How the two Ivans quarrelled: Large Print (Paperback)


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This story takes place in a bucolic small town of Mirgorod (Myrhorod in Ukrainian), written in the style featuring grotesque, realistic portrayals of the characters. The two Ivans are gentlemen landowners, neighbors and great friends, each one almost being the opposite image of the other. Ivan Ivanovich is tall, thin, and well-spoken, for example, while Ivan Nikiforovich is short, fat, and cuts to the point with a biting honesty. One day, Ivan Ivanovich (Ivanovich, as well as Nikiforovich, is a patronymic, not a surname) notices his friend’s servant hanging some clothes out to dry as well as some military implements, especially a Turkish rifle that interests him. He goes over to Nikiforovich’s house and offers to trade it for a brown pig and two sacks of oats, but his friend is unwilling to part with it and calls Ivan Ivanovich a goose, which terribly offends him. After this, they begin to hate each other. Nikiforovich erects a goose pen with two posts resting on Ivanovich’s property, as if to rub in the insult. To retaliate, Ivan Ivanovich saws the legs off in the night and then fears that his former friend is going to burn his house down. Eventually, Ivan Ivanovich goes to the courts with a petition to have Ivan Nikiforovich arrested for his slander. The judge cannot believe what is occurring and tries to convince him to make amends, but he disregards their suggestions and leaves the courthouse.


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