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The Mantle and Other Stories   By: (1809-1852)

The Mantle and Other Stories by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

First Page:

[ Transcriber's Notes:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation. Some corrections of spelling have been made. They are listed at the end of the text.

Italic text has been marked with underscores . ]

THE MANTLE AND OTHER STORIES

Printed in Great Britain

THE MANTLE AND OTHER STORIES

BY NICHOLAS GOGOL

AUTHOR OF "DEAD SOULS," "TARAS BULBA," ETC.

TRANSLATED BY CLAUD FIELD

AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION ON GOGOL BY PROSPER MERIMÉE

New York: FREDERICK A. STOKES Co. London: T. WERNER LAURIE LIMITED

"Gogol, Nikolai Vassilievitch. Born in the government of Pultowa, March 31 (N.S.), 1809, died at Moscow, March 4 (N.S.), 1852. A Russian novelist and dramatist. He was educated in a public gymnasium at Pultowa, and subsequently in the lyceum, then newly established, at Niejinsk. In 1831 he was appointed teacher of history at the Patriotic Institution, a place which he exchanged in 1834 for the professorship of history in the University of St Petersburg. This he resigned at the end of a year and devoted himself entirely to literature. In 1836 Gogol left Russia. He lived most of the time in Rome. In 1837 he wrote 'Dead Souls.' In 1840 he went to Russia for a short period in order to superintend the publication of the first volume of 'Dead Souls,' and then returned to Italy. In 1846 he returned to Russia and fell into a state of fanatical mysticism. One of his last acts was to burn the manuscript of the concluding portion of 'Dead Souls,' which he considered harmful. He also wrote 'The Mantle,' 'Evenings at the Farm,' 'St Petersburg Stories,' 'Taras Bulba,' a tale of the Cossacks, 'The Revizor,' a comedy, etc." From The Century Cyclopædia of Names .

CONTENTS

PAGE

PREFACE 7

THE MANTLE 19

THE NOSE 67

MEMOIRS OF A MADMAN 107

A MAY NIGHT 141

THE VIY 187

PREFACE

As a novel writer and a dramatist, Gogol appears to me to deserve a minute study, and if the knowledge of Russian were more widely spread, he could not fail to obtain in Europe a reputation equal to that of the best English humorists.

A delicate and close observer, quick to detect the absurd, bold in exposing, but inclined to push his fun too far, Gogol is in the first place a very lively satirist. He is merciless towards fools and rascals, but he has only one weapon at his disposal irony. This is a weapon which is too severe to use against the merely absurd, and on the other hand it is not sharp enough for the punishment of crime; and it is against crime that Gogol too often uses it. His comic vein is always too near the farcical, and his mirth is hardly contagious. If sometimes he makes his reader laugh, he still leaves in his mind a feeling of bitterness and indignation; his satires do not avenge society, they only make it angry.

As a painter of manners, Gogol excels in familiar scenes. He is akin to Teniers and Callot. We feel as though we had seen and lived with his characters, for he shows us their eccentricities, their nervous habits, their slightest gestures. One lisps, another mispronounces his words, and a third hisses because he has lost a front tooth. Unfortunately Gogol is so absorbed in this minute study of details that he too often forgets to subordinate them to the main action of the story. To tell the truth, there is no ordered plan in his works, and a strange trait in an author who sets up as a realist he takes no care to preserve an atmosphere of probability. His most carefully painted scenes are clumsily connected they begin and end abruptly; often the author's great carelessness in construction destroys, as though wantonly, the illusion produced by the truth of his descriptions and the naturalness of his conversations.

The immortal master of this school of desultory but ingenious and attractive story tellers, among whom Gogol is entitled to a high place, is Rabelais, who cannot be too much admired and studied, but to imitate whom nowadays would, I think, be dangerous and difficult... Continue reading book >>




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