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The Picture is a 1979 novel by the Russian Soviet writer Daniil Granin. Its original title is Картина (Kartina).

The book's protagonist, Sergey Losev, is a mayor of the small provincial town, Lykov, in the Soviet 70's. While on business trip in Moscow he visits an art exposition where he by pure chance through a Double Take notices a landscape named "By the River" which reminds him of a certain view in Lykov. Later it turns out that an artist, Astakhov, indeed once lived in the town and painted that landscape with a house, willow and Zhmurkin back-water at that very place. After the exposition is over Losev visits the widow of the now deceased painter and convinces her to pass the picture over to the town of Lykov. She caves in and grants it for free although he offered her a sum well below its actual value. Losev then brings the painting to the town and it is placed in the school biology classroom because the view from its window is very similar to the landscape.

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However very soon it turns out that the house depicted in the landscape is going to be demolished and a certian industrial installment (a production uint of the computer-manufacturing firm) is planned to be erected on its place. Losev, becoming aware that his rather non-descript Lykov has a unique chance to become famous because of a combination of the picture and the landscape it shows including the house, starts to intrigue in bureaucratic spheres to manoeuver the upper echelons into dropping the plans to demolish the old architectural monument transferring the filial to the other location in Lykov. His manipulations at times find support with several local activists (while the bulk of Lykov's population is pretty apathetic), at times those activists do not see through his cunning ploys and resent him believing that he is actually for demolishing of the ancient building. The fate of the building and the nearby willow also in the painting remains suspended.

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Tropes

  • The '30s: In flashbacks. The time of fear and terror.
  • The '70s: Soviet style in the small provincial town. Not very sordid in the terms of free love. Polyester is not mentioned either
  • Advice Backfire: Losev urges Roginsky to write an office memo about how the building should definitely be preserved. Roginsky obeys however later he also sends a letter in the paper which Losev would by no means want him to do as he prefers to work within the bureacracy and does not want to attract publicity. If Losev did not convince him to write a memo in strong expressions Roginsky would not send a letter. In the end that letter serves as one of the factors helping to secure the historic house however the standing of Losev is worsened by the newspaper publication as he comes out as a somewhat disloyal person to Uvarov.
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  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Invoked by Tuchkova who prefers Losev to Roginsky because the latter is a good guy and too predictable to her.
  • Alliterative Name: Tatyana Tuchkova.
    • Nikolai Nikitich the militia chief of Lykov.
    • Also Losev whose name and patronymic are Sergey Stepanovich and whose intials S.S. are at times mentioned.
    • Even more interestingly, Losev is a mayor of Lykov.
  • All Take and No Give: That's how Losev sometimes thinks about his relation with Arkady Matveevich, Losev being a taker. The latter is not upset though.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Rejected In-universe. It is set in the world of bureaucrats where it is implied that a healthy share of ambition not going overboard is actually necessary to make a good official.
    • The brilliant Arkady Matveevich is looked down upon after he rejects several promotions.
    • Uvarov expects Losev to be ambitious.
    • In the end Losev is replaced by Morshikhin rather than Zhuravlyov because the latter is seen as lacking of ambition. It is implied that Morshikhin is an extreme opportunist also he on the decisive day acts somewhat disloyal to Losev, his chief. Still he is ambitious and effecient, perhaps the latter partly because of the former.
  • The Antagonist: Peter Pashkov although he is a rather peripherical character.
    • Also at times Polivanov even though he and Losev actually pursue the same goal.
  • Anti-Hero: Polivanov in the present days is that. Earlier in the 30's he was at best an antivillain or even a straight villain.
  • Anti-Villain: The younger Polivanov in the 30's is most probably that although he definitely seems a straight villain to Astakhov.
  • Apathetic Citizens: The people of Lykov apart from the bunch of the activists do not care whether the bilding will be demolished or not later it changes with the death of Polivanov
  • Arrested for Heroism: Constantin is essentially this once. Good that the foreman of the demolition brigade is arrested too so the brigade cannot proceed with sawing off the willow and destroying the building.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Losev who is very savvy in his actions within the bureaucracy.
