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Одноэтажная Америка

Книга для чтения на английском языке
Артикул: 776849.01.99
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«Одноэтажная Америка» — произведение в жанре путевого очерка, написанное Ильей Ильфом и Евгением Петровым. Это добрая и умная книга, рассказывающая о жизни и быте американцев, о встречах авторов с самыми разными людьми, полная интересных историй и наблюдений. Читателям предлагается неадаптированный перевод произведения на английский язык, выполненный Чарльзом Маламутом. Пособие рассчитано на широкий круг читателей, изучающих английский язык и интересующихся творчеством И. Ильфа и Е. Петрова.
Ильф, И. А. Одноэтажная Америка : книга для чтения на английском языке : пособие / И. А. Ильф, Е. Петров ; пер. с русск. Ч. Маламута. - Санкт-Петербург : КАРО, 2021. - 512 с. - (Russian Modern Prose). - ISBN 978-5-9925-1498-8. - Текст : электронный. - URL: https://znanium.com/catalog/product/1864340 (дата обращения: 23.07.2024). – Режим доступа: по подписке.
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Translated from the Russian  
by Charles Malamuth

УДК 372.881.111.1
ББК  81.2 Англ–93 

ISBN 978-5-9925-1498-8

Ильф Илья, Петров Евгений.

И48     Одноэтажная Америка : Книга для чтения на 
английском языке / И. Ильф, Е. Петров. — [Пер. 
с русск. Ч. Маламута]. — Санкт-Петербург : КАРО, 
2021. — 512 с. — (Russian Modern Prose).

ISBN 978-5-9925-1498-8.

«Одноэтажная Америка» — произведение в жанре 
путевого очерка, написанное Ильей Ильфом и Евгением 
Петровым. Это добрая и умная книга, рассказывающая о 
жизни и быте американцев, о встречах авторов с самыми 
разными людьми, полная интересных историй и наблюдений.
Читателям предлагается неадаптированный перевод 
произ ведения на английский язык, выполненный Чарльзом Маламутом.
Пособие рассчитано на широкий круг читателей, изучающих английский язык и интересующихся творчеством 
И. Ильфа и Е. Петрова.

УДК 372.881.111.1 
ББК 81.2 Англ–93

© Каро, 2021



Translated from the Russian  
by Charles Malamuth


1. Тhe Normandie

АT NINE o’clock а special train leaves Paris for Le 
Havre with passengers for the Normandie. This train 
makes no stops. Three hours after its departure it rolls 
into the large structure which is in the Havre maritime 
station. Here the passengers descend to a shut-in platform, are lifted by escalators to the upper floor of the 
station, walk through halls and along passageways, all 
completely enclosed, and finally find themselves in a 
large vestibule where they take their places in elevators 
and depart for their various decks. At last they are on the 
Normandie. They have not the slightest idea what it looks 
like, for throughout this journey they had not even caught 
a glimpse of its outer contours.
We, too, walked into an elevator. A lad in a red tunic 
with gold buttons gracefully lifted his arm and pressed 
a knob. The shining new elevator rose a little, stopped 
and suddenly moved down, paying no heed whatever to 
the uniformed operator who desperately continued to 
press the knob. After falling three floors instead of rising two, we heard the painfully familiar phrase—on this  

occasion pronounced in impeccable French: “The elevator 
is out of order!”
We took the stairway to our cabin, a stairway covered throughout with a non-inflammаblе rubber carpet 
of bright green. Тhе соrridоrs and vestibules of the ship 
were covered with the same carpeting, which makes each 
footfall soft and soundless. But one does not fully appreciate the merits of rubber carpeting until the ship begins 
to roll in earnest. Then the carpeting seems to grip the 
soles. True, that does not save one from being seasick, but 
it does keep one from falling.
The stairway was not at аll of the steamship type. 
It was broad, slanting, with runs and landings of dimensions generous enough for a mansion.
The cabin was likewise quite unsteamerlike. A spacious room with two ample windows, two broad wooden 
beds, easy-chairs, wall closets, tables, mirrors-in fact, all 
the blessings of a communal dwelling, even unto a telephone.
Only in a storm does the Normandie resemble a ship. 
But in good weather it is a large hotel, with a sweeping 
view of the ocean, which, having suddenly torn loose from 
its moorings in a modern seaside health resort, is floating 
away at the rate of thirty-odd knots an hour.
Down below, from the platforms of the various floors 
of the station people who were seeing the passengers 
off shouted their final good wishes and farewells. They 
shouted in French, in English, in Spanish. They also shouted in Russian. A strange chap in a black seafaring uniform 
with a silver anchor and a shield of David on one sleeve, 
a beret on his head and a sad little beard on his chin, was 
shouting something in Jewish. Later we learned that he 

