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The Three Fat Men

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Doctor Gaspar Arney What a clever man is he! He can trap the sliest fox, He can crack the hardest rocks, He can fly from here to Mars, He can reach the farthest stars! This jolly song takes us in to the world of make-believe created by Yuri Olesha. The scene is set in a fantastic land ruled by three greedy fat men who are engrossed in eating and making merry in their palace. Doctor Gaspar Arney What a clever man is he! He can trap the sliest fox, He can crack the hardest rocks, He can fly from here to Mars, He can reach the farthest stars! This jolly song takes us in to the world of make-believe created by Yuri Olesha. The scene is set in a fantastic land ruled by three greedy fat men who are engrossed in eating and making merry in their palace. Meanwhile, curious things are happening outside the high palace walls. You will learn all about this and much more when you read this wise, merry tale that is so like the truth. The Three Fat Men, a favorite with all Soviet children, has run to over 30 printings, it was made into a film, and performed at many theaters in Russia. "Yuri Olesha (1899-1960), a Soviet prose writer and playwright, is immensely popular with readers for his novel Envy, his short stories, plays and the famous book for children The Three Fat Men, which is really one of his masterpieces." "Yuri Olesha's book The Three Fat Men is fantastic, fabulous, abounding in extraordinary transformation and fascinating happenings." -Literaturnaya Gazeta- "There was something Beethovenian in Yuri Olesha, even in his voice. His eyes discovered many marvelous, impressive things around him, and he wrote about them briefly, precisely and excellently. -Konstantin Paustovsky-


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Doctor Gaspar Arney What a clever man is he! He can trap the sliest fox, He can crack the hardest rocks, He can fly from here to Mars, He can reach the farthest stars! This jolly song takes us in to the world of make-believe created by Yuri Olesha. The scene is set in a fantastic land ruled by three greedy fat men who are engrossed in eating and making merry in their palace. Doctor Gaspar Arney What a clever man is he! He can trap the sliest fox, He can crack the hardest rocks, He can fly from here to Mars, He can reach the farthest stars! This jolly song takes us in to the world of make-believe created by Yuri Olesha. The scene is set in a fantastic land ruled by three greedy fat men who are engrossed in eating and making merry in their palace. Meanwhile, curious things are happening outside the high palace walls. You will learn all about this and much more when you read this wise, merry tale that is so like the truth. The Three Fat Men, a favorite with all Soviet children, has run to over 30 printings, it was made into a film, and performed at many theaters in Russia. "Yuri Olesha (1899-1960), a Soviet prose writer and playwright, is immensely popular with readers for his novel Envy, his short stories, plays and the famous book for children The Three Fat Men, which is really one of his masterpieces." "Yuri Olesha's book The Three Fat Men is fantastic, fabulous, abounding in extraordinary transformation and fascinating happenings." -Literaturnaya Gazeta- "There was something Beethovenian in Yuri Olesha, even in his voice. His eyes discovered many marvelous, impressive things around him, and he wrote about them briefly, precisely and excellently. -Konstantin Paustovsky-

30 review for The Three Fat Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ioana