    • Also Uvarov is said to be that but it is more of an informed ability.
  • Badass Grandpa: Polivanov big time.
  • Batman Gambit: Losev uses it in his bureaucratic kungfu. Once when a house is about to be demolished, Constanitin Anisimov tries to prevent it even hitting a much stronger demolition man and protecting the willow (to be sawed off before the demolition of the building). He claims the mayor Losev's support for his actions. Later when Losev arrives and does not confirm what Anisimov has said the fight starts again. The demolition man hits Constantin and while the militia chief wants to stop the fight the mayor prevents him from doing it. So the demolition man punches Constantin once more and knocks him off. Then Losev orders to arrest them both and both are sentenced to 15 days in jail as both are offenders now (Constantin for the obstruction of the work of the demolition brigade of which he was guilty once he started the brawl). Soon the demolition man is released on condition to leave Lykov immediately, Constantin is freed too. The ruse wins several days for a cause, that is, until another brigade will be sent in. Somehow Constantin is not too content and might not even see the game of Losev. Still the willow and the house are saved for the day.
  • Beautiful All Along: In the beginning not much is said much about the appearance of Tuchkova apart from her big glasses. She is rather deemed to be plain, However once the romance between her and Losev starts he suddenly notices the tope.
  • Benevolent Boss: Uvarov is ultimately this for Losev.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Decisively averted as per the trope-savvy Losev who as a mayor receives many requests and demands. He always seeks to first satisfy the needs of the people who are able to make a fuss. While the ones who are too gentle to start a row can wait for obvoious reason. Thus people less deserving of goods can receive them before more deserving.
    • Lyubov' Vadimovna in particular is the quiet one like most the intellectuals as per Losev. They can only send you death glares in reproach but rarely say anything even less make a scandal.
    • In the Soviet Union is the state-dominated economy most denizens of Lykov could not receive many things outside the distributive system of the state. They could not go out and buy many things which were only available from the state.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Olga Serafimovna was the one in the younger days as it is clear from her nudes by Astakhov. Now she is in her seventies but it can be felt that she was quite a looker.
  • Big Guy: The chief of Lykov's militia, Nikolai Nikitich.
    • Also Zubr/Bizon, the lover of Losev's wife is head above him and much heavier. Losev still manages to beat him when catching his wife with him in flagranti.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The house is preserved although the willow which the demolition men started to saw off later pertished.
    • Losev quit the post of mayor and left for destination unknown. He is replaced by the opportunistic albiet competent Morshikhin.
    • Tuchkova also leaves for Belarus.
  • Bookends: The novel starts with Losev in Moscow acquiring a painting by Astakshov for free from his widow in the presence of Badin, an art expert. In the ending chapter Badin from whose POV it is told arrives to Lykov and sees the painting in the museum organised in the town. Badin never appears in the novel inbetween its very beginning and end.
  • Brains and Brawn: Losev and Nikolai Nikitich are that. It is lampshaded in-universe as it is said that Nikolai Nikitich is willing to have a leader to direct him in the use of his robust force. Not that Losev himself is especially physically weak.
  • Break the Cutie: Constantin Anisimov who is beaten up and arrested in one episode.
  • Break the Haughty: The novel has an element of this regarding Losev. Not that he is easliy broken.
  • Butt-Monkey: Constantin Anisimov in the chapter where he is beaten up by the demolition gang leader. Losev uses him in his ploy to put the brigade about to saw off the willow and destroy the house out of game.
  • Call-Back: An interesting case of probably the callfoward: the lover of Losev's wife is very insistently referred to as "zubr" (or European bizon) in this 1979 novel. Later in 1987 Granin wrote an acclaimed novel "The Bizon" (also "Zubr" in Russian). Might be this trope or not as the bizon in this novel is a sleazy adulterer while in the later novel the titular character is a very acclaimed scientist. Still the repeated use of the word "bizon" is very tempting for such conclusions.
