».

The amusing inconsistency of these metaphorical self-evaluations surprisingly contributes to the creation of the integral image of the great strategist, makes his figure more prominent, reliable, vital, dynamic. The ratio of speech and personality was determined in the works of E. Sapir [9].

The personality of Ostap charms with its originality. His sparkling mind is able to catch the subtleties of the human psychology, to find amusing where other people would not have thought of it. Having discovered in himself an attraction to bureaucracy and bungling, Bender decides to open the office:

We’ll be stocking up on something really funny, like teaspoons, dog numbers, or ribbon floss stuff. Or horns and hooves. Perfectly! Horns and hooves for the needs of the comb and mouthpiece industry.

It would seem, why is the preparation of something extremely funny is wonderful? And what’s funny about teaspoons or ribbon floss stuff (fringe, cords, tassels, so popular in the first half of the 20th century)? Calling these goods ridiculous, Bender evaluates them as petty, insignificant, worthy of contempt next to the powerful scope of the big deal he has conceived — the liberation of the cunning Soviet millionaire from part of his «mental burden». Apparently, after twenty pages of the novel, the authors develop this theme in the following way: collecting incriminating materials about Koreiko’s activities, «Ostap worked with enthusiasm. If he had directed his efforts to the actual procurement of horns or hooves, then it must be assumed that the mouthpiece and comb business would have been provided with raw materials at least until the end of the current budgetary century” [10. P. 494]. A kind of paradox can be seen in the fact that although Bender’s assessment of «very funny» is highly subjective and conditional, yet from the time of the novel’s release to this day, the combination of «horn and hoof» in many people causes a humorous mood.

The beginning of the chapter:

There lived a poor private trader in the world. He was rather a rich man, the owner of a haberdashery store, located obliquely from the cinema «Capitaly.

The stunning combination of opposing assessments is explained in the following context, undergoing various transformations. Deliberately resorting to accentological inversion (private owner is poor) and dividing the assessments into two different sentences, the authors seek to avoid the direct oxymoron «poor rich man» — «the problem of interpreting the assessment is closely related to the syntactic properties of the statement. It can even be argued that evaluation sets certain discourse parameters » [11. P. 215]. In this case, the definition of poor immediately acquires a humorous coloring, because the stereotype works: a) poor rich does not mean beggar; b) well, what troubles can a rich man have? At this stage of perception by the reader, the adjective poor temporarily loses its inner form, and the entire first sentence is perceived abstractly, as the beginning of a fairy tale.

When reading the following context, the oxymoron poor rich person also does not become complete, because the same seme «trouble, misfortune» appears, which reached a rich private trader four times in the form of «terrible taxation». At the end of this episode, dedicated to the misadventures of this character, this misfortune reaches its climax: the financial inspector is chasing a private trader, and he has sunk into oblivion. It can be assumed that in this case, to the meaning of «unfortunate, exhausted» in the word poor, the meaning «ruined, needy» is adjusted, which is already opposed according to the dictionary to the word rich [see 7. Vol. 1. P. 67]. In this case, the oxymoron breaks up completely and really turns into a combination of a poor man who was once rich. Thus, with the formal completeness of the two sentences noted above, semantic incompleteness and ambiguity arise due to the presence of evaluative predicates, which, according to N.D. Arutyunova, informatively insufficient [11. P. 215] and are replenished from the discourse. The episode described in the novel begins with a general, albeit somewhat shocking, assessment, and it «is the result of a comparison of the positive and negative properties of the object (subject or state of affairs) ». At the same time, “the sequence of the message does not often go ahead of the course of practical reasoning: the speaker first reports the axiological result, and then proceeds to the actual characterization of the object” [11. P. 216].

Going on a first date with a millionaire underground worker, Bender tries to «figure out» his appearance, making a choice between a «fat watchdog» and a «red-faced sycophant with white eyes». Mistakenly characterizing the latter as simply a nonentity, a Soviet mouse with twelve rubles in a savings bank, obsessed with the dream of buying a hairy coat with a calf collar, Ostap initially dismisses this figure as a candidate for the role of the «golden calf». When the error is cleared up, a stunned Bender delivers a different verdict:

«Yes», said Ostap after some silence. This one won’t bring you money on a plate. Unless I really ask. An object worthy of respect.

