The Russians Part 2: Nikolai Gogol

I don’t know if you noticed, but this post is rather late. How ridiculous is it that I forgot about my own challenge? Anyway, sometime in late April I remembered to pick up the Collected Tales and Plays of Nikolai Gogol that I had reserved at the library ages ago. It was a scary, big, leather bound edition, and it was heavy. Lugging it around everyday was a bit difficult but it was definitely worth it.

I read Dead Souls in the past, and while I appreciated the subject matter I found it a bit hard to read. But The Overcoat and Diary of a Madman were superb, so I didn’t know what to expect from Gogol this time. I was very pleasantly surprised by The Squabble (also known as The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarelled with Ivan Nikiforovich). Who knew Gogol was funny? This is a humourous story set in a small town, all the characters are practically caricatures yet remarkably realistic specimens of the type of people they are supposed to be.

The laughs were followed by tears as I couldn’t resist rereading Diary of a Madman which followed The Squabble. This is beautiful and Β heartbreaking, possibly my favourite short story ever. Another story in the volume that is worth mentioning is The Nose. I’m not so sure what this was supposed to be. I think I just didn’t get it, I kept thinking that everything that happens in it, which is not a lot, had some kind of meaning but I’m not sure what. If anyone has read it and understood what Gogol’s point was with this, I would really like to hear your thoughts…

Overall, I liked most of the stories of Nikolai Gogol. I’m really glad I read this book as I now realise he was a much more versatile writer than I had assumed. Next up in the challenge line-up is Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Here’s hoping I won’t forget.


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