Leonard (Lenny) Makepeace
Leonard (Lenny) Makepeace, also known as Leonid Tikhomirov (leh-oh-NIHD tih-khoh MIH-rov), a young bicycle repairman in the fictitious Russian city of Lyubimov. Lenny’s father was a cobbler who perished in World War II. His mother dotes on him, trying continually to fatten his lean, narrow-chested frame with cottage cheese. Lenny becomes obsessed with coming to power in Lyubimov because he thinks this will please Serafima Petrovna, the attractive local language teacher. He obtains power by the use of “mental magnetism,” a skill he acquired by reading a book written by Samson Samsonovich Proferansov, the philanthropist ancestor of Savely Kuzmich Proferansov, a Lyubimov librarian. After taking power, Lenny enforces a hypnotic utopia on the citizens of Lyubimov, protecting the city from outside authorities by means of a sort of mental camouflage. Lenny’s utopia embodies a naïve idealism, well-meaning but at variance with the many frailties of human nature. In the end, his control erodes, and he even commands certain unappreciative citizens to die in the interest of a public welfare that he defines. His friends and supporters desert him as the outside authorities retake the city by force. Lenny sneaks out of the city and into obscurity by hitching a ride on a freight train.
Savely Kuzmich Proferansov
Savely Kuzmich Proferansov (sah-VYEH-lee kewz-MIHKH proh-feh-RAN-sov), the Lyubimov municipal librarian and the intermittent narrator of the novel’s events. A widower with a bald spot and a grown daughter, Savely befriends Lenny Makepeace, suggesting that Lenny involve himself in reading as solace for Serafima Petrovna’s lack of affection. When Lenny’s reading results in his taking control of the city, Savely is elevated to become his official historiographer. Savely’s writing, however, is openly influenced by the will of his disembodied ancestor, Samson Samsonovich...
(The entire section is 858 words.)