Praise from of the great strategist, who has developed four hundred relatively honest ways of taking away the money, gets a double bottom. Of course, this is not a show of respect, admiration in the usual sense. In the context of the novel, in the process of getting to know its main character, the reader comes to understand the change in Bender’s assessment of Koreiko as the acquisition of a worthy — very strong — partner-opponent in the «game of life». Approval, positive in stylistic, actually evaluates purely negative qualities — secrecy, vile cunning, the ability to lead a double life, and even the external «double appearance», behind which the true shark is so skillfully hidden.

At the same time, Bender’s assessment also contains neglect, a sense of his strength and superiority in cunning — Koreiko is assessed not as a «person», but as an «object» (not even a subject). In this phrase, there was a contamination of set expressions: «an object worthy of attention (interest)» and «a person worthy of respect». A new connotation arises — for all its «merits» Koreiko is just an object for the application of the forces and mind of the crafty swindler O. Bender.

An employee of «Hercules», Bomze, like a chameleon, instantly changes his mind in conversations with colleagues who have different attitudes towards Soviet power:

During the break, Bomze, who loves the spiritual, managed to chat with a dozen colleagues. The plot of each conversation could be determined by the expression on his face, in which bitterness about the clamping of individuality quickly turned into a bright smile of enthusiasm. But whatever the feelings that overwhelmed Bomze, his face did not leave the expression of innate nobility. And everyone, from the seasoned comrades from the local committee to the politically immature Kukushkind, considered Bomze an honest and, most importantly, a person of integrity. However, he was of the same opinion about himself.

The main paralinguistic tool that has become a link between opposite things and led to a similar conclusion is the «noble facial expression» of the unprincipled chatterer Bomze. His own inflated self-esteem and the assessment of his surroundings become sarcastic characteristics as narrow-minded, stupid, superficial people.

Immediately after the execution, punishment with rods of Vasisualy Lokhankin, in which all the numerous tenants of the communal apartment with the main entrance and the bathroom were tightly boarded up, Vasisualy Andreevich agrees to rent out his room to Bender:

— I won’t bargain, — Ostap said politely, but here are the neighbors… How are they
— Wonderful people, — answered Vasisualy, — and in general all conveniences.
— But they seem to have carried out corporal punishment here
— Ah, — said Lokhankin heartily, because after all, who knows? Maybe that’s how it should be. Perhaps this is the great homespun truth».

It is obvious that the paradoxical assessment of the brutalized neighbors with the words «wonderful people» from Lokhankin is caused not only by the desire to rent a room. In the context of the novel, the image of Lokhankin emerges as a parody of the actively condemned in the 1920–30s. Tolstoy’s «non-resistance to evil by violence». Apparently, for the authors, this is not just a tribute to the requirements of Soviet reality, but also their own convictions, since Tolstoyism is condemned in the novel not only in the character of a miserable half-educated schoolboy leading a parasitic contemplative lifestyle, but is also opposed by the main character, whose image was created by the authors with much more positive feelings.

At the moment of an uncommon emotional shock for the cold-blooded Ostap — the simultaneous realization of the loss of his beloved girl and a suitcase with a million, the goal of his whole life — he (only once!) scolds himself: «Unmercenary, son of a bitch! Cursed Mennonite, Seventh-day Adventist! Fool! If they’ve already sent the package, I’ll hang myself! These Tolstoyans must be killed! » At the same time, he does not run to «suicide» at all, but on the contrary — to get his millions back as soon as possible, until the suitcase was sent to the address written on it, and continue to live for his own pleasure, in a big way, fulfilling any of his whims and desires.