  • Character Development: Losev experiences that in the course of novel.
  • The Chessmaster: Losev considers himself that. He ultimately succeeds but not without help from other characters who are achieving the same goal through other means and are at times hostile to him.
    • Also Uvarov is considered the one but for him it could be an Informed Ability.
    • Arkady Matveevich is a great theorist in the bureaucratic chess but not a practicing player.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Notably averted. All officials in this book never use their status for personal enrichment for bribes. It is not implied even for Pashkov who is merely rude with people and bullies them.
  • Corrupt Church: Ilya Samsonovich invoked that trope, later ridicules Losev who invokes it too.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Arkady Matveevic reproduces this trope. While an intellectual and a genre-savvy expert on bureaucracy manoeuvers he doesn't own any considerable property and always declines promotions (thus a moron for some). However it turns out that he is a war hero decorated with medals he is confused to wear because it is hard even for him to believe that such an ostensibly civilian person was once a hero. Also he is anyway a badass as an expert.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Constantin Anisimov receives exactly this when he tries to prevent the willow from being sawed off and strecthes his hands apart.
  • Crushing Handshake: Pashkov has the one and intimidates Losev with it until the later develops his hand muscles to resist him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: For the the whole of 30's Soviet Russia, as perceived in 70's, seen though flashbacks and letters.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Anisimov to the militia chief Nikolai Nikitich in response to his "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Death Glare: The manager of the Lykov local library Lyubov' Vadimovna gives Losev the one while washing her clothes in the river. That's because he cannot secure her a salary rise which she desperately needs. Losev later goes on for some time with internal monologue reasoning about the politics behind satisfying the requests of some people and ignoring those of the others.
  • Declining Promotion: Losev does it several times when Figurovsky offers him high positions.
    • Permanent trope for Arkady Matveevich. People start to respect him less despite his wit. Because in the bureaucratic world the trope Ambition Is Evil is rejected.
  • Determinator: Polivanov big time.
    • Losev at times as when he convinces Olga Serafimovna to grant the picure to Lykov for the smaller sum than it is worth. He is so determined in his persuasion that in the end she gives it for free.
    • Even more so when he stops the demolition of the building in the last minute.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Roginsky does not get his fellow teacher Tuchkova who prefers the mayor Losev. In the decisive confrontation she says Roginsky that he should have no hope they can be together. Although it is implied that in the end Losev and Tuchkova are not together either as Tuchkova has reportedly left for Belarus.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: For Polivanov.
  • Double-Meaning Title: One can guess that with a semantically rich word (картина/picture both in Russian and Enhglish) it should be this trope. First it is about the painting itself, then about the corresponding lansdscape (the house, the willow, the Zhmurkin back-water) which can be seen in the town. Also the picture of the Lykov society is presented here.
  • Double Standard: Losev catches his wife in flagranti and then their marriage slowly collapses. However already after the account of their separation it is briefly mentions that he too had two flighty affairs. He in vokes this trope, assuming that he might be Not So Different from his wife.
  • Double Take: The key trope for this novel as this is exactly how Losev finds the picture at the exposition in Moscow. He is mostly apathetic, visiting the venue because it is accepted that an official while on mission in the capital city should "pick up some culture". Also it is raining outside. Losev walks the gallery not paying much attention to the items then something catches his interest but he automatically proceeds further. Several instants later he returns and sees the picture featuring the landscape which is all-too-known for him.
  • Dragon: Peter Pashkov for Uvarov althought the latter is not a Big Bad.
  • The Dreaded: Formerly Polivanov for many because he was a formidable figure even in the old ager until he became terminally ill. He in his current state lampshades it himself, making a guess that some ordinary people he casually met and might have mistreated or not could consider him this trope while he never guessed at the time.
