I love Gogol. I love him when he is funny and I love him when he is sad. After reading Taras Bulba, I also love his "adventure" story. The book is decidedly anti-Semitic in tone but I think this is mostly a reflection of the subject matter. I see it as a kind of a show the demon for what it is. Russian society and especially the Cossacks were not the friendliest place for Jewish people. As is obvious in Taras Bulba, they also had little love for the Poles, the Turks and the Tartars. At this crossroads of the world, hatred was abundant. The fact that Gogol pulled no punches with his descriptions illustrates his honesty. Unfortunately, the Cossack mentality of either being with me or against me seems to inform the modern world as well.
What is really interesting for me is the comparison of Taras Bulba with And Quiet Flows the Don and Tolstoy's Cossacks. All three are very different illustrations of Cossack life, from bias but honorable villains in Gogol to stories of heroes in Tolstoy to Sholokov's sad demise of a way of life. Any way you look at it, the Cossacks are an interesting subject matter. So, that all being said, I suggest you read this book. It is short and fast and works on multiple levels.
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