    I read this at least 100 times as a child in Romania, just found it (in my early 30s) again in English and am so excited! While doing some research, however, I was shocked to see that Olesha has been criticized for sentimentalizing communism. Actually, as a very young girl, I could never understand why this book was not censored in Romania: everything about the "three fat men" reminded me of the Ceausescus, everything about the plight of the people and the sentiments towards revolution signaled I read this at least 100 times as a child in Romania, just found it (in my early 30s) again in English and am so excited! While doing some research, however, I was shocked to see that Olesha has been criticized for sentimentalizing communism. Actually, as a very young girl, I could never understand why this book was not censored in Romania: everything about the "three fat men" reminded me of the Ceausescus, everything about the plight of the people and the sentiments towards revolution signaled to me that perhaps something exciting would happen soon- it did, 1989 came a few years after I started reading The Three Fat Men. When The Revolution rolled into Bucharest, the only way my 9-year-old mind could grasp what was happening was by referencing this book. I was not politically sensitive, as most kids who are 6-9, yet by necessity living under that kind of regime, I had intuitions about the injustice placed on the Romanian people/my friends and family, and I felt these all addressed so elegantly, poetically, and colorfully in this fairy tale. I couldn't get enough of this book, it was the One and Major Work I read as a child under the communist regime which truly helped me articulate, even at such a young age, the necessity of revolution and freedom from oppression of dictatorial regimes. I would say, to anyone who sees this in any way as an endorsement of communism: Olesha is maligned as a Soviet sympathizer simply because he miraculously managed to not spend any time in the gulag, like pretty much every other major writer/artist during the time period. While direct dissent is powerful and admirable, I think Olesha's methods may be even more far-reaching and consequential - because his art actually made it into people's hands, and even naive children like me got a taste of the revolution, before knowing what it was. This is how communism worked in practice: nothing could be published if it wasn't endorsed by The State, and if The State didn't like your work, you'd be off for labor camps. The only ways to get messages across were between the lines, through cleverly disguised satire and humor: this novel/fairy tale does that BRILLIANTLY! Yes, maybe Olesha passed this book off as being about the ascendant communist revolution, but we the people living under the dictatorship of the proletariat saw it for what it was: a book about OUR oppression, OUR upcoming revolution. No way a literate person writing for a mass-audience didn't intend that, or understand that this is how it would be read by the average Ioan(a)-shmoe. Updated March 26, 2016

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darya Conmigo

    It's funny, if somewhat scary, how when you're a kid you don't really see even explicit political propaganda in your favorite books. When I was five, or seven, or whatever I was when I read The Three Fat Men for the first time, it was, to me, a book about brave little dancer Suok and romantic Heir Tutti and smart Doctor Gaspar. Now it is unmistakably a book about Revolution and Class Struggle, its real main characters. What remains unchanged though is that this tale is written extremely well. It's funny, if somewhat scary, how when you're a kid you don't really see even explicit political propaganda in your favorite books. When I was five, or seven, or whatever I was when I read The Three Fat Men for the first time, it was, to me, a book about brave little dancer Suok and romantic Heir Tutti and smart Doctor Gaspar. Now it is unmistakably a book about Revolution and Class Struggle, its real main characters. What remains unchanged though is that this tale is written extremely well. Olesha has a great sense of language and his unexpected and witty metaphors cracked me up more than once - I doubt I noticed all these small details as a child. Moreover, I have an excellent 1984 Almaty edition with Lena Selivanova's illustrations. Even though the plot is rather simplistic, the language and the illustrations make me think that The Three Fat Men wasn't really aimed at children. Or, at least, not only at children.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nataly

    Best children book ever

  4. 4 out of 5

    NicAlba

    Magical. Vividly described. Imaginative. Childish in the best and most wonderful sense. Colorful. Fantastical. Unpredictable. Adventurous. The best. :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ана Хелс