    • Pashkov for Losev at some stage. Losev even appoints Pashkov his aide out of sheer fear. He is specifically afraid of his firm, nearly bonecrushing handshake. Then he trains his hand during the vacations so that he shakes the hand of Pashkov even stronger and is no more afraid of him. He shouts at him and soon dismisses him. Pashkov still manages to make a career elsewhere and becomes an aide to Uvarov. Pashkov is aware of that and latter ridicules Losev for his training of his hand muscles.
  • Driven to Suicide: Georgy Pashkov, the father of Peter Pashkov in 30's when he fell from grace and was demoted to the lower position (which probably meant that he was going to be arrested soon and sent to Gulag). Might be a Freudian Excuse for his son Peter, the antagonist of this novel.
  • Dry Crusader: Nikolai Nikolaich, the militia chief in Lykov. The mayor himself is a moderate drinker and believes that cultural drinking in pubs (rather than the incultural one outdoors) should be allowed and even supported as much lesser evil.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Invoked for Constantin in the episode where he defends the willow from being sawed off. A woman says that he looks like a girl because of his long hair and bracelets on the hands. It is a small town in the conservative 70's Soviet environment.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Polivanov big time. He secures the preservation of the historical monument with his death.
  • Epistolary Novel: Played with as several chapters are made by letters sent by Alexey Astakhov in France to Lisa Kislykh, the girl whom he loved more than any other and painted once. Astakhov wrote them in 1936 during his stay in Lykov, they give insight into the story of creation of the titular landscape.
    • The last letter near the ending is the one written by Lisa herself in 1947 in response to the earlier ones.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Konstantin to Losev when the mayor upon arrival does not confirm that he is on his side when Konstantin tries to save the willow from being sawed off. Actually Losev uses Constantin as a bait in his ploy designed to sent the demolition brigade away from the town.
  • Flashback The principal plot is set in the 70's. The novel also includes fairly expansive flashbacks to the 30's. The are presented in the form of letters from Astakhov to Lisa Kislykh, the diary of the father of Losev and his childhood memories.
  • For the Evulz: An apparent motivation for the Pashkov's insistence to wreck the historic house. It does not help for the cause of its preservation that he resents his native town even though he is depiced as a bully rather than a bullied during his childhood.
  • Freudian Excuse: For Peter Pashkov whose father Georgy committed suicide back in 30's. Then he becomes a bully and and a nemesis of Losev.
    • However Losev himself suffered when his father left his mother and soon died. He still grows up to become a person of integrity.
  • The Generic Guy: Roginsky. At least for Tuchkova.
  • Good Bad Girl: Tuchkova is rather sexually experienced for a teacher in the big glasses. Turns out she was already married for a year in the institute and had other relations as well. She also calls things related to sex by their straight, vulgar names (never directly quoted in the novel, of course).
  • Gratuitous English: For Pashkov who coming from the not very sophisticated background made a career and now calls his chief Uvarov in English "my chief", also casually uses other English words like "drink, very much, bye-bye". That's because his wife is a teacher of the English language and he picks up from her.
  • The Grim Reaper: When Polivanov, terminally ill, first appears, it is said that at times the Death which lives in his body and destroys it from within is watching through his eyes, not Polivanov himself. Not always but definitely in some moments.
  • Hell Seeker: Ilya Samsonovich, a clergyman whom Losev and Tuchkova once meet in church, devised a very odd theology. He believes that the righteous men should be sent to hell to be tormented in the afterlife. That would make their good deed actually worthwhile. In the standard case it should be implied that they remain righteous only to enter the heaven and to live in eternal bliss. If Ilya Samsonovich's ideas are followed by God, the righteous men will do good out of internal goodness only despite their dismal fate in the afterlife. Thus he seeks hell for many others - righteous persons.
  • The Hero: Losev while flawed is not flawed enough to be considered an Anti-Hero. He is still a straight hero.
