The appearance of Julio Jurenito to the peoples of Europe and to his first and most devoted disciple Ehrenburg takes place on March 26, 1913 in the cafe Rotunda on the Paris Boulevard Montparnasse, at the very hour when the author is dejected over a cup of long-drunk coffee, vainly waiting for someone who free him by paying the patient waiter six sous. Adopted by Ehrenburg and other regulars “Rotunda” for the devil, the stranger turns out to be a far more remarkable person – a hero of the civil war in Mexico, a successful gold digger, an encyclopedic scientist and a connoisseur of dozens of living and dead languages and dialects. But the main vocation of Julio Jurenito, called in the novel by the Teacher, is to be the Great Provocateur in the fatal years for mankind.
Following Ehrenburg, the disciples and companions of Jurenito are people who are otherwise unable to come together in other circumstances. Mr. Kul, an American missionary who brings back debt to Europe, who once brought the blessings of civilization to the New World: two powerful levers of history, he believes, is the Bible and the dollar. Among the projects of Mr. Kul are such truly brilliant as light commercials over bakeries: “The man does not live by bread alone,” the equipment of trade pavilions next to the scaffolds, so that the death penalty from low-grade shows turn into folk celebrations, and the expanded production of vending machines for the sale of hygiene
The last of the seven apostles of Jurenito, the funeral master, with the eclipse of Monsieur Deleu and the student Carl Schmidt, who built life on the most complex charts, taking into account every hour, step and pfennig. Approaching them to their person, Teacher discerns both their fast future and the fate of mankind: Dele fantastically grow rich on the victims of the world war, and Schmidt will take a high position in Bolshevik Russia…
The battle of nations disperses the company on the face of the earth. Some are called into the army – as, for example, Aisha, who is losing his hand at the front; others in the grandiose mystery get an unheard of role altogether-like Ercole Bambuci, the head of the economic department at the Vatican, bringing income to the Holy See from the sale of miraculous images and frankincense; the third mourns the perishing civilization – like Aleksei Spiridonovich, rereading for the tenth time “Crime and Punishment” and falling on the sidewalk in Paris at the exit from the “Opera Square” with a yell: “Knit me! Judge me! I killed a man!” Only Khurenito remains unperturbed: what is to be accomplished takes place. “It’s not people who have adapted to the war, but the war has adapted to people, it will end only when it destroys what it started for: culture and the state.”
In the incredible adventures of the Teacher and his seven disciples, only the reader is able to detect absurdities and strains; only an outsider may think that there are too many “suddenly” and “but” in this story. The fact that in an adventurous novel – a clever invention, in the fateful hours of history – a fact of the biography of the man in the street. Having escaped execution on charges of espionage alternately in France and the German sector of the front, having visited the Congress of Social Democrats in The Hague and on the open sea in a shallow boat, after sinking the ship with an enemy mine, having rested in Senegal, Aisha’s homeland, and taking part in a revolutionary the rally in Petrograd, in the circus of Ciniselli, our heroes are undergoing a new series of adventures in the vast expanses of Russia – it seems that it is here that Teacher’s prophecies finally incarnate, they acquire the flesh of the utopia of each of his companions.
Alas, there is no protection from fate, and in the revolutionary crucible the same vulgarity, stupidity and game are forged, from which they fled for seven years, the desolation of which they so desired, each in his own way. Ehrenburg is embarrassed: these grandchildren of Pugach, these bearded peasants, who believe that it is necessary to cut Jews first, to cut the Jews, and, secondly, the princes and the bar, can not cut out Communists, and, most importantly, to burn the cities, as all evil from them, are these really the true apostles of the organization of mankind?
“A nice little boy,” answers his beloved pupil Julio Jurenito with a smile, “did you realize just now that I’m a scoundrel, a traitor, a provocateur, a renegade, etc. The revolution is not revolutionary if it craves order.” As for the peasants, they themselves do not know what they want: either burn the cities, or peacefully grow with oaks on their own hillock, but, bound by a strong hand, they eventually fly into the oven, giving the power to the locomotive they hate… “
All again – after a formidable storm – “is connected by a strong hand”. Ercole Bambuci as a descendant of the ancient Romans is taken under the protection of the Department of Preservation of Antiquities. Monsieur Dele is going crazy. Aysha is in charge of the Negro section in the Comintern. Alexey Spiridonovich re-reads Dostoevsky in depression. Mr. Kul serves on the committee to combat prostitution. Ehrenburg helps Grandpa Durova to train guinea pigs. A big boss in the Council of People’s Commissars, Schmidt, straightens out an honest passport company for departure to Europe – so that everyone can return to their own places.
Back – and in ignorance and perplexity to peer into the future, not knowing and not realizing that they promise each of them new times. To languish and groan in the absence of the Teacher, who, in fulfillment of the last of the prophecies, was killed because of a pair of boots on March 12, 1921, at 8.20 pm in the city of Konotop.