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Literature / The History Of A Town

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The History of a Town is a satirical chronicle by Shedrin, written in 1868-69 and published in 1870. It related the story of a certain territory with a center in the town of Glupov. It is ruled by mayors, appointed and dismissed by a greater Russian state, the part of which the Glupov territory is implied to be (that state frequently remains anonymous though at times some historical figures are named and never does much more than appoint and dismiss the mayors). The thing is, most mayors are walking disasters for Glupov. They are cruel, often aimlessly, they form a whole row of mayors Pains. Many of the mayors are grotesque chcracters modeled after certain Russian emperors.


Somehow this chronicle was published without delay.


  • Big Guy: Baklan, the sixth mayor, whose height was 235 centimeters. He fittingly died because of that as he was broken in halves by a hurricane.
  • Death by Gluttony: That's how the eleventh mayor named Ferdyshenko died. No wonder as he liked baked ham and goose with cabbage.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Lamvrokakis, an escaped Greek and the fifth mayor. He was a relatively kind ruler, so no Just Desserts for him.
  • Fearless Fool: Urus-Kugush-Kibaldiev who was extremely courageous and once took Glupov by storm (being its mayor he did it just for the evulz). The unnamed central (Russian) authority did not approve of this escapade and simply dismissed him.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Alyonka, the wife of Mitka, who attracts the attention of the Mayor Ferdyshenko. He is much older than Alyonka but has power to sent Mitka to Siberia. Subsequently the girl become his favourite. It does not end well.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Many of the mayors are physiologically regular humans but several are something else.
    • Brudasty had a music box in his head, in which only two phrases are recorded: "I won't tolerate" and "I will devastate". For some time he still rules Glupov unperturbed, until the music box is broken.
    • The head of the mayor Prysh (meaning The Pimple) is actually stuffed by truffles. Local marshall of the nobility (the leader of the caste of nobles) incidentally discovers this and eats the head.
  • Just Desserts: Ferapontov, the second in the list of the mayors, was torn apart by the wild dogs in the woods. For him it is this trope as he is an obvious villain. He enjoyed public floggings so much that he never allowed to execute them in his absense.
  • Land of One City: Played with. In the territory ruled by the governors only the city of Glupov exists. The Russian state outside Glupov is implied to exist as it sends mayors to Glupov. However it does not show itself otherwise though some characters and events from wider Russian history are mentioned. .
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  • Long List: The list of 22 mayors with a brief story. Only the selected few are treated in a particular chapter though.
  • Mayor Pain: Played not Up to Eleven but up to one hundred eleven. The best mayors of Glupov were kindly but fabulously stupid rulers (The Quimbies). Most of them were totally incompetent sadists (The Wilkinses, and of the very worst kind).
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Shedrin is very blunt. The name of the town of Glupov(Глупов) is derived from an adjective Gloopy (глупый) which means simply "silly", "stupid", "foolish". People might also remember it from nadsat.
    • Also the names of most governors are meaningful.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In this case no tsars were harmed. That is some tsars were models for several mayors, while others tsars were parodied once.
  • One-Word Vocabulary: Brudasty has only two expressions: I won't tolerate and I'll devastate. These are the words recorded on the music box in his head.
  • Power Floats: For marquis Sanglot who was able to levitate. Once he nearly flew away but got hooked by the church spire. Soon he was dismissed.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Lethally inverted in the case of Ivanov, the 17th mayor. He was very small in stature so he could not fit lengthy acts of legislation (within his body). In the end he burst trying to comprehend one more act of Senate.
  • Smurfette Principle: Played with. One chapter (out of about a dozen of them) is relating the story of six consecutive female mayors ruling after the collapse of Brudasty who replaced one another with caleidoscopic speed. Of course female rulers were six not one. Still they governed in the row and were treated in a sole chapter, outside of which all mayors were male. It is an obvious caricature of the Russian XVIII century when five female empresses (including Catherine the Great) ruled nearly consecutively.
  • Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: Played with regarding Borodavkin. He always slept with [b]one[/b] eye open and his wife of 25 years was still afraid of this ever-wake eye.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: That's how the chronicle ends. Ugrum-Burcheev destroys the city to build it on the new place. Which results in the collapse of the local civilisation.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: This is the case in Glupov. Mayors have all the power at the territory. E.g. Borodavkin waged in the province so-called wars "for Enlightment".


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