  • Heroic RRoD: For Polivanov who while terminally ill one day sets out to the house about to be demolished. He makes most of the way on foot even though he is clearly not in condition for the long walk. He is dead within 150 meters from the site. This public death cements the cause of the preservation of the building.
  • Hidden Depths Losev has two assistants, Morshikhin and Zhuravlyov. The former is an opportunistic but effecient careerist. The latter is plain and obedient and seemingly lacks ambition. Then in one conversation Zhuravlyov reveals that he actually has his own understanding of all things and sees people through including his boss Losev. Then Losev invokes this trope in his thoughts. In the end, of course, Morshikhin still replaces Losev as the mayor of Lykov.
    • Also Shiryaev, the director of the bakery who failed to repair its equipment timely and the enterprise broke down. Losev cries at him and he dies of heart attack. Turns out he was at war and decorated with two medals.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Subverted: All characters are raised atheists so of course Granin's work does not have any implications inherent for this trope in the cultures where most people are believers. His characters are simply atheists, also they at times want to find God.
  • Iron Curtain: Played straight in the letters from 30's and 40's. Lisa Kislykh and Astakhov can never meet as she is in France and he is in the Stalinist Soviet Union.
    • Played with in 70's as Uvarov as a priviledged official uses a pocket computer bought during his stay in the USA.
    • Later Badin relates about his trip to Toledo, Spain where he saw El Greco's View of Toledo. He liked the picture much more than an actual view of Toledo.
  • Informed Ability: The bureaucratic talent of Uvarov, the official belonging to the upper than Luykov echelon in the hierarchy. The author repeatedly tells how brilliant he is while it is never shown through his actions. He would be as good being depicted as simply an effecient but not great bureaucrat. Losev outmanoeuvers him in the end. Not without some help from his frenemies.
  • Insane Troll Logic: That of Ilya Samsonovich who wants the righteous men to end up in hell after death. In that way one is sure that their pious actions do not result from self-interest. Tatyana Tuchkova finds his ideas interesting but wrong.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Pashkov is an assistant to Uvarov who is not an antagonist. However Pashkov is the one and Losev has to confront him trying to save the ancient building.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Olga Serafimovna, the widow of Astakhov, the artist who painted the titular landscape. Losev sees the nudes of her made by her late husband: For Figurovsky who is named only by his surname. His name and patronymic are never mentioned. Curiously other Mentor Figure for Losev, Arkady Matveevich does not have a surname.
  • Knight In Sour Armor. Losev is probably that though at times he definitely acts as the Determinator
  • Last-Name Basis: For Figurovsky who while an episodic character is a high-ranking official so Losev needed to address him by name and patronymic in their communication. However in the novel he is only Figurovsky.
  • Lawful Neutral: Uvarov who is extremely pragmatic and goal-oriented. He does not see any worth in art. But he is not evil at all.
  • Love Triangle: Tuchkova, Losev and Roginsky.
  • MacGuffin: Subverted with both the titular landscape and the building because both are indeed valuable objects.
  • MacGuffin Title: Played with. The novel is named after the artifact, the picture which satisfies the definition of this trope. However the picture is indeed significant so it cannot be regarded as MacGuffin in the strict sense.
  • Mayor Pain: Toitally averted with Losev who provides the denizens of Lykov with everything they need because in the central-planned economy everything is distributed by state. He tries to obtain for them as much goods as he can.
  • Meaningful Name: Losev which is derived from Los' (Лось) which means elk or moose (probably the elk as the novel is set in the Old World). The main character is indeed a strong figure.
    • The Big Guy Nikolai Nikitich has both name and patronymic (Nikitich is derived from the name Nikita) derived from the Greek work "Nike" meaning "the victory". Twice a victor, then. Still this Dry Crusader's efforts will most probably remain vain.
    • Figurovsky, the mentor of Losev, too. Of course his name is derived from the Russian equivalent of the word "figure" and implies that he is quite a figure, a man of certain stature.