In the text of the novel, Panikovsky is subjected to the greatest number of assessments by Bender. Despite the fact that these assessments are heard in various situations, they are always abusive, negative, even at the grave of Mikhail Samuelevich. For Ostap, Panikovsky is a goose thief, a rude man, a convention violator, a petty criminal fry, an absurd, mediocre old man, an untalented lunatic, a malingerer, an impostor, a thief and a coward, an immoral man without a passport, a fireman demoted to mere axemen.

However, in the heart of «a descendant of the janissaries who does not know pity either for the elderly or for children», there is no malice; he admits that he was often unfair to Panikovsky. It is, rather, bantering that does not contradict the true state of affairs.

Another thing is the assessments from Panikovsky. Bender, his savior from the angry Arbatovites, he immediately calls a pathetic, insignificant person. The same characterization repeatedly sounds to the Antelopians, old chap Funt, absurdly interspersed with the words «word of honor». Panikovsky’s very expressive speech is entirely assessments and almost always paradoxical:

Bender, you know how much I respect you, but you don’t understand anything! You don’t know what a goose is!

I respect Ostap Ibragimovich very much: he is such a person!.. Even Funt — you know how much I respect Funt — said about Bender that this is sharp-witted. But I tell you, Shura: Funt is an ass! Oh my god, he is such a fool. Just a pathetic, insignificant person! And I don’t mind anything against Bender /…/ You know, Shura, I respect Bender very much, but I must tell you: Bender is an ass! By God, you pathetic, insignificant person!

I’ll tell you straight: Bender is not such a sharp-witted guy… Your Bender is an idiot. Started these stupid searches …

You know, Shura, how much I respect you, but you are an ass.

It seems that the tendency to call names is the only defensive reaction of the old man. Trying to escape from the Balaganov massacre, he utters both a funny and desperate cry: “Don’t approach with this iron! I despise you! You pathetic little person!” When communicating with the same Balaganov, Panikovsky four times reports that he is talking to him as if he was his relative. In the end, the absurdity of this situation, the inept cunning, which, however, is caught by the ingenuous Balaganov, reaches its climax:

I should confess to you, Shura, as to a family member, — would I tell you this secret if I could carry the kettlebells alone? But I am an old, sick gentleman, and the kettlebells are heavy. And I invite you as my family member. I am not Bender. I’m honest!

Another unusual assessment: touching in his toothless desperation, Panikovsky, already inseparable from the actor Zinovy Gerdt, who made him true through his performance, became the first of the characters of Ilf and Petrov to be honored with a monument in Russia.

The paradoxical nature of evaluative characteristics can manifest itself not only in a horizontal context, but also in a vertical, diachronic one. What was unambiguous and understandable at one time can gradually acquire new connotations, meanings, up to the exact opposite. So, for example, at the end of the twentieth century, few people remember what the idiom «golden troop» actually means.

Now educated people percieve Bender’s exclamation “Silence, golden troop!” as the approving humorous evaluation of Ostap’s companions. The phraseological unit «golden troop», which has recently gone out of active use, was still relevant for the time of writing the novel in its true meaning «tramps; social drop-outs» [12. P. 393], i.e. used as a negative value.

Evaluation in the novels is represented not only verbally, but also indirectly, implicitly. For example, creating paradoxical, absurd nominations, such as the writer’s society «Steel Udder», the society «Friends of Cremation», the joint-stock companies «Tin and Bacon», «Labor Cedar», the dining room «Former Friend of the Stomach», the slogan «let’s hit the off-road with a car rally and delinquency» and others. The authors parody, ridicule some of the signs created in the 1920–30s of the 20th century, the “novel” socialist way of living, commitment to loud, but ridiculous names with the corresponding meaning.

Having brought this process to the grotesque, I. Ilf and Eu. Petrov thus provide their own assessment — they laugh themselves out and make the reader laugh at obvious stupidity, formalism, empty activity.

Functions of the Paradoxical Logic  in I. Ilf and Eu. Petrov Characters

As a subject of research, a linguistic personality continues to fascinate researchers, revealing ever new secrets of the human character, the creative laboratory of a writer and his own personality.