    Като говорим за пропаганда в най-чист вид, предназначен за подрастващите и гъбкопопивателни умове на децата ни, няма как да не сетя първо за Носов, и след това веднага за Олеша, с неговата кратка и привидно почти забавна повест, за свалянето от власт на тримата шишковци – едри фабриканти, производители на въглища, желязо и жито, от смелия народ развял червени знамена, искащ равенство и братство, и еднакви възможности и обществени блага за всички. Но да се спъна в плосък камък дано, ако съм Като говорим за пропаганда в най-чист вид, предназначен за подрастващите и гъбкопопивателни умове на децата ни, няма как да не сетя първо за Носов, и след това веднага за Олеша, с неговата кратка и привидно почти забавна повест, за свалянето от власт на тримата шишковци – едри фабриканти, производители на въглища, желязо и жито, от смелия народ развял червени знамена, искащ равенство и братство, и еднакви възможности и обществени блага за всички. Но да се спъна в плосък камък дано, ако съм усещала дори сянка на нещо такова-пропагандистко в трите милиона пъти, в които съм разлиствала богато украсените страници на красивата ми по руски книга (спомнете си книжните райски градини наречени руски книжарници отпреди двадесет и много плюс години), ако и да е било твърде близо до ума на всеки читател с някаква политическа осъзнатост. Може би все пак става въпрос за висока степен на авторско майсторство, създаващо полу-фентъзийна история с много про-комунистически привкус, разказващо за онази алена утопия, която в крайна сметка не се е случвала никъде и никога, освен в умовете на няколко идеолога и интелигента в изгнание из безкрайните бели сибирски полета. Историйката е много стегната и мистично хвърляща те в музиката – тайнствен град, на планета или реалност, чиято близост до нашите не се обсъждат, управляван от тримата чорбаджии-изедници с наднормено тегло, живеещи си в кротък идиличен Версай, с обичайните бедняци, работници и богаташи, без кой знае колко подробности. Оказваме се в средата на гражданска революция, или поне опит за такава, която бива потушено доста политически некоректно и кърваво. Но пухкавите олигарси не ги интересуват тези неща, ами най-вече се концентрират върху десерта, екзотичната си менажерия, и специалния си наследник – симпатично разглезено момченце, без ясна женска прародителка. Водачите на бунта между другото са стройни, силни и атлетични – като всеки върл комунист, аха, аха. Проблемът идва от факта, че симпатичната и почти магична стийм пънк кукла на малкия принц е леко повредено от обърнали се към пурпурните знамена подли хусари, и нужда номер едно на мини обществото е играчката да се поправи, преди бъдещия мини шишко да се изрине от плач. И с това се заема един всемогъщ, почти по вълшебнически начин, доктор, който се забърква напълно неидеологично в смяната на една политическа система. Историята е безкрайно простичка, но разказана с достойна жестокост, повишена смъртност и незамазани кървави петна по улиците. Деца почти умират разкъсани от диви животни, хора-чудовища издъхват от разбити сърца, а неясната съдба на националните предатели е по-скоро щедро загатната в последен опит да се спестят на децата някой и друг нощен слашър кошмар. Революцията не изяжда децата си, и затова е чисто фентъзийна и идеалистично натоварена с блянове и сънища за по-добър живот по френско-бастилски. И всички знаем докъде стигат мечтите, щом с изпълнението им са натоварени обичайните заподозрени хомо сапиенси. Великолепна детска книжка, криеща в себе си повече послания, отколкото ме е грижа да видя; симпатична основа за нещо по-голямо, което обаче няма как да се създаде без да се разкрие чистата истина , че и най-добрите от нас твърде често попадат в канавката на морала заради някои компромисни решения. Олеша, Олеша, а ти така си вярвал в бъдещето…

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dueep J.

    I was at University when I found this book, translated not into English, but in Hindi. The translator had done an amazing job, and the illustrations- there were two versions, cartoon-ish and pictorial- were wonderful. I naturally got hooked on the beautiful artwork. The story at that tome was amusing enough because a teenager wasn't too impressed with Revolution. But later I knew that Olesha had to write something which could be given the go ahead by the Stalinist regime so now on reading it I was at University when I found this book, translated not into English, but in Hindi. The translator had done an amazing job, and the illustrations- there were two versions, cartoon-ish and pictorial- were wonderful. I naturally got hooked on the beautiful artwork. The story at that tome was amusing enough because a teenager wasn't too impressed with Revolution. But later I knew that Olesha had to write something which could be given the go ahead by the Stalinist regime so now on reading it again as propaganda I can see his tongue in cheek mordant wit, thinly described as a fairy tale. Any gospodin speaking his mind out aloud to the nobles as Prosper the armourer did- 'All who used to work for you and were paid peanuts for it while you grew fat, all the unfortunate, the deprived, the hungry, the emaciated ones, the orphans, the cripples, the beggars - all are going to war with you, with the fat and the rich who have replaced their hearts with stone- would have been whipped soundly in real life, but he got away with this hifalutin stuff in this intensely moving fairy tale. I suggest getting children to read this book because they will love the rich prose. Adults can see it at a way in which a very intelligent writer is apologising for the Revolution.He knew it for what it was- hot air and purges and a worse rule than than of the Three fat men.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Standndie