    • Tuchkova shares her surname with the famous family of the early-XIX military. Several siblings of it were accalimed as the heroes of the Russo-French 1812 war.
    • Uvarov was notably a minister of Education under the tsar Nicholas I. He was the author of the triad "Orthodoxy, Autcracy, and Nationality" which became a catchphrase of the tsarist conservatism.
    • of course averted with Badin whose name has nothing to do with the Enhglish adjective "bad".
  • Meganekko: Tatyana Tuchkova, the teacher in the school in Lykov, must be this. She wears very big glasses and turns out to be pretty.
  • Mentor Archetype: Two of them for Losev:
    • Figurovsky is a high-ranking bureaucrat who once notices him in the course of the inspection in the town and later mentors him thoughout his life.
    • The intellectual Arkady Matveevich after the death of Figurovsky, which is lampshaded in the novel. Arkady Matveevich must be much less of that for Losev as the latter is alreay quite mature however being very trope and genre-savvy in the bureaucratic hubris he can teach him plenty of things.
  • Morality Pet: zigzagged with Tuchkova for Losev. While Tuchkova is a woman of integrity who is all for the preservation of the historic buildinbg and always tries to influence the mayor, later her lover, in that direction, she is not the crucial influence on him. Losev is powerful but not evil at all and eager to save the house himself. Still she supports his determination.
  • My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: A regularly invoked trope as this is a novel about the bureaucracy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Losev to Roginsky when the latter sends a letter to the influential newspaper. It helps to seva the house but endangers his position within the bureaucracy.
  • Not So Different: Losev is drinking with his mentor Arkady Matveevich when another bureaucrat, Sechikhin, approaches them and, treating Arkady Matveevich with sheer condescendance, asks him when his article will be ready. Turns out than Arkady Matveevich, the intellectual, writes materials for various less refined officials for money, providing them with high concepts. Losev calls out Sechikhin but later realises that he actually exploits the intellect of Arkady Matveevich too. Of course he always treats him with utter respect in their conversations. However he remembers the saying of the ancient Chinese that "reverence comes with the loss of justice". Thus he might also use Arkady Matveevich like Sechikhin and reproduces this trope. Actually Arkady Matveevich never objects to that.
    • Bizon, the lover of Losev's wife also mentions this trope to him.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: An inversion of the trope. As the filial has to be built and the house on the picture is to be demolished Lykov tries to prevent the wrecking by purely bureaucractic manoeuvers. Thus this trope is not bad in this case. Losev's rivals in the novel are not obstructive in the key matter as they actually try to push their dubious deed forward.
    • Especially in ther episode when Pashkov tries to push forward the demolition of the building in the morning of the decisive day referring to the directive of Uvarov when Losev unexpectedly returns from his vacation trip. Losev obstructs this operation on purely bureaucratic pretexts. He uses My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours to stop the wreckage short before it begins. Needs to be pointed out that Losev is in town and a mayor of the town while Pashkov although an aide to the higheer-ranking Uvarov is directing the operation on the phone. Therefore Losev on the spot can overrule the orders Pashkov gives on the behalf of Uvarov on various technicalities.
  • Older Than They Look: Lisa Kislykh who in 1947 celebrates her 50th anniversary in Paris confesses in the letter to Astakhov that she is actually several years older than that. Of course as she is a former beauty no-one would guess. Astakhov remaines in the Soviet Union behind the Iron Curtain and cannot spill this information to anyone in France so Ms Kislykh's secret is safe with him.
  • Only One Name: Not quite so but Arkady Matveevich does not have surname mentioned unlike everyone else but only a name and a patronymic. Thus no family/clan/whatever identifier as in the description of the trope. This addressing is very respectful much more so than a sole surname still he does not receive a surname at all.
  • Parental Substitute: Two of themn for Losev: first Figurovsky then Arkady Matveevich. His father dies when he was still young.
