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En dåres anteckningar

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"År 2000 i april den 43:e. I dag är en festdag utan dess like! Spanien har en kung. Han har återfunnits. Denne kung är jag. Just i dag fick jag reda på det. Jag får allt erkänna att det var som att plötsligt träffas av blixten. Jag begriper inte hur jag hela tiden har gått omkring och trott mig vara ett titulärråd. Varifrån fick jag en sådan löjlig idé? Tur att ingen kom på "År 2000 i april den 43:e. I dag är en festdag utan dess like! Spanien har en kung. Han har återfunnits. Denne kung är jag. Just i dag fick jag reda på det. Jag får allt erkänna att det var som att plötsligt träffas av blixten. Jag begriper inte hur jag hela tiden har gått omkring och trott mig vara ett titulärråd. Varifrån fick jag en sådan löjlig idé? Tur att ingen kom på tanken att spärra in mig på dårhus. Nu är allt uppenbarat för mig. Nu ser jag allt klart och tydligt. Men tidigare, jag begriper det inte, tidigare såg jag allt som genom en dimma."

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"År 2000 i april den 43:e. I dag är en festdag utan dess like! Spanien har en kung. Han har återfunnits. Denne kung är jag. Just i dag fick jag reda på det. Jag får allt erkänna att det var som att plötsligt träffas av blixten. Jag begriper inte hur jag hela tiden har gått omkring och trott mig vara ett titulärråd. Varifrån fick jag en sådan löjlig idé? Tur att ingen kom på "År 2000 i april den 43:e. I dag är en festdag utan dess like! Spanien har en kung. Han har återfunnits. Denne kung är jag. Just i dag fick jag reda på det. Jag får allt erkänna att det var som att plötsligt träffas av blixten. Jag begriper inte hur jag hela tiden har gått omkring och trott mig vara ett titulärråd. Varifrån fick jag en sådan löjlig idé? Tur att ingen kom på tanken att spärra in mig på dårhus. Nu är allt uppenbarat för mig. Nu ser jag allt klart och tydligt. Men tidigare, jag begriper det inte, tidigare såg jag allt som genom en dimma."

30 review for En dåres anteckningar

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    If you are a reader of taste and discernment, a reader who values their time, you could do worse than pick up this little volume of tales by Nikolai Gogol. How many books of a merely 231 pages can offer you four masterpieces (three short stories, one novella) and one delightful, expertly crafted short story that might convince you it was a masterpiece too if you had discovered it almost anywhere except in this august company? From the first, Gogol was an outsider. Ukrainian-born but descended fro If you are a reader of taste and discernment, a reader who values their time, you could do worse than pick up this little volume of tales by Nikolai Gogol. How many books of a merely 231 pages can offer you four masterpieces (three short stories, one novella) and one delightful, expertly crafted short story that might convince you it was a masterpiece too if you had discovered it almost anywhere except in this august company? From the first, Gogol was an outsider. Ukrainian-born but descended from Cossacks; a gentleman but of the lesser gentry; fiercely ambitious, but moody and solitary, his schoolmates called him “our mysterious dwarf.” His early work was a series of Ukrainian stories, but his mother had to help him research the details, for he had only a little knowledge of his own history. His later tales are set in St. Petersburg, the governmental capital of Russia, from whose closely regulated social hierarchy he felt alienated, and which he held in great contempt. Still an outsider, he was a Ukrainian in a Russian world. Fortunately, though, St. Petersburg recognized great work when they saw it: Pushkin admired him, his play The Government Inspector was a success, and Gogol was welcomed into the literary world. The tale of Gogol’s life grows darker from then on, but all the works in this small volume are taken from this early period. Taras Bulba is a romantic epic in miniature, an account of the Cossack people at war with the Poles, filled with savagery and heroism. The other masterpieces here are all taken from his “St. Petersburg Tales,” ironic depictions of petty men obsessed with their position in a bureaucratic hierarchy: in the ghostly tale “The Overcoat”—perhaps the greatest of the works here—a bureaucrat seeks (and loses) a new coat to uphold his declining status; in the surrealistic work “The Nose,” a bureaucrat’s own nose abandons him, and goes off to seek social status on its own; and in wildly funny and pathetic “The Diary of a Madman,” a bureaucratic clerk obsessively in love with his employer’s daughter disintegrates into increasingly delusions. (The other tale, the comically anti-climactic “The Carriage,” though it is set in a little town where the cavalry is stationed and features a local landowner and former cavalryman, is filled with same concerns for social status as “The St. Petersburg Tales.”) The translation here is a good one, and flows easily. I didn’t find the afterward by Priscilla Meyer all that helpful. But at least it is mercifully brief.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Namrirru

