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History of a Town - Reprint (Apollo Library) by M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin (Paperback)
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The town governors . . . all flogged the inhabitants, but the first flogged them pure and simple, the second explained their zeal by referring to the needs of civilization, and the third asked only that in all matters the inhabitants should trust in their valour.
One of the major satirical novels of the 19th century, Shchedrin's farcical history of Glupov (or Stupid Town) follows the bewildered and stoical Russian inhabitants for hundreds of years as they endure the violence and lunacy of their tyrannical rulers.