The Mantle and Other Stories by Nikolai Gogol

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Gogol has made brilliantly colored pictures of his Zaporogues, which please by their very grotesqueness; but sometimes it is too evident that he has not drawn them from nature. Moreover, these character-pictures are framed in such a trivial and romantic setting that one regrets to see them so ill-placed. The most prosaic story would have suited them better than these melodramatic scenes in which are accumulated tragic incidents of famine, torture, etc. In short, one feels that the author is not at ease on the ground which he has chosen; his gait is awkward, and the invariable irony of his style makes the perusal of these melancholy incidents more painful. This style which, in my opinion, is quite out of place in some parts of "Taras Bulba," is much more appropriate in the "Viy," or "King of the Gnomes," a tale of witchcraft, which amuses and alarms at the same time. The grotesque easily blends with the marvelous. Recognizing to the full the poetic side of his subject, the author, while describing the savage and strange customs of the old-time Cossacks with his usual precision and exactitude, has easily prepared the way for the introduction of an element of uncanniness. -- From Prosper Merimée's Preface to this volume.


About Nikolai Gogol

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Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol was born in 1809 in the Ukraine. His father was an amateur playwright who had a small estate with a number of serfs. From the ages of 12 to 19, young Gogol attended a boarding school where he became known for his sharp wit and ability to amuse his classmates. After school he worked as a government clerk. He soon began writing memories of his childhood. His quaint depictions of the Ukrainian countryside marked his style and helped to make him famous. Gogol quickly gained fame and formed a friendship with the influential poet, Aleksandr Pushkin. Gogol is largely remembered for his realistic characterizations, his rich imagination, and his humorous style. His works include Mirgorod, a collection of short stories including Taras Bulba. Gogol's wit is evident in his short story, The Nose, where a man's nose wanders off around town in a carriage. Gogol's masterpiece is the novel Dead Souls. In this work, a swindler plots to buy from landowners their dead serfs. Towards the end of Gogol's life, his creative powers faded and he fled to Moscow. Here, he came under the power of a fanatical priest. Ten days before his death he burned some manuscripts of the second part of Dead Souls. He died of starvation in 1852, on the cusp of madness.
Published July 29, 2009 by Library of Alexandria. 173 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, History, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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