  • Pet the Dog: Losev regularly thinks of doing this for the manager of the Lykov local library Lyubov' Vadimovna who once asks him for a salary increase which in the Soviet system cannot be effected by the mayor of Lykov but only through the decision in the upper bureaucratic echelons outside the town. He cannot go through with it as in the decisive moment he always ask for something else and there is so much he can ask for his town. Also the increase of the salary for the manager of the library is a greater burden that a load of sheet iron which he also desparately needs.
    • In the end he gets the salary increase for Lyubov' Vadimovna however it turns out that she asked it for her mother who was terminally ill while the manager could not afford a nurse to look after her. Now her mother is already dead and the disinterested intellectual Lyubov' Vadimovna rejects the increase as she does not need it for herself.
  • Pretty Boy: Constantin Anisimov who is slender and has long hair. Once he is likened to a girl by one of the citizens.
  • The Protagonist: Losev from whose POV are narrated all events except for the last chapter told from the POV of Badin where it remains unclear what happened to him.
  • Put on a Bus: Both Losev and his protector Figurovsky at one stage when they fall from grace with the powerful forces within the bureaucratic apparatus. Losev is sent to the North, the much older Figurovsky - to the Southern republic. Later Losev returns as a more mature person.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Losev has to work with this. Polivanov is a dying old man with whom they also later have a breakdown, Anisimov is a 20-year-old youth who is also unemployed, Tuchkova is a mere school teacher (a shabby intellectual, respected but still somewhat looked down upon in the social system of Lykov), Roginsky is another school teacher and The Generic Guy for Tuchkova. Of couse in some respect they are la creme de la creme of the town because they are the ones most interested in the intellectual matters. Still all of them are misfits to some extent and anyhow two main allies of Losev are the terminally ill old man and a Dude Looks Like a Lady.
  • Really Gets Around: Losev used to be like that in his younger years but not after he started to make a career. Now he is that only during the vacation.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivered by a much bigger and stronger militia chief Nikolai Nikitich to the lean youngster Konstntin Anisimov. The latter reacts in the Deadpan Snarker mode so the chief is very tempted to beat him up.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Both Losev and Uvarov as well as Oreshnikov who is the upper echelon in the hierarchy to Uvarov like Uvarov to Losev. They are all entirely reasonable persons.
    • Subverted by Polivanov in his younger years when he was a bully reveling in his power.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Losev's assistants Morshikhin and Zhuravlyov.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Played very straight with Pashkov who indeed was a bully for the local kids in Lykov and then as an adult makes a career not without some initial assistance from Losev. He becomes an aid for his superior Uvarov. Thus he turns into the Dragon for Uvarov (who is not a Big Bad though) and probably an antagonist.
  • Smug Snake: Peter Pashkov who with complete certainty says that the historic house Losev is trying to protect lacks any value. In the end Losev defeats him.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: Names Losev, Tuchkova, Pashkov, Uvarov, Zhmurkin are all very ordinary-sounding in Russian. Morshikhin and Zhuravlyov less plain but still nothing posh.
    • Polivanov and Anisimov less so, these well-intentioned extremists are clearly above the millieu.
    • Of course averted by Figurovsky who was a high-profile figure compared to everyone else and is interred on a central cemetry in Moscow (a very prestigious deal in the Soviet Russia).
  • Shout-Out: Many historical figues are mentioned. Tuchkova for one recites an erotic poem of Bunin while in bed with Losev.
  • Socialist Realism: That's what a much younger Polivanov in 30's demanded from the painter Astakhov. The latter had as per Polivanov to picture things in his paintings in the correct way. Red flags, workers eager to build the communism etc. Astakhov of course was not keen on the trope at all, he was a modernist.
  • Spiritual Successor. Losev believes he is the one to Zhmurin, the mayor of Lykov in the Tsarist times. Zhmurin tried to improve the urban conditions in Lykov and although he is semi-forgotten, certains denizens (Polivanov and Anisimov) still remember some of his deeds for the town. The legacy of Zhmurin among other things inspires Losev to try and save the building presented on the titular landscape.
