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Literature / The Newest Plutarch

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The Newest Plutarch (Новейший Плутарх), full name: The Newest Plutarch. The Illustrated Biographical Thesaurus of Imagined Famous Personalities of all Times and Nations (Новейший Плутарх. Иллюстрированный биографический словарь воображаемых знаменитых деятелей всех стран и времен) is a Soviet Mockumentary book, written by a group of four Soviet scholar inmates serving terms in the same cell at the Vladimir Central Prison in the 40s-50s. Their names were Daniil Alshiz (only made a single article), Daniil Andreev, Vasiliy Parin and Lev Rakov. The last one had made three copies of the book upon being released, with the printed edition based on one of them (and no, none of them died in prison, although Andreev only survived for just under two years due after release to health problems).

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The book consists of a number of articles describing the lives of supposedly famous people. Some are easily recognizable as real persons with only minimal changes, others are completely made up. There are a number of illustrations, mostly black and white.Note: since no translation to English seems to exist, the rendering of the names might be incorrect.

Tropes:

  • Abduction Is Love: Noorden's biography has it gender reversed.
  • Amoral Attorney: Georgy Krasovich, who exonerated people guilty of the most vile crimes and most certainly not for the money.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Avalokiteshvara-Chkhandogiya Ramadas averted the usual concentration on cuter creatures by defending the rights of parasites.
  • Art Evolution: Inverted with Stanislav Psedombski, who started with extremely realistic pictures and shifted toward cubism toward the end.
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  • Back from the Dead: Mary-Betsi-Ophelia Osborn believed that a person will come back from the dead if a million people believe they will.
  • Cannibal Tribe: Kwak Ma Lung originates from one.
  • Cool Teacher: Puchkov-Proshkin had an interesting view on military education.
  • Cult:
    • Robert Thomas Jones Accelerants.
    • Mary-Betsi-Ophelia Osborn’s Internation Society for the Resurrection of Dead.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Walter Monks’ last movie was a major hit due to him dying on set.
  • Death by Irony:
    • Pierre Janin once his newest train reached orbital velocity.
    • Isaac Izzagrdiner, with his operation (intended for making people healthy) causing gangrene due to unforeseen side effects.
    • Richard Smith was killed by a panther he tamed – not because it acted as a beast, but because it was jealous like a human.
    • Benito Umberti fell to his death while navigating his Gymnastyco villa.
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    • Johann Zhong, with his Does Not Like Shoes policy, died from sepsis caused by a shard of glass in his foot.
  • Death Seeker: Robert Thomas Jones, creator of the Accelerant sect, wrote in his works that it’s a person’s true purpose to leave this plane of existence as soon as possible. When brought to court on charges of encouraging death and suicide, he pointed out he never mentioned the word “death”, “suicide”, nor any calls for doing either.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Isaac Izzagardiner's operation has revealed some unforeseen side effects.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Johann Zhong. A revolt erupted when he attempted to enforce it on others.
  • Far East: Johann Menelik Confucius Zhong, the ruler of Karjakapta.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Walter Monks.invoked
  • Gone Horribly Right: Pierre Janin, with his Tim Taylor Technology attitude, ended up being flung into space along with his latest High Speed Rail model.
  • Good Taming, Evil Taming: Richard Smith's methods aren't elaborated upon, but seem to be Good Taming.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Count Schwartzdorf was big use of Latin, along with Gratuitous French.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Robert Ross' human-ape hybrids.
  • Hybrid Power: The pigerots.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Robert Thomas Jones, with his Death Seeker sect, started receiving a lot of criticism toward the age of sixty for refusing to follow his own doctrine.
  • Identical Panel Gag: Fyodor Agathonov's paintings.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: John-Lincoln Baird has bred a species of superfast pigeon/parrot hybrid. Somewhat averted: they are explicitly stated to need special gear for scaring off predators and carry food for long journeys.
  • Just the First Citizen: Johann Zhong.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Baird's pigerots can deliver spoken messages, but a drug had to be invented to stop them from repeating old messages to new clients.
  • Mad Artist: Kikumaro, in order to know how a broken-hearted women behaves, drove a girl to suicide.
  • Magnetic Weapons: Porphyry Yasherkin had plan of these… without having the slightest bit of idea about the engineering required.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Benito Umberti's Gimnastyco style invokes it deliberately. The whole idea is making a house that makes you stronger by being an obstacle course.
  • May–December Romance: Noorden, a 75 year old man in a wheelchair, was abducted by a 20 year old girl.
  • The Medic: Menander Parasangit.
  • The Missionary: Reverend Stokes and Harry Browning, from Kwak Ma Lung’s biography.
  • Mockumentary: The basic style of the book.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Izzagardiner's obsession was increasing the number of a man's teeth for health reasons.
  • Nerd: Go Nan Jen, a Chinese official who believed that the proper way to defeat an enemy is moving in a way that resembles the hieroglyphs for war, weapons, victory etc.
  • Never Say "Die": Robert Thomas Jones, when accused of promoting suicide, was cleared in court by virtue of this trope.
  • No Stunt Double: Walter Monks.invoked
  • Not in Front of the Parrot: Baird's pigerots are used to deliver spoken messages. However, there was a problem with them repeating old messages until a pill was made to erase old recording from their minds.
  • One-Gender Race: Robert Ross had managed to create a human-ape hybrid, but it only allowed for male specimens, and sterile ones to boot.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Isaac Izzagardiner didn’t find anyone who would agree to undergo the procedure he devised.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Due to the controversy around Ligeiro's experiments, he joined a polar expedition.
  • Shout-Out: Mikhail Philippov’s works have titles referring to numerous Russian classics, such as Eugene Mologin, and Obrezov.
  • Shown Their Work: The authors were professors of history, and one a physiologist, and it shows.
  • Splash of Color: The "Ligeiro Albina" illustrations.
  • Swallowed Whole: Richard Smith's tricks included him being swallowed and then regurgitated by a boa.
  • Tim Taylor Technology: Pierre Janin's trains tended to fall victim to Gone Horribly Wrong due to this trope… until one has Gone Horribly Right.
  • Thumbtack on the Chair: According to Osipko Khripunov's biography, Ivan the Terrible, when a senior nobleman once complained that he's supposed to sit by the Czar's side, told him to do just that... while putting a needle in the seat. Khripunov has then gained the Czar's favor by asking to sit on that chair despite the needle.
  • Warrior Poet: Puchkov-Proshkin wasn't much of warrior, due to working in the education department, but he was certainly a popular writer.
  • White Like Me: Esteban Ligeiro's "Ligeiro Albino", a chemical for turning black people white. First, there was a lot of controversy, then it turned out there are side effects… then it turned out to be temporary.
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