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Diary of a Madman (Classics) [Paperback]

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol , Ronald Wilks , R. Wilkes
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Sep 1972 Classics
Illuminates the Russian writer's thoughts on madness, bureaucracy, and illusion in these five tales.

Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Reprint edition (28 Sep 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140442731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442731
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.9 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a depressing world, gentlemen. 9 Sep 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thankfully we have the genuine genius of Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol to guide us through life's petty squabbles, absurdities and disappointments. This collection of some of his most loved stories are the perfect introduction into the underrated master of Russian literature as they present the reader with accessible, familiar characters in situations we can all relate to. Gogol does not present us with the grand sweep of events like Tolstoy, nor does he wrestle with familial conflict as does Turgenev, but gives us those vital issues that none can resist and all indulge in: petty gossip and irrational grievance.

The first story in this collection is the sublime DIARY OF A MADMAN which for me gives more of an insight into mental illness than just about any other book (fiction or fact) I can think of as we are submerged into the distorted reality of the pathetic Akaky Akakievich who goes from humble document copier to (imaginary) king of Spain. You will laugh out loud at some of Akaky's assertions (Letters are trash! Only chemists write letters!), wonder at some of his revelations (the Spain/China conundrum) and wince as he mistakes "therapy" in the mental asylum for the initiation rituals of the Spanish court. More importantly, Gogol will tear your heart as poor Akaky has a moment of clarity and realises what is really happening to him, before he nails the story with a killer joke final line.

Next up is the surreal THE NOSE, which many hail as his greatest short sotry but I found it a little too surreal for my taste. However, there's no doubting the quality of the writing and a quick scan of the spoiler introduction will explain the true meaning behind the tale.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Classic 2 Aug 2005
The DIARY OF A MAD MAN is an insightful story by Gogol that is full of humor, sadness, tragedy and hope. The literary style is first class and fully exposes the inner turmoil of a man with a conflict in his soul. HOUSE OF THE DEAD, UNION MOUJIK, POOR FOLKS, explore that depth of human suffering that leads to depravity for individuals or groups of people.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius of St. Petersburg absurdity 29 Jun 1999
By A Customer
"The Diary Of A Madman", first published in 1834, belongs amongst Gogol's St. Petersburg stories. Also ibcluded are "The Nose" and "The Overcoat", which represent the peak of Gogol's achievement. The St. Petersburg stories all deal with the diabolical and nightmarish world of Tsarist Russia's capital city. Gogol depicts individuals isolated in an artificial city, built upon 101 marshy islands and staring out at the Baltic sea. This is a city where reality does not apply, and humanity is suffocated beneath an impersonal bureaucratic hierarchy. The events described are extraordinary in nature, yet told in a matter-of-fact way, which makes Gogol's work a masterpiece of comical absurdity. My favourite story is "The Nose".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good bunch of stories 23 Nov 2008
A generally good collection of short stories:

Diary of a Madman - hilariously funny at first, but more tragic at the end as the narrator's insanity comes into full force.

The Nose - ridiculous, yet somehow charmingly funny. This is usually reckoned to be his short story masterpiece, but I prefer Diary and Overcoat.

The Overcoat - another funny story, but with a sad and pathetic end

How Ivan Ivanovich quarelled with Ivan Nikiforovich - some amusing dialogue between two friends who fall out, but otherwise rather tiresome and overlong.

Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and his Aunt - mildly amusing but inconsequential
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