was the ship’s rabbi; the General Transatlantic Company 
had engaged him to minister to the spiritual needs of a 
certain portion of its passengers. Other passengers had at 
their disposal Catholic and Protestant priests. Moslems, 
fire worshippers, and Soviet engineers travelled without 
benefit of clergy; on that score the General Transatlantic 
Company left them entirely to their own devices.
The Normandie has a spacious church with dim electric lights; it is designed primarily for Catholic services, 
but may be adjusted to suit other denominational needs. 
Thus, the altar and the icons may be covered with special shields designed for that purpose and the Catholic 
church converted automatically into a Protestant house 
of worship. As for the rabbi of the sad little beard, there 
being no available room for him, the children’s nursery 
was assigned for the performance of his rites. Whereupon 
the company provided him with a tallith and even with 
special drapery for covering temporarily the mundane 
representations of bunnies and kittens.
The ship left the harbour. On the pier, at the mole, 
everywhere were crowds of people. The Normandie was 
still a novelty to the citizens of Le Havre. They forgathered 
from all corners of the city to greet the transatlantic titan 
and bid it bon voyage.
But the French shore was finally lost in the smoky 
mists of the murky day. Toward evening we saw the lights 
of Southampton. For an hour and a half the Normandie 
stood in its roadstead there, taking on passengers from 
England, surrounded on three sides by the distant and 
mysterious lights of a strange city. Then again she put 
out to sea, and again began the seething tumult of unseen 
waves aroused by tempestuous winds.

In the stern, where we were located, everything 
trembled. The deck and the walls and the lights and the 
easy-chairs and the glasses on the washstand and the 
washstand itself trembled. The ship’s vibration was so 
pronounced that even objects from which one did not expect any sound made a noise. For the first time we heard 
the sound of towels, soap, the carpet on the floor, the paper on the table, the electric bulb, the curtain, the collar 
thrown on the bed. Everything in the cabin resounded, 
and some things even thundered. If a passenger became 
thoughtful for a moment and relaxed his facial muscles, 
his teeth at once began to chatter of their own free will. 
All through the night it seemed to us that someone was 
trying to break down the door of our cabin and someone 
else was constantly rapping at our window-pane and 
laughing ominously. We discovered no less than a hundred different sounds inside our cabin.
The Normandie was on its tenth voyage between 
Euro pe and America. It was scheduled to go into dry 
dock after its eleventh trip, when its stern would be taken 
apart and the structural deficiencies that caused vibration eliminated.
In the morning a sailor came into our cabin and 
closed its windows with metal shutters. A storm was rising. A small freighter was having a difficult time making 
its way to the French shore. At times it disappeared in the 
waves, only the tips of its masts remaining visible.
We had always expected to find the ocean roadway 
between the Old and New Worlds quite lively with traffic. Now and then,—we imagined, we would come across 
ships blaring music and waving flags. But we found the 
ocean a grandiosely deserted expanse. The little boat that 

we saw bucking the storm four hundred miles from Euro pe 
was the only ship we passed during the entire five days of 
our crossing. The Normandie rolled with slow and dignified deliberateness. It steamed ahead, never decreasing 
its accustomed speed, nonchalantly flinging aside the 
high waves that attacked it on all sides. Rarely would it 
dip—and then in even tenor with the ocean. Here was no 
unequal struggle between some miserable contraption 
fashioned by man’s hand and the unbridled forces of nature. It was rather a contest between well-matched titans.
In a semicircular smoking saloon three famous 
wrestlers with cauliflower ears were sitting with their 
coats off, playing cards. Shirts bulged out from under 
their vests. They were in the throes of painful thinking. 
Huge cigars dangled from their mouths. At table two men 
played chess, every minute adjusting the chessmen that 
kept sliding off the board. Two others, their chins cupped 
in the palms of their hands, watched the chess game. Who 
but Soviet folk would ever think of playing the queen’s 
gambit in such weather? We guessed it: the charming 
Botvinniks proved to be Soviet engineers.
In time people met one another and formed congenial groups. A printed list of passengers was distributed. 
There we found a very amusing surname: Sandwich— 
a whole family of Sandwiches, Mr. Sandwich, Mrs. Sandwich, 
and young Master Sandwich.
We entered the Gulf Stream. A warm rain drizzled. 
In the oppressive hothouse atmosphere hung the heavy 
sediment of the oily smoke that the Normandie’s smokestacks belched forth.
We set out to inspect the ship. A third-class passenger 
does not see much of the boat on which he travels. He is 