    Нет, ну конечно "Три Толстяка" мне знакомы. Все смотрели это чудный фильм, или же не менее хороший мультфильм. А многие даже читали. Вот и у меня была в детстве антология с названием "Золотой ключик", в которой были эти "Три Толстяка", жаль подевалась неизвестно куда. Казалось бы, и я наверняка должен был читать этот роман в детстве, но нет - абсолютно ничерта не помню. Разве что, кроме четверостишия: Как лететь с земли до звёзд, Как поймать лису за хвост, Как из камня сделать пар, Знает доктор Нет, ну конечно "Три Толстяка" мне знакомы. Все смотрели это чудный фильм, или же не менее хороший мультфильм. А многие даже читали. Вот и у меня была в детстве антология с названием "Золотой ключик", в которой были эти "Три Толстяка", жаль подевалась неизвестно куда. Казалось бы, и я наверняка должен был читать этот роман в детстве, но нет - абсолютно ничерта не помню. Разве что, кроме четверостишия: Как лететь с земли до звёзд, Как поймать лису за хвост, Как из камня сделать пар, Знает доктор наш Гаспар. Его я смутно вспомнил, да. Возможно из того же фильма, хотя кто его знает, где я мог его встречать. К тому же, как не прочитать, когда появилось издание с чудными иллюстрациями М. Бычкова. Они шикарны. Конечно же, будучи ребенком такая сказка и представляется сказкой, само собой, добро побеждает, все счастливы и т.д. Сейчас же я понимаю - это довольно жестокая сказка. Да и сказкой-то можно назвать весьма условно. Убийства, революция, свержение правящего класса. Куда ж такое детям-то? Хотя, конечно, в детстве всего этого не замечаешь, чего уж там.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bhushan

    It was fun reading this book as a kid. I read the Hindi translation at that time. What stayed with me as a memory of this book was the gymnast Tibul - his antics and his different name. I used to reflect on this book and used to think that how a political opinion can be sugar coated and made in to an easily digestible fable for kids so that they are indoctrinated early on. I still keep that opinion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    l.

    brilliant and enchanting and adorable! if i had a child, i'd make them read this and thus introduce them to the wonderful world of russian lit.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vijji

    One of my favorite books as a child - I used to get it from the library again and again and again...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maksim

    Детская книжка, которая не кажется детской ребенку и не кажется взрослой взрослому. Застряла между. Прочитал после просмотра первого эпизода у БДТ. Там это было сплошная фантастика. Понравился рваный стиль повествования, скачками и забегая одной историей на другую. Мне бы больше понравилось, увеличь ее в два раза и раскрой всех героев. Получилась скомканной.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cătălin Feștilă

    I read it in the past (right after 1989 of the Romanian Revolution). It is a colorful and savory mix expressing a sympathetic trilogy. The children will be a little bit agitated about the evolution of the events, but they will remain overflowing realism. The people always rise against the tyrants, and each time it is defeated.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Noustian

    Despite its purely literary merits (hence 4 stars), it reads like a revolutionary pamphlet and that makes me uncomfortable. Especially knowing when it was written and being aware of the ugly consequences of destroying the old Russian way of life by the bolsheviks 100 yeas ago (almost to the day).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Magnus

    Fairy tale about revolution. Great characters, wonderful plot and almost completely forgotten author. Which is a shame.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kïrâñ Syåm

    In മലയാളം

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lyuba

    Вспомнила детство.... старая добрая сказка. Хоть и осуждали Олешу за коммунистические идеи, все-таки по сути, это сказка о борьбе с жестокостью и несправедливостью.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adina Cenko

    When I was younger I loved this book, but I read it again as an adult and I understood that it's communist propaganda, and behind the funny characters lie some miserable principles.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dartsya

    Странное чувство от того, что видишь по-новому одну из своих детских книжек. Кто бы знал, что в ней столько политики:)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ayush Srivastava