In the novels of I. Ilf and E. Petrov, characters often use win-win speech tactics that achieve the result desired by the speech addressant. They are based on subtle calculation and eloquance, in which, among other things, paradoxes are often found. This is one of the most striking characteristics of the characters, especially of the main one. All this is memorable and attractive, «Bender’s methods» have become a household word.

But the reader should understand, be aware of the character’s cunning, consider them not as interlocutors, but see them from the perspective of authors who invite the reader to evaluate the charlatans. The result of such speech tactics is on the surface, in the «external», horizontal level of meaning. The study of the elements of such effective tactics, their step-by-step tracing allows to reveal hidden meanings, the vertical context of the work, better understanding the linguistic personality, the author’s intention.

Meaning speech tactics, Bender’s speech paradoxes can be called manipulative. In addition to linguistics, their study can also be useful in everyday, pragmatic terms, in order to unravel the speech manipulation of a dishonest interlocutor in time and not to become his victim.

At the first meeting with Bender, Vorobyaninov, a middle-aged former dandy and leader of the upper class, quite experienced in life’s collisions, decided to reveal his one and a half thousandth secret to an unknown young man after a few minutes of acquaintance. What influenced this decision? Correctly calculated speech tactics of the great strategist, practically his monologue.

Having intimidated the interlocutor, the son of a Turkish subject understands that he is on the right track. The win is near. The last verbal effort no longer requires irrefutable evidence and examples. Bender «finishes off» Vorobyaninov, «driven to despair by the chatter of a young impudent man» easily and quickly:

— Why, I told you a thousand times that I am not an immigrant … I came from the city of N on business.
— On what business
— Well, on a personal matter.
— And after that you say that you are not an immigrant

Vorobyaninov was by no means an emigrant. But he was forced to agree with this paradox (an emigrant because he came on a personal matter) — it began to seem to him that he would not be able to refute it! Bender’s paradoxical conclusion was the last straw in the matter of «conquering» the leading figure of the upper class… Thus, Bender shows remarkable abilities as a rhetorician and psychologist: having smelled profit, he confuses his interlocutor with his speech pressure, intimidates him, which forces him to discover the true state of affairs. TThe difference in the speech performance of the characters has also played a role — the laconic Vorobyaninov allows himself to be confused by the super-talkative Bender, so he loses his ability to resist. It is no coincidence that the chapter with a description of this particular speech combination, which allows the reader to get the idea about the main character, is called by the authors «The Great Combinator». And an elderly, serious and respectable man, Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, suddenly began to call himself paradoxically a funny half-name, half-nickname Kisa, Kisulya. So the authors show his dependent role under Bender, complaisance of character.

Quick tongue is one of O. Bender’s main weapons. Being essentially a criminal, he does not kill or maim his «victims». He persuades, he proves! «Destroys» a wellbuilt and well-presented system of arguments. Let’s remember that his «jibber jabber» does not work when the interlocutor himself is not a fool to talk, philosophize, has a clear goal, as, for example, in the case of the mechanic Mechnikov.

—Money in the morning — chairs in the afternoon, money in the afternoon — chairs in the evening, money in the evening — chairs the next day in the morning …
— Is it possible — chairs during the day, and money in the evening
— It is. But money up front!

Speech tactics of both Bender and other characters of the enduring novels of Ilf and Petrov, as a rule, hit right on target, especially when their interlocutors are psychologically, consciously or unconsciously, ready to be deceived. For example, Panikovsky did not even have to convince Balaganov that Koreiko’s kettlebells were made of pure gold: both «sons of Lieutenant Schmidt», tortured by the search for money and the incomprehensible actions of the patron, themselves wanted to get profits as soon as possible.

In response to Balaganov’s doubt, «What if they aren’t golden?» Panikovsky merely cites a counter-question: «So what do you think they are?» And that is it! Shura immediately agrees, which would seem paradoxical in a different situation: «Yes, now it is clear to me. Look, please, the old man — and he revealed everything!»

