I’m not doing so great with the concept of drawing a random card. For one, having a library book with a return date is not conducive to this challenge. Also, if I like a story in the collection, I want to read more, usually the rest of the collection. So, I am changing the challenge up a bit and post another “batch” of updates.
This week, my copy of the collection of stories by Gogol was due back at the library. I have previously posted about my reading of The Overcoat, but I also read another story by Gogol that wasn’t on my original list, just because I really enjoyed his work.:
|♦︎ 10||The Nose||Nicolai Gogol||The Overcoat and Other Short Stories|
|♦︎ 9||The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich||Nicolai Gogol||The Overcoat and Other Short Stories|
|♦︎ 8||Old-Fashioned Farmers||Nicolai Gogol||The Overcoat and Other Short Stories|
So, one of the things that became clear to me reading Gogol’s stories is that I would have loved to have read his stories side by side with Kafka’s when I was in my Kafka phase.
Where Kafka is mostly about angsty nightmares, and the impotence of any individual to do anything, Gogol uses similar techniques of absurdism but adds humor to satirise whatever he is describing.
Having encountered his short stories, I really want to read Dead Souls.
As the stories I picked:
The Nose – This was hilarious. I had no idea what the story was about but the concept and the execution of the story actually made me laugh. I loved it. Sure, it is a fine example of satire of how anyone or anything can climb the career ladder in the Russian civil service, but also it was just really funny.
The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich – Both satire and a moral tale of how a simple insult can ruin several lives. This was poignant and sad more than anything, but I liked the simple way in which the story is told.
Old-Fashioned Farmers – Another story set in rural Ukraine and told in simple terms, this story was very similar to the story if the two Ivans, but instead of looking at a personal insult as the catalyst for tragedy, this story looks at how careless words belittling something that someone else feels strongly about can have the same effect. I liked it. While it was similar to the story of the two Ivans, this story also showed the sad way that farming is lost due to lack of knowledge and lack of care and how this spirals communities that were previously self-sufficient into serfdom and destitution.
I also managed to read this additional story:
Diary of a Madman – This was quite different. Whatever humor or satire might have been hinted at in the first diary entries, were soon overshadowed by the concern for the diarists mental state. This was a descent into hell … or some form of mental illness that reminded me much of Bartleby, the Scrivener (but describing a different mental illness)
Glad you enjoyed these. I’d guess you’ll like Dead Souls too then…
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I think I will get something out of Dead Souls, but I am both dreading and am intrigued by the concept of Gogol taking on Dante in Dead Souls.
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