    This book forever changed my view of little dogs.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sean Blake

    When you look back to the Golden Era of Russian Literature, Nikolai Gogol is like the odd man out. You have the romanticism of Pushkin, the philosophical depth found in Dostoyevsky, complex examinations of Russian society in Tolstoy, the realist style of Turgenev and then you have the satirical and farcical works of Gogol. It’s funny because Gogol’s stories fit ever so comfortably amongst the twentieth century Russian literature, where satirical stories were rampant due to Soviet censors. It’s e When you look back to the Golden Era of Russian Literature, Nikolai Gogol is like the odd man out. You have the romanticism of Pushkin, the philosophical depth found in Dostoyevsky, complex examinations of Russian society in Tolstoy, the realist style of Turgenev and then you have the satirical and farcical works of Gogol. It’s funny because Gogol’s stories fit ever so comfortably amongst the twentieth century Russian literature, where satirical stories were rampant due to Soviet censors. It’s ever so comfortable because you don’t need to consciously place your mind in nineteenth century Russia to read Gogol. Somehow he places it for you, without any extended visual sequences needed. You are just there, in amongst the surrealism, the farce, the political satire, the absurdism, the quirkiness, the sadness, the self-awareness. Gogol effortlessly transports you on a literary odyssey like no other literature from that era. It’s all these qualities that keeps Gogol’s stories so fresh, timeless and hilarious. It’s understandable that without Gogol we would have no Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Bulgakov, Platonov and so many other different writers. Soviet writers of the early twentieth century, especially during Stalin’s regime, can only thank Gogol for writing socially and politically charged satires and managing to get away with them. Let’s not forget that there were strict censors even during the nineteenth century, especially during Gogol’s lifetime. “I confess I felt deeply troubled when I considered how unusually delicate and insubstantial the moon is. The moon, as everyone knows, is usually made in Hamburg, and they make a complete hash of it. I’m surprised that the English don’t do something about it. The moon is manufactured by a lame cooper, and it’s obvious the idiot has no idea what it should be made of. The materials he uses are tarred rope and linseed oil. That’s why there’s such a terrible stink all over the earth, which makes us stop our noses up. And it also explains why the moon is such a delicate sphere, and why people can’t live there — only noses. For this reason we can’t see our own noses any more, as they’re all on the moon.” Gogol, Diary of a Madman Diary of a Madman, The Nose and The Overcoat are probably his very best short stories, and all stylistically very different from one another. Utilising the diary format, the protagonist, Poprishchin, in Diary of a Madman challenges governmental bureaucracy and upper society in a hilarious and somewhat sad satire of a delusional man simply wanting to be noticed in the world, echoing the world we live in today. Some of literature’s funniest lines can be found in Diary of a Madman. The Nose is a complete farce, an almost proto-Kafkaesque and self-aware journey of a man whose nose has mysteriously fallen off his face, and his travels around St Petersburg to find it. The Overcoat completely changes tone into a gloomy, atmospheric tale of perception and troubled consciences, all revolving around an overcoat. Still, Gogol retains his trademark absurdism and structured prose, in an all-round fantastic collection of his short stories. Gogol is simply one of Russia’s greatest writers.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Χαρά Ζ.

    _The diary of a madman_ **It's a 4,5** One of the finest short stories i have ever read. I loved it <3

  5. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    Mental illness is no laughing matter, but Gogol's use of humor is intentional in this well known short story, and it's hard ñot to chuckle at his story about the dog's conversation. For a more serious depiction of someones decent in to mental illness I recommend The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris_P

    The Diary of a Madman Like the title suggests, it's the diary of a man who steadily succumbs to madness (schizophrenia?). Anyone, of any age, time, status, can find themselves relating to the hero and that's what makes it a bit frightening. A unique combination with its humorous style.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laysee

