Who Laughs Last: Word and satire genius of Kandrat Krapiva

Who Laughs Last: Word and satire genius of Kandrat Krapiva

In Art's noble kitchen
Vain and worthless weed I lie,
Of what kind? Fit but for laughter!
I am the stinging nettle – I.

(The Nettle, 1922; translated by Vera Rich)

This is how Kandrat Atrakhovich wrote on himself just after

he had chosen an apt pen name Krapiva (which stands for 'nettle' in Belarusian) to become a classic of a 'stinging' satire in Belarus.

He was born in 1896 to live a long, mostly happy, but sometimes tragic, life – 95 years!

Mikalai Atrakhovich, Krapiva's grandson:

he was a very modest man.

In the 70s, there was such a little book of caricatures and epigrams, one of them was dedicated to my grandfather. There was such a simple traditional village house on the picture, with a simple interior, my granddad and several Belarusian writers in it. The words by Ryhor Baradulin were just absolutely right:

“There were hotels, there were motels,
Where we swallowed rum with oysters –
Incomparable at all
With potatoes, just at home!”

Kandrat Kandratavich fought in four wars, but never stopped writing and always found inner sources to live and laugh.

He became an outstanding scientist and always seemed to be very strict and serious, though, at the bottom of his heart, he had always been a romantic.

Alena Atrakhovich, Krapiva's granddaughter:
He liked to relax at his dacha, a summer cottage in Zhdanovichy. There he raised a nice apple garden with wonderful apples.

It was very important for Granddad to come and see the garden in blossom, the beauty of the garden in spring gave him pure joy.

I guess he was a romantic in a way.

He spent lots of time behind the desk in his dear study. Here, in the deep silence, his best lines were written to become the classics of Belarusian literature. Nevertheless, hard work never prevented him from spending time with his nearest and dearest.

Alena Atrakhovich, Krapiva's granddaughter:
He was very old when he got a great-granddaughter, my daughter Varvara. They became best friends. When Varvara went to primary school, she always entered the Granddad's study after the classes. She never called him “Great-granddad”, but always “Grandpa” or even “my grandpa Kandrat”. They talked a lot, he read her books.

Granddad invented a word game for Varvara, she liked riddles most. Later, it inspired Granddad to write a book for children, The Riddles of Grandpa Kandrat.

He had a talent to find new and new images and to expose skilfully the vices that can be so hard to admit. That is why his works are evergreen. For example,

his play Who Laugh's Last still raises a laugh in the theatres all over Belarus.

He always knew who does laugh last and shared his knowledge with his readers. That's how the writer used his talent to learn Belarusians how to live and laugh at themselves and their weaknesses. Kandrat Krapiva played a priceless role in Belarusian literature and, certainly, deserves a monument – let's hope it's just a question of time.