Monday 2 March 2020

Book Review: The Nose and Other Stories by Gogol (Classics / Short Stories)

Title: The Nose and Other Stories
Author: Nikolai Gogol
Columbia University Press

Publication Date: 1 September 2020
eBook - PDF
Classics / Short Stories
ARC via NetGalley


Nikolai Gogol's novel Dead Souls and play The Government Inspector revolutionized Russian literature and continue to entertain generations of readers around the world. Yet Gogol's peculiar genius comes through most powerfully in his short stories. By turns--or at once--funny, terrifying, and profound, the tales collected in The Nose and Other Stories are among the greatest achievements of world literature.

These stories showcase Gogol's vivid, haunting imagination: an encounter with evil in a darkened church, a downtrodden clerk who dreams only of a new overcoat, a nose that falls off a face and reappears around town on its own, outranking its former owner. Written between 1831 and 1842, they span the colorful setting of rural Ukraine to the unforgiving urban landscape of St. Petersburg to the ancient labyrinth of Rome. Yet they share Gogol's characteristic obsessions--city crowds, bureaucratic hierarchy and irrationality, the devil in disguise--and a constant undercurrent of the absurd. Susanne Fusso's translations pay careful attention to the strangeness and wonder of Gogol's style, preserving the inimitable humor and oddity of his language. The Nose and Other Stories reveals why Russian writers from Dostoevsky to Nabokov have returned to Gogol as the cornerstone of their unparalleled literary tradition. 

I adored Gogol's Dead Souls when I read it a few years ago, but I'd never gotten around to picking up any of his other works, so of course I requested this short story collection straightaway when I saw it on NetGalley. Overall, it was an enjoyable read. I appreciated Gogol's clever blend of reality with the fantastical, particularly in the earlier tales, and all the stories were imaginative and memorable in their own way. The translation reads smoothly, without any jarring, and the collection provided me with two nights' pleasant, easy reading. I had great fun with these stories and recommend them to fans of short stories with a hint of magical realism and those who enjoy the Russian classics. 4.5 stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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