    The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories is my first foray into the writing of Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, an early 19th century Russian writer of Ukrainian origin. This collection contains six short stories and a novella. The stories are not all equally robust but a couple are excellent. Dominant themes revolve around men seeking escape from their poverty or hankering after marriage to maidens beyond their reach or a future to which they aspire, and almost always their regretful recourse to other The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories is my first foray into the writing of Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, an early 19th century Russian writer of Ukrainian origin. This collection contains six short stories and a novella. The stories are not all equally robust but a couple are excellent. Dominant themes revolve around men seeking escape from their poverty or hankering after marriage to maidens beyond their reach or a future to which they aspire, and almost always their regretful recourse to other worldly powers. The world Gogol crafted is suffused with the magical as well as the grotesque. The best way to enjoy his stories is to suspend judgment and allow oneself to be immersed in the surreal interactions of man, nature, and supernatural forces. Below are two stories that stood out for me. The Diary of a Madman This story is one of Gogol’s best known works. The protagonist is Mr. Ivanovotch, a disgruntled pen mender who has lost his mind. We hear his thoughts that are initially benign and almost comic surrounding dissatisfaction with his colleagues and infatuation with his director’s daughter. Gogol skillfully showed how Ivanovitch’s mind unravels. He hears dogs speak. He becomes increasingly detached from reality. One day, Ivanovitch makes a startling discovery: ‘The year 2000. April 43rd. Today is a day of splendid triumph. Spain has a king, he has been found and I am he. I discovered it today, all of a sudden it came upon me like a flash of lightning.’ His fragmented mind is reflected in how the calendar is no longer recognizable (e.g., ‘Marchember 86’). Sad tale. The Mysterious Portrait This is the story I thought most remarkable in this slim volume. It is a mesmerizing story about the fate that befalls an artist on account of a strange portrait that he acquired from the last twenty kopeks in his purse. Part I describes the portrait’s lifelike, unnerving and piercing eyes on the face of an Asiatic old man in flowing robes. This portrait drastically changes not only the fortune of a penurious artist but also his artistic soul. This tale explores the travails of the artist as he seeks to balance faithfulness to his vocation, the veracity of his talent that hard work and devotion coaxes into refinement against the economic realities of survival and the temptation to sacrifice art to popular opinion and consumerism. Part II picks up the back story to the mysterious portrait and its hidden power. The telling of this tale cannot but cause us to think about the role of art and its incredible power for good and evil. The artist can be a conveyor of all that is beautiful and divine, but he can also become an instrument of harm if he betrays his talent and his heart is not in the right place. The story has an enigmatic ending that leaves a disquieting feel as if those eyes are still searching for their next unsuspecting soul to destroy. The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories is captivating mostly on account of its strangeness. The novella (Evenings in Little Russia) and two stories (An Evening in May, A Mid-Simmer Evening) are bizarre tales about how thwarted courting couples enlist the help of the supernatural to be together. After a while, I learn that mystic powers can be invested in a red svitka (a coat), that old women are often witches in disguise, and that a lovelorn person should never sell his or her soul to the devil. Read The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories for a taste of Gogol’s fantastical writing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Prashant

    This is the second Gogol that I read and it's so so so much fun to live in his world. If The Overcoat had the poise and permanence of a man who understands the tribulations of his fellow human being, in this one Gogol sits in the mind of a madman to make us understand the thinking process of the person behind the facade. The story is the journey of a man from the normal state of search of his place in this world to the extreme of delusion and confusion leading to madness. The craving to be wanted This is the second Gogol that I read and it's so so so much fun to live in his world. If The Overcoat had the poise and permanence of a man who understands the tribulations of his fellow human being, in this one Gogol sits in the mind of a madman to make us understand the thinking process of the person behind the facade. The story is the journey of a man from the normal state of search of his place in this world to the extreme of delusion and confusion leading to madness. The craving to be wanted and respected is in every human being. Even if you are a masochistic self-depriving anorexic freak(!), you still look for the acceptance from others which is indispensable for our survival. At every point you can see the ladder leading to worsening of the man's mental state and you will feel for him. I for one wanted to stop his madness and was looking for the end of his respite. If he can just understand how the world works. If he can be a little more happy for himself. If he will just content himself with the mediocrity that he has been bestowed with. Damn all the fictitious world that we want to live in. Here is the reality we face everyday of our life. I may have turned into a pessimistic non-content paranormal idiot to think about the doom of everything, but that's what I think Gogol wanted to covey here and I truly sympathize with him. There are many facets of this story and while I am writing this I am encountering a new thought, a new perspective in every line I am typing here. Let's stop here and here is my final thought on this one, Maybe just maybe, some of us are just meant to go for madness rather than be settled with mediocrity. I mean, that's what is taught to us. That's what the world expects from us. To strive for that madness, the elusive kingdom, the impossible halcyon that we have to keep on looking for. May be it's just the cycle of life. Each generation will keep on working and improving itself till the time will come when a madmen will rise and then the cycle will repeat itself!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    While I liked Gogol's writing, I couldn't grasp hold of the absurdist aspects of the stories. They irritated me, which is not really what I was looking for in my reading experience. I definitely prefer 19th century French realism over Russian, from my experience so far. So . . . interesting, probably worthwhile just to have read them, but would not rec, would not read again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    “To-day is a day of the greatest rejoicing. Spain has a King. He has been discovered. I am that King. It was only to-day I found it out. The revelation came to me like a flash of lightning.” For a madman the world is what is in his head… And Nikolai Gogol puts into the head of his madman many ridiculous things that will delight any reader. “But men are unfair, with this way of reckoning in weeks. The Jews invented it because it’s their Rabbi’s washing time… And all those fathers, holders of office “To-day is a day of the greatest rejoicing. Spain has a King. He has been discovered. I am that King. It was only to-day I found it out. The revelation came to me like a flash of lightning.” For a madman the world is what is in his head… And Nikolai Gogol puts into the head of his madman many ridiculous things that will delight any reader. “But men are unfair, with this way of reckoning in weeks. The Jews invented it because it’s their Rabbi’s washing time… And all those fathers, holders of office, all that set of theirs who fawn on everyone and push their way to court, and call themselves patriots and what not,—it’s bonuses, bonuses, all these patriots want! They’d sell their father and mother and God for money,—ambitious snobs, Judases! All this is caused by ambition, and ambition is caused by a little vessel situated under the tongue, and in the vessel there is a small worm no bigger than a pin’s head, and all this is made by a barber who lives in Gorokhovaya Street. I forget his name, but I know for a fact that in concert with a certain midwife he is trying to spread Mahomedanism all over the world, and I am told that in France the majority of the people have already adopted the religion of Mahomet.” Nikolai Gogol literally turns all the pharisaic ambitions and fears into the madman’s grotesque thoughts. The Nevski Prospect is a rather sinister and ironic tale of some amorous adventures. The Portrait is a bizarre and flowery Gothic story. All three tales are written in that unique style that only Nikolai Gogol could use.