To weigh the information, to double-check, to obtain additional information would mean postponing a possible quick enrichment, which made both «fosterbrothers» instantly believe in Panikovsky’s invention. The paradox (if the kettlebells are not made of gold, then they cannot be made of anything else) is not perceived by the characters as a paradox. Thus, in this situation awareness, the question becomes a persuasive argument, which breaks the common logic, but is quite acceptable for a swindler character.

In another similar case, Bender did not even have to waste words — a gesture was enough: when a charming and talkative young man came to Korobeinikov for furniture warrants of some mythical «daddy», the question of the archivist «Do you have any money?» Ostap merely «readily patted his pocket», and Korobeinikov, smelling the odour of profit, gave him warrants.

Bender is able to influence the interlocutor with only one «killer of an argument» phrase, before which he gives in so much that he loses the ability to think critically, and refute, and act:

Panikovsky, crouching, ran into the field and returned, holding a warm crooked cucumber in his hand. Ostap quickly pulled it out of Panikovsky’s hands, saying:
— Do not make a religion out of food. After that, he ate the cucumber himself.

With Lokhankin, Ostap plays a victorious game of logical paradoxes. Wanting to rent a room to a lonely, intelligent bachelor, Vasisualy did not expect that four people moved into it at once. But he was forced to reconcile himself under the irrefutable argument of Bender, who said that out of the whole company, he was the only one belonging to intellectual class. This fact cannot be refuted; therefore, the terms of the treaty are respected.

«All the Antelopians, with the exception of Kozlevich, settled in the «Voronya Slobidka» with Vasisualy Lokhankin, who was extremely scandalized by this. He even tried to protest, pointing out that he rented a room not to three, but to one, a lonely bachelor belonging to intellectual class. «Mondieu, Vasisualy Andreevich», answered Ostap carelessly, «don’t torture yourself. After all, I’m the only intellectual of the three, so the condition is fulfilled».

The variety and flexibility of Bender’s speech tactics are especially vividly, sparklingly presented almost at the very beginning of the first novel at a meeting of the notorious Union of Sword and Ploughshare. Burlesque, skillfully woven by the hero from allegory, which everyone deciphered in accordance with their desires and predilections, the exaggerated figure of «a giant of thought, the father of Russian democracy, a person close to the emperor», stakes on the secret desire of «safe pair of hands» to return the tsarist regime, creating an environment strict secrecy, playing on universal human values («the noble calling to help starving children»), literally dumbfounded and hypnotized those present.

The remnants of the common sense in cautious owner of the «Quick Pack Company» Dyadyev dissolve in the saving thought: «However, it all depends on what dress up in the garb it will be served withШ. Even cheated, Dyadyev was extremely pleased: «Beautifully composed», he decided, «under such a dress up, you can give money. If you’re lucky, my compliments!! If it does not work out I just do not care. I used to help the children — and that is it».

All this brings the intended effect: Bender got five hundred rubles for his wedding and for other expenses of the concessionaires, and none of those present wondered why the name of the organization that helps starving children had nothing to do with them, no one seemed paradoxical about the convergence of the sword, plowshare and children. The paradoxical speech logic of the great strategist acted as a cover and reassurance for characters who definitely have something to hide.

Once again, very clearly and no less gracefully, the descendant of the janissaries formulates his tactical and strategic calculations in the second novel, before the crew of the «Antelope»:

The most important thing … is to bring confusion to the enemy’s camp. The enemy must lose his mental balance. It’s not that hard to do. After all, people are always afraid of the incomprehensible… Let us introduce more incomprehensiveness. Let the client worry… He must be morally disarmed… A little more, the most nonsense, the last stroke of the brush — and he will finally get ready. Weeping, he will climb into the sideboard and take out a plate with a blue fringe …

Well-thought-out strategies and brilliantly implemented speech tactics create the appearance of a lack of violence against the victim. Bender achieves that the victim comes to the idea of the need to perform this or that action, even to part with the money («here Ippolit Matveevich bent», «Kislyarsky wanted to give more two hundred rubles and never come here again», «the folder is good, there’s no doubt, one can buy» — Koreiko, «can I write a receipt?» — Korobeinikov, «how much money do you need?» — Vasyukintsy, «the policemen paid, delicately asking what was the purpose of collecting five-kopeck coins», «the shy Alkhen approached the departing Bender and gave him a ten-ruble bank note»). The winning Bender coquettishly calls such situations «he wagged his tail for quite a while before I agreed to take».