not allowed either into the first or into the tourist class. 
Nor does the tourist-class passenger see much more of 
the Normandie, for he likewise is not permitted to trespass certain limits. But the first-class passenger is the 
He occupies no less than nine-tenths of the entire 
ship. Everything is immense in the first class—the promenade decks, the lounges, the saloons for smoking and the 
saloons for playing cards, and the saloons especially for 
ladies, and a hothouse where fat little French swallows 
swing on glass branches and hundreds of orchids hang 
from the ceiling, and the theatre with its four hundred 
seats, and the swimming-pool full of water illuminated 
through its bottom with green electric lights, and the 
market ing square with its department store, and the saloons for sport where elderly bald-headed gentlemen, flat 
on their backs, play ball with their feet, and other saloons 
where the same bald-headed men, tired of tossing balls 
and jumping up and down on a cinder-path platform, 
dream in embroidered easy-chairs; above all immense 
is the carpet that covers the main saloon, for surely it 
weighs more than half a ton.
Even the smokestacks of the Normandie, which one 
might think would belong to the entire ship, are reserved 
exclusively for the first class. In one of them the dogs of 
the first-class passengers are kept. Beautiful pedigree 
dogs, bored to the verge of madness, stand in their cages. 
Most of the time they are rocked to dizziness. Now and 
then they are led out on a leash for a walk on a special 
deck reserved for them. Then they bark uncertainly and 
regard the tossing ocean sadly.
We went into the galley. Scores of chefs were at work 
around a huge electric stove. Scores of others were dress
ing fowl, carving fish, baking bread, rearing tortes. In a 
special department kosher food was being prepared. Occasionally the steamship’s rabbi would come down here 
to make sure that the gay French chefs did not throw bits 
of the unorthodox trefa into this sequestered food.
The Normandie is reputed to be a masterpiece of 
French technique and art. Its technique is indeed splendid. Admirable are its speed, its fire-fighting system, the 
bold and elegant lines of its body, its radio station. But as 
for art, surely the French have known better days. There 
were, of course, the faultlessly executed paintings on 
the glass walls; but the paintings themselves were not 
in any way distinguished. The same might be said of the 
bas-relief, the mosaic, the sculpture, the furniture. There 
was a profusion of gold, of coloured leather, of beautiful 
metals, silks, expensive wood, fine glass. There was much 
wealth but little real art. As a whole, it was what French 
artists, helplessly shrugging their shoulders, called “stile 
triomphe”. Not long ago in Paris, on the Champs-Elysees, 
was opened a Cafe” Triomphe, sumptuously upholstered 
in the boudoir manner. A pity! We should like to have 
seen as partners of the remarkable French engineers who 
created the Normandie equally remarkable French artists 
and architects. All the more is the pity since France has 
such people.
Certain defects in technique—for example, the vibration in the stern, which threw the elevator out of commission for half an hour—and other annoying trifles must 
be charged not against the engineers who built this firstrate ship, but rather against the impatient orders of their 
clients who were in a hurry to begin exploiting the ship 
under any circumstances in order to secure a blue ribbon 
for record speed.

On the eve of the ship’s arrival in New York there 
was a gala banquet and an evening of amateur entertainment managed by the passengers themselves. The dinner 
was the same as ever, except that a spoonful of Russian 
caviare was added. Besides that, the passengers were 
given pirate hats of paper, rattles, badges with blue ribbons on which “Normandie” was inscribed, and wallets of artificial leather, also with the trade-mark of the 
company. Gifts are distributed to prevent pilfering of the 
ship’s property. The point is, the majority of travellers 
are victims of the psychosis of collecting souvenirs. During the Normandie’s first voyage the passengers stole as 
mementoes a huge quantity of knives, forks, and spoons. 
Some even carried away plates, ash-trays, and pitchers. 
So, it proved more convenient to make a gift of a badge 
for a buttonhole rather than lose a spoon needed in the 
ménage. The passengers were overjoyed with these toys. 
A fat lady, who throughout the five days of the journey had 
sat in a corner of the dining saloon all alone, suddenly 
in a most businesslike manner put the pirate hat on her 
head, discharged her popgun, and attached the badge to 
her bosom Evidently she regarded it as her duty to take 
advantage conscientiously of all the blessings she was 
entitled to by virtue of her ticket.
The petty-bourgeois amateur entertainment began 
in the evening. The passengers gathered in the saloon. 
The lights were put out, and a spotlight was trained on a 
small stage. There, her entire body trembling appeared 
a haggard young woman in a silver dress. The orchestra, 
made up of professional musicians, regarded her with 
pity. The audience applauded encouragingly. The young 
lady opened her mouth convulsively and shut it at once. 

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