  11. 4 out of 5

    James

    I never really thought of myself as a 'Russian Literature' kind of guy. But this was another one of those books that my father bought me, during my university years, when he was, I assume, trying to improve me (I have since realised that this was a regular enough occurrence to create a shelf, father-improves-me, to immortalise the collection). Obviously, my university years are behind me now by some way, so I figure I've put reading this one off for long enough. I came to Gogol's Diary of a Mada I never really thought of myself as a 'Russian Literature' kind of guy. But this was another one of those books that my father bought me, during my university years, when he was, I assume, trying to improve me (I have since realised that this was a regular enough occurrence to create a shelf, father-improves-me, to immortalise the collection). Obviously, my university years are behind me now by some way, so I figure I've put reading this one off for long enough. I came to Gogol's Diary of a Madam and Other Stories with absolutely no idea what to expect. In fact, I hadn't even really considered that the title implied a short-story collection rather than a novel until I picked the book up to read it. I had however assumed that Russian meant heavy, dense writing, but instead I was in for a shock. The stories were simple, everyday ideas, almost folksy; given a witty narration and light on heaviness. The style felt almost British to me (like we're the only nation who do wit). Maybe the translator, Ronald Wilks, brings more to the stories than he gets credit for? The collection comprises five shorter stories, and it opens with the good stuff. Diary of a Madman is definitely the story that brings the five stars for this book. It is told through the diary entries of a lowly civil servant as he descends into madness and over-imagination – he falls in love with his boss's daughter; reads letters written by her dog; and realises that he's next in line to the recently vacated throne of Spain. Again, my test of any awesome book is that I need to read bits out to people nearby (in a moment of serendipity this time it was my father) and while the later stories didn't quite pass that test, Diary of a Madman did in spades. The collection continues with The Nose the story of a man who wakes up one morning missing his nose. As something of a cocksman, his nose is suggested to be a metaphor for his more sensitive area, but it seemed more to me to be a deliberately ridiculous and pointless story, one that he could use to cock a snoot at the censors of the day, suggesting that there is nothing left worth writing about if all literature is to be censored. The Overcoat is another one of Gogol's more famous stories, and is the tale of an inconsequential civil servant who saves for a new overcoat. While mocked for the old overcoat, the new one makes him popular. The story seemed a little too long in the build up, although I wondered if that was deliberate to drag out the tension. The last two stories, How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich and Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and His Aunt were amusing, but didn't feel up to the standards of the first three. Maybe Gogol's more at home with stories of nobody civil servants that he is with more middle-class landowners. All the stories are of everyday folk and strange personalities. Gogol seems to have something of a preoccupation with civil servants, noses, geese and overcoats, as each of these items feature in multiple stories. Also, all the stories feature some narration which breaks the fourth wall. Gogol is telling us the story, but it's also a conversation with us as well.

