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The Diary of a Madman, the Government Inspector, and Selected Stories (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 25, 2006
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About the Author
Diary of a Madman and The Story of the Quarrel between Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan Nikiforovich appeared in 1934, The Nose in 1836, and The Overcoat in 1842. Gogol also wrote the play The Inspector (1836), Dead Souls (1842), and several moralizing essays defending the Tsarist regime, to the horror of his liberal and radical friends. He lived a great deal abroad, mostly in Rome, and in his last years became increasingly prey to religious mania and despair. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1848, but was bitterly disappointed in the lack of feeling that the journey kindled. He returned to Russia and fell under the influence of a spiritual director who told him to destroy his writings as they were sinful. He burned the second part of Dead Souls, and died in 1852 after subjecting himself to a severe regime of fasting.
Ronald Wilks studied Russian language and literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, and later Russian literature at London University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1972. He has also translated ‘The Little Demon’ by Sologub and, for Penguin Classics, My Childhood, My Apprenticeship, and My Universities by Gorky, The Golovlyov Family by Saltykov-Shchedrin and four volumes of stories by Chekhov: The Kiss and Other Stories, The Duel and Other Stories, The Party and Other Stories, and The Fiancée and Other Stories.
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Top Customer Reviews
I bought both and have no regrets. The present book has two good features: it has a better introduction by Robert Maguire plus it has the play, The Government Inspector. And according to Nabokov, and it is hard to argue with him, that play is the best Russian play ever written. This is a 1972 translation, revised in 2005.
So, it has only 8 stories, but the book does contain an impressive introduction by Maguire, professor from Columbia University, international scholar, now passed away. The present book contains 7 stories translated by Wilks, the introduction by Maguire, plus the play. None of the stories are much over 50 pages and some are shorter. They are good examples of the writings and the literary techniques of Gogol. He is an extremely complex writer and one must read the analysis to appreciate the subtle features and nuances in his writings.
Two stories are from "the Ukrainian Tales" and five from the "Petersburg Tales," and as pointed out by Maguire, that is an editorial division only of Gogol's works, not a division created by Gogol. The former stories from the Ukraine include his use of witches and the devil.
Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852, Ukraine-Russia) is one the best known Russian writers. His masterpiece is Dead Souls. It is a charming and a highly entertaining novel about a man touring Russian farms by horse and buggy in the early 19th century. In addition, Gogol has approximately 19 well known short stories plus non-fiction writings.Read more ›
The collection includes:
Ivan Fyodorvich Shponka and His Aunt-This delightful gem tells the tale of Ivan who is a retired Russian Army officer. He spends his days with his masculine and domineering aunt on a large estate in the Ukraine. Shponka is shy failing to court a fetching beauty on a nearby estate. Gogol is a word artist who is able to paint the scene of a rural Russia where peasants and landowners go about their humdrum lives. The story reminds me of a tale which could have been written by Anton Chekhov.
How Ivan Ivanonich quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich-This is the bittersweet, sometimes humorous, tale of two old friends who are estate owners. They quarrel over Ivanonich's eagerness to be given a beautiful rifle owned by Nikiforovich. Their dispute ends up in a law court where a rebellious pig eats court documents! The story is narrated by an invented character. A memorable and excellent piece of short fiction!
Nevsky Prospect-Located in St. Petersburg this tale deals with a man who is a dreamer. It is surreal in parts and is evocative of life in mid nineteenth century St. Petersburg dubbed "The Paris of the North." One of Gogol's greatest short stories;often anthologized.
The Nose-An asburdist tale in which a Nose leaves the face of a minor government official only to return to his face as the story concludes. It is a satire on Russian government and the human desire to win fame and prestige by holding office. A precursor to Kafka in its absurdist and disorienting story.
The Overcoat-The tragic tale of a little clerk who is very poor.Read more ›
I have long struggled to understand the Russian mentality (i.e. why their government is so corrupt and hurts the people so much) and I find Gogol's works to be helpful insight into the "thinking" of ordinary Russians.
And, yes, he does this with humor.
John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
if you've never read Gogol before, prepare to laugh, ache and to be intellectually stimulated, all at once.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There's no denying that Gogol's work is brilliant, and I'm sure that the translation works for some readers, but I found it grating and awkward. Read morePublished 2 months ago by tony mancill
'The Diary of a Madman' especially caught my attention - partly because it is by far the best known of the works contained in this collection, and partly because my own life... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Loyd Eskildson
Oh my goodness! Terrific. Funny. Revealing, touching, devastating. Gogol is a Master!Published 13 months ago by harvey hadley
The DIARY OF A MAD MAN is an insightful story by Gogol that is full of humor, sadness, tragedy and hope. Read morePublished on January 19, 2014 by John T C
Loved it, was looking for "The Diary of a Madman" to study for university, it seemed to be an added bonus that I found that and a collection of his other stories all in one volume! Read morePublished on August 15, 2012 by Ben Moltzer