    This was

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lauri

    Nõukogude muinasjutt "vaeste" ja "kehvikute" revolutsioonist "paksude" vastu, sisaldab kõiki nõukogude mütoloogia märksõnu ja käibefraase, nagu rikkad ja rasvunud "rõhujad", puupaljad, kuid oksendamiseni õilsad "kehvikud", kes on kõik head, targad, inimlikud, aga sellest hoolimata täiesti vaesed, vastandina kõikide halbade iseloomujoontega esindatud "rikkad", kes on kõik ilged sead. Lugu (ja sellest tehtud film) pälvis Nõukogudemaal päris suure populaarsuse, terved põlvkonnad venelasi on üles Nõukogude muinasjutt "vaeste" ja "kehvikute" revolutsioonist "paksude" vastu, sisaldab kõiki nõukogude mütoloogia märksõnu ja käibefraase, nagu rikkad ja rasvunud "rõhujad", puupaljad, kuid oksendamiseni õilsad "kehvikud", kes on kõik head, targad, inimlikud, aga sellest hoolimata täiesti vaesed, vastandina kõikide halbade iseloomujoontega esindatud "rikkad", kes on kõik ilged sead. Lugu (ja sellest tehtud film) pälvis Nõukogudemaal päris suure populaarsuse, terved põlvkonnad venelasi on üles kasvanud teadmisega, et rikkad on per se halvad (ja paksud, paks olla on halb, mitte sellepärast et see tervisele halvasti mõjub, vaid sellepärast et paksus on tingitud rikkusest, rikkus on aga vaestelt kokku "röövitud") ja on õige ja õiglane neid maha lasta ja nende rikkus ära võtta, "vaestele jagada". Ühesõnaga, selline primitiivne sõjakommunismi aegne arusaam, töötab aga ilmselt tänini, kuigi noistsamadest vaestest kehvikutest on juba reaalses elus võrsunud uusrikkad, kes pole ilmselt vähem paksud ja halastamatud varanduse kokkuriisumisel. Nende uusrikaste lapsed aga loevad seda muinasjuttu, ja tunnevad "vaestele ja rõhututele" kaasa ning rõõmustavad kui vaeste massid punalippude lehvides relvameister Prospero ja akrobaat Tibulluse juhtimisel paksude riigikorda ("kapitalismi") kukutavad. Hariv pilguheit nõukogude ideoloogia juurtele.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cinabru Hoffmann

    Nu există nici o carte proletcultistă pentru copii mai eficientă decât această fantezie revoluţionară a lui Iuri Oleşa, neapărat în ediţia mare, cartonată, scoasă în 1987 de editura Ion Creangă în colaborare cu moscovita Raduga. Au mai existat şi altele, dar aceasta era cea ”bună”. Pe un fundal hoffmannesc în amestec bine dozat cu principii leniniste, Trei grăsani este basmul perfect al Revoluţiei din Octombrie, repovestită ca o revoltă a muncitorilor şi săracilor împotriva triumviratului Nu există nici o carte proletcultistă pentru copii mai eficientă decât această fantezie revoluţionară a lui Iuri Oleşa, neapărat în ediţia mare, cartonată, scoasă în 1987 de editura Ion Creangă în colaborare cu moscovita Raduga. Au mai existat şi altele, dar aceasta era cea ”bună”. Pe un fundal hoffmannesc în amestec bine dozat cu principii leniniste, Trei grăsani este basmul perfect al Revoluţiei din Octombrie, repovestită ca o revoltă a muncitorilor şi săracilor împotriva triumviratului despotic şi lacom al celor trei grăsani. Grăsani, pentru că în contrast cu muncitorii slabi, flămânzi, dar cu antebraţe vânoase de culturişti (dacă ne raportăm la iconografia fazei revoluţionar-romantice a comunismului), cei trei sunt puhavi, monstruoşi, diformi. Proletariatul este mândru, slab şi idealist. Grăsanii şi acoliţii lor sunt leneşi, răi şi lacomi. Nimic mai simplu ca dihotomie. Operetă bufă pentru copii. Pentru copii comunişti, care, se ştie, sunt mai buni decât cei burghezi. - See more at: http://cinabru.blogspot.ro/2012/04/iu...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emperador Spock