  12. 4 out of 5

    EvilNick

    A lot of people think that Gogol is a master of mixing the everyday with the absurd - a subtle kink of the credible incredible. These people are the ones that are mad. What Gogol knows is that the reality of the everyday is absurd. I would write more, but I am expecting a delegation from Spain...

  13. 4 out of 5

    P.E.

    The Diary of a Madman This is the notes taken by a man suffering from increasing dementia. I like how the madness builds up from rampant angst to screaming dementia. And how it culminates in the hero firmly asserting his being the king of Spain :) Amusing and disturbingly convincing... The Portrait The story is about a young destitute, unsuccessful painter tempted by the opportunity of wealth and fame. Instant, effortless, staggering riches... Only it comes at a ghastly price... The "dream withing a The Diary of a Madman This is the notes taken by a man suffering from increasing dementia. I like how the madness builds up from rampant angst to screaming dementia. And how it culminates in the hero firmly asserting his being the king of Spain :) Amusing and disturbingly convincing... The Portrait The story is about a young destitute, unsuccessful painter tempted by the opportunity of wealth and fame. Instant, effortless, staggering riches... Only it comes at a ghastly price... The "dream withing a dream" trope in The Portrait is carried out masterfully and I couldn't help feeling ill at ease and vaguely theatened, in spite of my reading it in the text like a slug! ... Matching Soundtrack : Becoming Insane - Infected Mushroom

  14. 5 out of 5

    Abraham

    I enjoyed most stories just not Taras Bulba...

  15. 4 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    "What do you want?" "I want to have a little conversation with your dog." Absolutely brilliant! I think my favorite part is the degeneration of the dating system he uses on his journal.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gloria Mundi

    The Diary of a Madman is a short story about a man's descent into madness. The hero, Poprishchin, is a middle aged minor civil servant obsessed with Sophie, the young and beautiful daughter of his boss, a senior official who stands on a much higher rank of the social ladder. As he begins to slide into insanity, the hero believes that he can hear a conversation between Madgie, Sophie's dog, and another dog and later steals letters written by Madgie to the other dog. The extracts from these letter The Diary of a Madman is a short story about a man's descent into madness. The hero, Poprishchin, is a middle aged minor civil servant obsessed with Sophie, the young and beautiful daughter of his boss, a senior official who stands on a much higher rank of the social ladder. As he begins to slide into insanity, the hero believes that he can hear a conversation between Madgie, Sophie's dog, and another dog and later steals letters written by Madgie to the other dog. The extracts from these letters and the hero's reaction to them were particularly hilarious. Realising that the object of his affection is in love with a handsomer, younger and richer man and having learned that a donna is about to accede to the Spanish throne as there is no male heir, the hero suddenly realises that he is, in fact, the lost heir and, unsurprisingly, ends up in an insane asylum. Poprishchin as drawn by Ilya Repin: Gogol manages to be absurd and hilarious, while at the same time making a point about the self-delusional vain ideas we have about ourselves, which is still very much relevant today, and drawing a clever satire of the deep social divisions and beurocracy in 19th century Russia. And all in less than 30 pages.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    Three extremely interesting stories of the great Russian writer, in which he displays different aspects of his vast literary talent. The first two, The Diary of a Madman and Nevski Prospect, are two hilarious stories through which the author satires without mercy ... everything from politics and the way of life of the bourgeoisie to the romantic novels. The last ote, The Portrait, is a Gothic story that revolves around a strange portrait that has a mysterious effect on those who own it, a story Three extremely interesting stories of the great Russian writer, in which he displays different aspects of his vast literary talent. The first two, The Diary of a Madman and Nevski Prospect, are two hilarious stories through which the author satires without mercy ... everything from politics and the way of life of the bourgeoisie to the romantic novels. The last ote, The Portrait, is a Gothic story that revolves around a strange portrait that has a mysterious effect on those who own it, a story that reminds me of similar stories of western writers and more specifically ofEdgar Allan Poe. Of course, I can say something similar about the first two stories, although certainly all three are somewhat more of a Russian character and this is obvious in the end of the last story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Troy

