Kozma Prutkov

Kozma Petrovich Prutkov (Russian: Козьма́ Петро́вич Прутко́в) is a collective pen name used by Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy and his cousins, three Zhemchuzhnikov brothers, Alexei, Vladimir and Alexander to publish satires, aphorisms, fables, epigrams, and humorous and nonsense verses during Nicholas I of Russia's authoritarian reign in the 1850s–1860s, most notably in the literary magazine "Sovremennik" (The Contemporary).


  • Many things are not well understood by us not because our concepts are weak, but because those things lay outside of our concepts
    • Original Russian: "Многие вещи нам непонятны не потому, что наши понятия слабы; но потому, что сии вещи не входят в круг наших понятий"
  • Even an oyster has enemies!
    • Often quoted as "Even oysters have enemies", e.g. Barbara Heldt Monter: Kozma Prutkov - the Art of Parody. Mouton 1973. p. 58 or Jack Nicholson at the 2010 AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony for Mike Nichols (without attribution to Kozma Prutkov)
    • Original Russian: И устрица имеет врагов!
  • Here come the Slavophiles and Nihilists, and none of them have clean fingernails.
    • Original Russian: "Идут славянофилы и нигилисты, У тех и у других ногти не чисты"[1]

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  1. A. K. Tolstoi, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v dvukh tomakh [Complete Works in two volumes] (Leningrad, 1984), 1:386.
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