    — Скажите, чем больна эта девочка? Неужели дифтеритом? — Нет, у неё дыра в груди. — Вы хотите сказать, что у неё не в порядке лёгкие? — У неё дыра в груди, — повторил чиновник. Доктор из вежливости не спорил. — Бедная девочка! — вздохнул он. — Это не девочка, а кукла, — сказал чиновник. От Олеши я меньшего и не ожидал. Сочная, нажористая колбаска заместо языка, и так и требующие облизать себя засаленные яркими персонажами пальцы. Искрясь, медком льется буйное фантазерство. Вместе с этим, книга немного — Скажите, чем больна эта девочка? Неужели дифтеритом? — Нет, у неё дыра в груди. — Вы хотите сказать, что у неё не в порядке лёгкие? — У неё дыра в груди, — повторил чиновник. Доктор из вежливости не спорил. — Бедная девочка! — вздохнул он. — Это не девочка, а кукла, — сказал чиновник. От Олеши я меньшего и не ожидал. Сочная, нажористая колбаска заместо языка, и так и требующие облизать себя засаленные яркими персонажами пальцы. Искрясь, медком льется буйное фантазерство. Вместе с этим, книга немного разочаровывает простецкостью сюжета и нарастающей к концу до неприличных даже для «детской» литературы размеров снисходительности. В «Зависти» автор поработал гораздо тоньше.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ancie Wilfred

    Just finished reading it for my younger son. Had read it to my elder son a few years back. These, added to the umpteen times I had read it in my childhood, prove how fascinating the book is. I just love the attention to the tiny details. Yuri Olesha is actually a 'God of small things in the bigger picture' cos the bigger picture is painted beautifully too. One can really visualise each event in the story, even without illustrations. The story itself is a tale of standing up for our rights & Just finished reading it for my younger son. Had read it to my elder son a few years back. These, added to the umpteen times I had read it in my childhood, prove how fascinating the book is. I just love the attention to the tiny details. Yuri Olesha is actually a 'God of small things in the bigger picture' cos the bigger picture is painted beautifully too. One can really visualise each event in the story, even without illustrations. The story itself is a tale of standing up for our rights & having courage to even face death for the sake of our convictions and a tirade on tyranny by the rich. All in all, a beautiful story.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jānis

    Šitāda sociālisma propoganda noteikti nopelnīja autoram elites stāvokli. Būtībā - tauta cīnās pret trim resnvēderiem (nez, kuras valstis ar to bija domātas? :D). Tauta, protams uzvar. Starp varoņiem ir pašaizliedzīgā Suoka, ieroču meistars Prospero, vingrotājs Tibuls un, protams, zinātnieks doktors Arneri. Pēdējā nodaļa bija īpaši laba: strādāsim kopā, būsim visi bagāti, bet, ja mirsim badā, tad arī mirsim badā visi. Pilnīgs sviests :D

  25. 5 out of 5

    Soobie's scared

    L'ho letto alle medie. Chissà, magari ero troppo piccola perché non ci ho capito niente... E non ne ho un buon ricordo. Eppure tante altre recensioni dicono di averlo adorato da bambini... Bah! A dodici anni, Soobie scriveva: Libro abbastanza bello. Racconta le avventure di un paese che è tiranneggiato da tre grassoni che opprimono il popolo con tasse e lavori pesanti. Poi i ribelli prendono in mano la situazione.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jun Nguyễn

    The book length can make it as a long fairy tale or a short novel (not a real novel thought), it's still just a book for children. Sure it has some twists and the plots are quite compelling, but the storyline is predictable, you can also find some mishaps, some text are wordy, and the illustrations could have been done better. However, should't live up too much for a children book away, since not everything is The Petite Prince, though.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    Lo encontré entre libros de segunda mano y a un precio que básicamente gritaba que querían deshacerse de el. Aunque debo admitir que lo primero que me llamo la atención fueron sus hermosas ilustraciones, me quede enganchada rápidamente con la lectura, la forma en la que lo narran es hermosa y entretenida. No soy mucha de leer libros infantiles pero este resultó un maravilloso descubrimiento.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lumos Ktbspa

    It was a surprise for me for it was real good as a book for 10 y.o. kids.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Naveen

    superb

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sivaraman S

    Childhood memories :)

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