    I picked this up because I read a parody of Gogol's "The Nose" by Dubravka Ugrešić (in her version, a guy wakes up to find his dick missing, looking like a Ken doll, and some poor schmuck of a woman finds the lost appendage in her hotdog bun). Anyway, I wanted to re-read not just "The Nose," but all of Gogol, who I haven't read in many years, and who blurred in my mind with his later acolytes, Bulgakov and Kafka. But Gogol is weirder than both. Despite all the strangeness and abrupt shifts in Ka I picked this up because I read a parody of Gogol's "The Nose" by Dubravka Ugrešić (in her version, a guy wakes up to find his dick missing, looking like a Ken doll, and some poor schmuck of a woman finds the lost appendage in her hotdog bun). Anyway, I wanted to re-read not just "The Nose," but all of Gogol, who I haven't read in many years, and who blurred in my mind with his later acolytes, Bulgakov and Kafka. But Gogol is weirder than both. Despite all the strangeness and abrupt shifts in Kafka's stories, they all seem to have an internal dream logic. But Gogol is schizophrenic. He borders on bad children's fantasy. That is, weird shit just happens, and then again, and then again, and then back to humdrum reality. And then another story is just flat out reality, albeit violent and intense. At the same time the stories hum of a political allegory whose tones I'm too deaf to pick up, and maybe whisper of a religious allegory which I just don't care about. But more important than any of that : Gogol is funny. Even funnier than Kafka. So some quick notes for now: "Diary of a Madman" Hilarious and weird. A middle aged mid-level bureaucrat becomes convinced he's the King of Spain. The diary entries get progressively weirder until they're just gobbledygook. His reinterpretation of reality to fit his own take on the world is distressing. I kept thinking, oh shit, I haven't been that delusional, but maybe a little... "The Nose" Whoa. A guy wakes up to find someone's nose in his bread. Another guy wakes up to find his nose missing and a smooth space in its place. The story switches logics and scenes and ideas so quickly that it seems like a exploding kaleidoscope. Now the nose is an officer who is wearing a uniform of a high rank and talking and walking and taking carriages, and now the nose is just a chunk of meat, and now... and now... and now... "The Carriage" You know that dream where you are in your underwear and you're in the high school auditorium and everyone is laughing at you AND you're late to the test that will allow you to graduate and, oh shit, you MISSED the test. And now they're laughing even more. This story is that. "The Overcoat" Gogol nailed Kafka's evil and banal bureaucracy well before Kafka did. Except his hero is a Bartleby-like figure who actually likes his work and is just endlessly shit upon until he finally, due to luck, makes a change. The change changes his life and his status and all is good and bright and then: POW! Fucked by life. And then the story gets REALLY WEIRD. I would use this as a Dungeons and Dragons plot if I still played Dungeons and Dragons. "Taras Bulba" This novella is relentlessly bad ass. A 17th c. violent action noir where everyone is splattered with blood and everyone dies. Relentless. Brutal. Fantastic. (Also racist and uncompromising.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ipsita

    I'm trying to start with Gogol's 'Dead Souls' but can only get to 70 pages before putting it off. It has happened twice now. But maybe next time; after all third time's the charm (fingers crossed). During the second time of my procrastination saga, I switched to some of his well known short stories. Out of which, I completed 'Diary of a Madman' in a breeze. This definitely inspired me to chase Gogol with renewed zeal (in the foreseeable future). There comes a period of dormancy in everyone's lif I'm trying to start with Gogol's 'Dead Souls' but can only get to 70 pages before putting it off. It has happened twice now. But maybe next time; after all third time's the charm (fingers crossed). During the second time of my procrastination saga, I switched to some of his well known short stories. Out of which, I completed 'Diary of a Madman' in a breeze. This definitely inspired me to chase Gogol with renewed zeal (in the foreseeable future). There comes a period of dormancy in everyone's life at some stage (semester exams, in my case) when everyone becomes an existentialist. Some of these novice existentialists wish to quit their routine and sink deep into their existentialism. This story doesn't explore that. It explores an ordinary man's descent into the other side of sanity because he has let the fire of his existentialism incinerate the need to carry on the facade of being 'sane and normal'. It is true that, sometimes, we are walking along the edge of sanity but this story illuminates the lives of those who have already stumbled into insanity. Though sanity is a very 'relative' concept, this short piece of literature is 'absolute' brilliance. It is funny with its incoherent musings (some of which are truly cynical and even honest, at times) and tragic with the pernicious caprice of authorities playing with people whom society deems to be unworthy of living in its community. "No, I have no longer power to endure. O God! what are they going to do with me? They pour cold water on my head. They take no notice of me, and seem neither to see nor hear. Why do they torture me? What do they want from one so wretched as myself? What can I give them? I possess nothing. I cannot bear all their tortures; my head aches as though everything were turning round in a circle. Save me! Carry me away! Give me three steeds swift as the wind! Mount your seat, coachman, ring bells, gallop horses, and carry me straight out of this world. Farther, ever farther, till nothing more is to be seen!"