A hacker of human souls, a flunkey of extraordinary situations, a creator of the necessary dressings under which, as if under some kind of psychological anesthesia, one can painlessly take away money, Bender knows exactly which levers to pull in relation to each specific person and to each command. «I don’t take bad chances, » Ostap formulates the principle underlying his speech tactics. Vorobyaninov «knew from experience that Ostap Bender never speaks in vain. » «Ostap beat for sure, » the authors confirm.

Bender acts as if in exact accordance with the principles formulated by Dale Carnegie [13–15] and other experts in public speaking: any audience can be persuaded, you just need to avoid talking about your own worries, but be eloquent about what worries this audience [16; 17].

Bender’s speech techniques analysis allows us to assert that he is a strong linguistic personality (in accordance with the parameters established by G.G. Infantova [18] and by us [19; 20]). To a large extent, this level is reflected by aphoristic phrases, the paradoxical nature of his assessments and the logic of inferences.


To sum up, it was found that in the language of literary works paradox is used expressly, intentionally, it reflects the linguo-creative thinking of their authors, it is used as a stylistic device for creating the image of a character, as an individualization of his speech.

Paradoxical assessments in the speech of the characters are intended to characterize them in different ways. So, forming the image of the great strategist, they contribute to the integrity creatio, make his figure more prominent, reliable, vital, dynamic. Paradoxical assessments from of Panikovsky — are the only defensive reaction of the weak old man, as well as the expression of his rustic cunning.

The paradoxical nature of assessments in the novels under the study is largely subjective and conditioned by situation awareness, it gives the narrative a humorous coloring, their semantic incompleteness is replenished by the discourse. The range of functions of paradoxical assessments in the language of Ilf and Petrov’s novels is wide and varied — from expressing light banter over a character to sharp and vivid sarcastic descriptions of people and events. Such assessments also parody, ridicule some social situations, types of activities, human vices and shortcomings.

The paradoxical behavioral and verbal reactions of O. Bender are often part of his intentions, a means of influence, mainly manipulative, the purpose of which is the intention to either subjugate another person, or deceive, or intimidate ̶ with the prospect of his own profit as a great strategist.

His paradoxical statements in the speech and those of other characters in the novels by I. Ilf and Eu. Petrov are psychological, characterized by persuasive arguments due to situation awareness, a means to calm down, creating the appearance of a lack of violence against the victim to cover up their own plans. The analysis of O. Bender’s speech techniques allows us to assert that he is a strong linguistic personality.

The paradoxical nature of evaluative characteristics can manifest itself not only in a horizontal context, but also in a vertical, diachronic one.

Evaluation in the novels is present not only verbally, but also indirectly, implicitly, in particular, when creating a number of paradoxical, absurd nominations.

The study of the elements of paradoxes, their step-by-step tracing allows to reveal the hidden meanings, the vertical context of the work, better understanding linguistic personality of the characters and the author’s intention.


About the authors

Elena N. Ryadchikova

Kuban State University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8753-9732

Dr. Sc. (Philology), Professor, Professor of the General and SlavicRussian Linguistics Department, Faculty of Russian Philology

149, Stavropolskaya Street, Krasnodar, Russian Federation, 3500402

Olga A. Kadilina

Kutafin Moscow State Law University; Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9471-6143

Candidate of Philological Sciences, Senior Lecturer of Forein Languages Depaetment

9, Sadovaya-Kudrunskaya Street, Moscow, Russian Federation, 1259933; 6, Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 117198

Valeria T. Vered

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

PhD in Philology, Assistant Professor at the Department of General and Russian Linguistics 6, Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 117198


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