    • Zhmurkina zavod' (Zhmurkin back-water), the part of the local river also depicted on the painting alongside the house and the willow is named after Zhmurin.
  • The Strategist: Arkady Matveevich who devises for Losev the plan to induce Uvarov to agree with the displacement of the future filial and thus to preserve the historic house. It does not quite work, of course. Losev does not say exactly the things Arkady Matveevich advised him to say though he generally adheres to the pattern, recommended by the strategist. Then in the end of their meeting Uvarov offers to Losev to become his assistant - an official one unlike Pashkov who is close to him but apparently does not have a formal post. Losev agrees and temporarily drops the idea of the resistance to the demolition of the house in question as if bribed by the preomotion offered to him. He avoids meeting Arkady Matveevich who waits for him outside the building after the audience with Uvarov.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Most of the novel is told from the POV of Losev, the mayor of Lykov. The epilogue is told from the POV of Badin, an art expert who is present at the visit of Losev with Olga Serafimovna in her appartiment in the beginning of the story but never appears after that until the epilogue.
  • Tranquil Fury: Lyubov' Vadimovna to Losev as he cannot provide her with the salary increase.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Subverted as Losev and in the end of the novel the art expert Badin "understand" the greatness of picture "By the River" when they examine it long enough.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: Subverted. Although Losev is quite powerful in his town Lykov he is definitely not the one. He is a subordinate of Uvarov and is generally bound to work within the hierarchy thwarting its decisions within its framework. He is a man of system.
    • Totally averted as Losev on his own cannot even increase the salary of Lyubov' Vadimovna the manager of the Lykov library who requested that.
  • Up to Eleven: Polivanov asks Roginsky to write an office memo about the building to be saved and be as rcategorical as possible about its value. Roginsky is considered a competent person in this matter and his reasons will be considered so Losev reckons to use his memo in the bureaucratic kungfu about the building as a weighty argument. A usually cautious Losev urges Roginsky to use the strongest expressions.
  • Vacation Episode: The chapter when Losev and Tuchkova indeed have vacation together for a weekend and become lovers. It is still marred when Losev meets the lover of his former wife in the restaurant.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Or, at least the anti-villanous breakdown for the terminally ill Polivanov, when he is called out by Losev for his sordid past. He makes several seedy confession but squarely justifies every his ction. After that scene both Constantin Anisimov and Tatyana Tuchkova abandon him in disdain.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In this case it is rather What Happened to the Moose as it is not known what happened to Losev. Though one denizen of Lykov is sure that he'll return because the time will demand a man like that.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Overused trope in this novel as Losev never ceases to think about this sad but old fact. He also tries to save the lanscape depicted in the titular picture exactly to remain in the eternity because of that.
  • We All Die Someday: Once again overused trope in this novel. This indisputable fact is mentioned there way too often.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Both Polivanov and Konstantin at times act as such.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Losev is at loss about what his wife finds in her lover. Well, the latter is one head bigger than Losev himself and much heavier.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Losev is eventually that. He indeed tries to prevent the wrecking of the historical buuilding by bureaucratic manoeuvres but fails to see that people unaware of his machinations might resort to their own means.
    • Roginsky sends the letter to the paper about the endangered house. This is not in line with the intentions of Losev who tries to achieve his goal by behind-the-scene operations and is scared of publicity which can make him look disloyal.
    • Polivanov makes a Heroic RRoD which secures the preservation of the building.
    • In the end both of these acts are arguably as conducive to the preservation of the house as his manipulartions if not more. While he expected people to remain calm and trust him, being certain that he will win the bureaucratic kungfu fight.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The former wife of Lykov who cheats on him with the "bizon" or "zubr" (зубр in Russian). After that their marriage gradually collapses.
    • Also Lykov himself happened to cheat on his wife at least twice before he surprises her with a lover.
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