  20. 5 out of 5

    Greer

    'The Overcoat' is one of the most beautiful Russian stories of all time, or so I believe anyway. Akaky Akakych still haunts me, and whenever I think of him it's like every sympathetic, maternal bone in my body just spasms. He was so adorably insulated and sweet and pathetic, with the enjoyment he took from copying... he would get home from work as a copyer, just to delight in copying some more for leisure. That alone was touching in that sad kind of way, and made me feel sort of protective over 'The Overcoat' is one of the most beautiful Russian stories of all time, or so I believe anyway. Akaky Akakych still haunts me, and whenever I think of him it's like every sympathetic, maternal bone in my body just spasms. He was so adorably insulated and sweet and pathetic, with the enjoyment he took from copying... he would get home from work as a copyer, just to delight in copying some more for leisure. That alone was touching in that sad kind of way, and made me feel sort of protective over him. His love for his life and his copying and his routine and solitude was especially poignant and cutting when he locked eyes with the colleague who taunted him, and just was so exasperated, and so tired of being picked on, and just said 'why do you torment me'. But of course the saddest was the excitement he felt on donning his brand new coat. Never mind that the party wasn't much fun, and it wasn't important about his new-found respectful status among his co-workers... he was just so proud of that jacket and as swept away in it as he'd been in his copying. The pathetic figure of him, hunched over on the pavement, having had the coat stolen, is just one of the most powerful, evocative things I've ever read. I don't know why; I read books about wars and suicides and I feel nothing, besides an impersonal sort of interest for the sake of the story, but I read this and I can't get it out of my head two years on. I guess Gogol was a genius writer, is the best explanation. Such a beautiful, terrible story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Harsha

    My first book from Gogol. It is a short story in the form of a diary written by the protagonist Poprishchin. It is very funny and kinda sad story of a delusional man who thinks of all the things he is not as he is and also makes crazy interpretation and assessment of the world he lives in. Though the man is evidently crazy, it’s only a hyper-conscious version of the people in this society. The prose is very neat and well structured and it is so easy to read and has a flow to it. You know it when My first book from Gogol. It is a short story in the form of a diary written by the protagonist Poprishchin. It is very funny and kinda sad story of a delusional man who thinks of all the things he is not as he is and also makes crazy interpretation and assessment of the world he lives in. Though the man is evidently crazy, it’s only a hyper-conscious version of the people in this society. The prose is very neat and well structured and it is so easy to read and has a flow to it. You know it when you read it. I am going to read many of Gogol in the upcoming times :) I recommend this quick read :)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elena Sala

    "Gogol is Russia's first Kafka, her supreme chronicler of bureaucracies and the insecurities of social life as it registers on the shy and the neurotic", Caryl Emerson observed. I absolutely agree with this description of this baffling author. This book contains a selection of short stories set in Gogol's native Ukraine and in St. Petersburg, the city which had an obsessive effect on him, and later, on Dostoevsky. In these short stories we find expressed the essential absurdity of life, stories wh "Gogol is Russia's first Kafka, her supreme chronicler of bureaucracies and the insecurities of social life as it registers on the shy and the neurotic", Caryl Emerson observed. I absolutely agree with this description of this baffling author. This book contains a selection of short stories set in Gogol's native Ukraine and in St. Petersburg, the city which had an obsessive effect on him, and later, on Dostoevsky. In these short stories we find expressed the essential absurdity of life, stories where dream and reality are confused so that we have no way of distinguishing what is true from the illusory, what has value from what is worthless. St. Petersburg is a place of utter alienation for Gogol. His characters are grotesque caricatures who live in this bewildering city where individuals seem to lose all identity. Tragedy comes from the magnification of trivial and banal causes, his downtrodden, insignificant clerks struggle unsuccessfully with the bureaucratic machine. Gogol has a strange way of telling tragical stories and yet, you find a lot of comedy in them. What I find astonishing is that the reader can relate to Gogol's puppet-like characters although they don't even seem real nor do they have any psychological depth at all. Yet, his poor, snivelling clerks, mocked and scorned by all, are so unforgettable as endearing. Gogol is a must read if you enjoy Russian literature in general, and Dostoevsky in particular.

