Dead Souls

      Nikolai Gogol
Dead Souls

Since its publication in 1842, Dead Souls has been celebrated as a supremely realistic portrait of provincial Russian life and as a splendidly exaggerated tale; as a paean to the Russian spirit and as a remorseless satire of imperial Russian venality, vulgarity, and pomp. As Gogol's wily antihero, Chichikov, combs the back country wheeling and dealing for "dead souls"--deceased serfs who still represent money to anyone sharp enough to trade in them--we are introduced to a Dickensian cast of peasants, landowners, and conniving petty officials, few of whom can resist the seductive illogic of Chichikov's proposition. This lively, idiomatic English version by the award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky makes accessible the full extent of the novel's lyricism, sulphurous humor, and delight in human oddity and error.

Read online

    The Night Before Christmas

      Nikolai Gogol
The Night Before Christmas

Gogol's classic, uproarious folktale, presented in a beautiful hardcover edition perfect for giving as a gift.

Written in 1831, this dark tale relates the adventures of Vakula, the blacksmith, in his fight against the devil, who has stolen the moon above the village of Dikanka and is wreaking havoc on its inhabitants, all to win the love of the most beautiful girl in town. The basis for many film and opera adaptations, and still a story traditionally read aloud to children on Christmas Eve in Ukraine and Russia, The Night Before Christmas is the best holiday tale by the man whom Vladimir Nabokov called 'the greatest writer Russia has yet produced'.

Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was the son of a Ukrainian gentleman farmer. He attended a variety of boarding schools, where he proved an indifferent student but was admired for his theatrical abilities. In 1828 he moved to St. Petersburg and began to publish stories, and by the mid-1830s he had established himself in the literary world and been warmly praised by Pushkin. In 1836, his play The Inspector-General was attacked as immoral, and he left Russia, remaining abroad for most of the next dozen years. During that time he wrote two of his best-known stories, 'The Nose' and 'The Overcoat,' and in 1842 he published the first section of his masterpiece Dead Souls. Gogol became increasingly religious as the years passed, and in 1847 he became the disciple of an Orthodox priest who influenced him to burn the second part of Dead Souls and then abandon writing altogether. After undertaking an extreme fast, he died at the age of forty-two.

Read online

    The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol

      Nikolai Gogol
The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol

When Pushkin first read some of the stories in this collection, he declared himself "amazed."  "Here is real gaiety," he wrote, "honest, unconstrained, without mincing, without primness. And in places what poetry! . . . I still haven't recovered."

More than a century and a half later, Nikolai Gogol's stories continue to delight readers the world over. Now a stunning new translation--from an award-winning team of translators--presents these stories in all their inventive, exuberant glory to English-speaking readers. For the first time, the best of Gogol's short fiction is brought together in a single volume: from the colorful Ukrainian tales that led some critics to call him "the Russian Dickens" to the Petersburg stories, with their black humor and wonderfully demented attitude toward the powers that be. All of Gogol's most memorable creations are here: the minor official who misplaces his nose, the downtrodden clerk whose life is changed by the acquisition of a splendid new overcoat, the wily madman who becomes convinced that a dog can tell him everything he needs to know.

These fantastic, comic, utterly Russian characters have dazzled generations of readers and had a profound influence on writers such as Dostoevsky and Nabokov. Now they are brilliantly rendered in the first new translation in twenty-five years--one that is destined to become the definitive edition of Gogol's most important stories.

Read online

    How the Two Ivans Quarrelled

      Nikolai Gogol
How the Two Ivans Quarrelled

"How dared you, in disregard of all decency, call me a goose?"

This lesser-known work is perhaps the perfect distillation of Nikolai Gogol’s genius: a tale simultaneously animated by a joyful, nearly slapstick sense of humor alongside a resigned cynicism about the human condition.

In a sharp-edged translation from John Cournos, an under-appreciated early translator of Russian literature into English, How The Two Ivans Quarreled is the story of two long-time friends who have a falling out when one of them calls the other a “goose.” From there, the argument intensifies and the escalation becomes more and more ludicrous. Never losing its generous antic spirit, the story nonetheless transitions from whither a friendship, to whither humanity, as it progresses relentlessly to its moving conclusion.

**The Art of The Novella Series

**Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.

Read online

    The Inspector-General

      Nikolai Gogol
The Inspector-General

Although it may read to modern audiences like a hilarious slapstick comedy, The Inspector-General is actually much more than that. Famed Russian writer Nikolai Gogol intended it to be a veiled but pointed satire of the ineptitude, corruption, and greed that exemplified the Russian bureaucracy in the nineteenth century. The witty play was later used as the basis for a movie version starring Danny Kaye (1949).

Read online