  23. 4 out of 5

    KurdishBookworm

    I love how the story is flowing and how Gogol normalise it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anne Zappa

    NG's works apart from absurd tragi-comedy themes blatantly mock ostentatious propriety driven materialistic debaucheries which have become a huge part of what it is to live in the world today. I had this idea that 200 years ago the myriads were not too prone of such ways as they weren't exposed to media/advertisements which has lead our generation into chasing unnecessary things while trying to create a social image which only contribute to our hubris. These stories suggest that these indeed are NG's works apart from absurd tragi-comedy themes blatantly mock ostentatious propriety driven materialistic debaucheries which have become a huge part of what it is to live in the world today. I had this idea that 200 years ago the myriads were not too prone of such ways as they weren't exposed to media/advertisements which has lead our generation into chasing unnecessary things while trying to create a social image which only contribute to our hubris. These stories suggest that these indeed are innate traits. So is this what really makes us human? In Diary Of A Madman our protagonist clerk who lives a clumsy life in solitude falls for his directors daughter. Its nebulous if his madness makes him love her or her love makes him mad. Eventually he imagines himself to be the King Of Spain who is being tortured by the English. In The Overcoat too a similar clerk protagonist living a reclusive life gets himself a new cloak, which gives new direction to his life, this cloak becomes to him the dearest & is the reason for his happiness. In both stories these clerks living a futile life search for a purpose to atone their existence. Isn't this, what we all are really doing? The Nose just left me enveloped in a veil of mist as to WTF was happening? But then the world is just nonsensical doodle-squat. Great intro to Gogol. Looking forward to read more of his works.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jimmakos Gavagias

    It's a very small book that can make you see what happens when unfulfilled desires take over your brain and control you till you become their slave

  26. 4 out of 5

    Asma Khadraoui

    I found this book to be by far one of the best practices of symbolism, reading about talking dogs and a walking nose may sound super crazy but that’s exactly what you’d expect from a book with such a title. It is after all the thoughts of a “madman”. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The themes portrayed in this book are all about loneliness, imprisonment, oppression and identity crisis. The stories are only simple on the surface, they do contain a lot of satire, realism and moral seriousness so reading them will mak I found this book to be by far one of the best practices of symbolism, reading about talking dogs and a walking nose may sound super crazy but that’s exactly what you’d expect from a book with such a title. It is after all the thoughts of a “madman”. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The themes portrayed in this book are all about loneliness, imprisonment, oppression and identity crisis. The stories are only simple on the surface, they do contain a lot of satire, realism and moral seriousness so reading them will make you wonder a lot. ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Another thing to mention here is the language and the style. While every story in this book is tragic in a way or another, the writing style is hugely comical. Also, the language is very simple and given that we are talking about a 19th century book, it would be impossible not to observe the narrative method. On the whole, this was a very quick and easy read. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Now a little bit about my favorite short story from this book which is The Overcoat; -no details- it is a simple written story that unfolds on so few pages, but it makes you feel intense emotions. You actually feel something of what the character is experiencing, plus the ending was really hard-hitting so it elevated the whole story for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Richardson

    I loved every word of these stories! My main complaint is that I wish there were more words! For example, I feel as though the short story Diary of a Madman could have been developed in much more depth. I would have enjoyed seeing the main characters' bizarre spiral into madness progress a little more slowly and subtly, Crime and Punishment style (but maybe not THAT slowly). Also, after the final sentence in Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and His Aunt I said out loud "what? ...oh" as it was a comicall I loved every word of these stories! My main complaint is that I wish there were more words! For example, I feel as though the short story Diary of a Madman could have been developed in much more depth. I would have enjoyed seeing the main characters' bizarre spiral into madness progress a little more slowly and subtly, Crime and Punishment style (but maybe not THAT slowly). Also, after the final sentence in Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and His Aunt I said out loud "what? ...oh" as it was a comically unsatisfying ending - although I suppose that really is perfectly fitting for the story. Apparently I did not actually read this addition, as my version included: --Diary of a Madman --The Nose --The Overcoat --How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich --Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and his Aunt I had previously read The Overcoat and The Nose in a separate collection... and I do find they belong in a book of their own as they sit on a much more extreme level of absurdity than the other stories. But I would recommend this compilation as an enchanting display of Gogol's unique style(s)!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Minh Lê

    Why those Russians are so obsessed with poverty and social status and acting so self-conscious! I saw Gogol pouring all over Dostoyevsky's pages.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    My first Gogol. Seems like a good little selection of his work. The stories were beautiful, and surprisingly funny in an absurdist way.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vusal Rasulzade

    i didn't like it much : 6/10

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