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Diary of a Madman, The Government Inspector, & Selected Stories (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Nikolay Gogol , Robert Maguire , Ronald Wilks
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2005 Penguin Classics

Nikolai Gogol's short fiction, collected here as The Diary of a Madman, The Government Inspector and Selected Stories, deeply influenced later Russian literature with powerful depictions of a society dominated by petty bureaucracy and base corruption. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with notes by Ronald Wilks, and an introduction by Robert A. Maguire.

This volume includes a selection of Gogol's most admired short fiction and his most famous drama. A hilarious and biting political satire, 'The Government Inspector' has been popular since its first performance and was regarded by Nabokov as the greatest Russian play ever written. The stories gathered here, meanwhile, range from comic to tragic and describe the isolated lives of low-ranking clerks, lunatics and swindlers. They include 'Diary of a Madman', an amusing but disturbing exploration of insanity; 'Nevsky Prospect', a depiction of an artist infatuated with a prostitute; and 'The Overcoat', a moving consideration of poverty.

Edited and translated by Ronald Wilks, this new collection of Gogol's shorter writings skilfully captures the savage wit of the original works. Robert Maguire's introduction considers recurrent themes and explores Gogol's influence on realism. This edition also includes detailed notes, a publishing history for each story and a chronology.

Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) was born in the Ukraine. His experience of St Petersburg life informed a savagely satirical play, The Government Inspector, and a series of brilliant short stories including Nevsky Prospekt and Diary of a Madman. For over a decade, Gogol laboured on his comic epic Dead Souls - before renouncing literature and burning parts of the manuscript shortly before he died.

If you enjoyed The Diary of a Madman, you might like Anton Chekhov's The Steppe and Other Stories, also available in Penguin Classics.

'Everything he started to imagine transformed itself and began to wriggle with life'

A.S. Byatt, author of Possession


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Diary of a Madman, The Government Inspector, & Selected Stories (Penguin Classics) + Dead Souls (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (1 Dec 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449075
  • Product Dimensions: 18.3 x 14.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Gogol, Nikolay Vasilyevich (1809-52), Russian writer, whose plays, short stories, and novels rank among the great masterpieces of 19th-century Russian realist literature.

Ronald Wilks has translated many Russian works of literature including, for Penguin, those of Gorky, Sologub, Tolstoy, and Pushkin, and most recently, three volumes of Chekhov's stories and his short novel, The Shooting Party.

Robert A Maguire is Professor and Head of Department at Columbia University. He is the author of several books about Russian literature and the prize-winning translator of Petersburg by Andrei Bely (Indiana UP, 1979) and most recently, for Penguin, of Gogol's Dead Souls.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection 21 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
Gogol is a fricking genius. I got this book for my birthday and it has served as my 'introduction' to Gogol, and it is brilliant - magical realism, humour, satire... just incredible. I thoroughly recommend this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction to Gogol 5 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
I had only read 'The Overcoat' before and was looking for more of Gogol's short stories. This book had a great selection and the play was also a good addition. Comparing to some other Russian works I have read, the translation here was excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good introduction to Gogol 4 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback
I had never read Gogol but after reading this collection, I became an absolut fan. It contains one short story from the collection "Evenings On a Farm Near Dikanka", one from "Mirgorod" collection and 6 from the editorial cycle "Tales of St. Petersburg. The latter are absolutly magnificent, as is the play "the Goverment Inspector". This collection's only flaw is that it does not include "The Portrait"(from the Petersburg cycle), but it remains however an amazing introduction to Gogol's work. After reading this collection I was bent on collecting all of Gogol's oeuvre. I must say that the Petersburg cycle is undoubitly Gogol's most accomplished work, however I strongly recomend reading "Dead Souls" - a hilarious and satirical depiction of Russia's landowners, govermment officials and petit burgeousie- and "Evenings On a Farm Near Dikanka" - amusing tales of horror and Ukranian folklore, although the latter appears to be quite hard to obtain in english - I was very fortunate and happy to find it was published in Portuguese, my native tongue).
if you've never read Gogol before, prepare to laugh, ache and to be intellectually stimulated, all at once.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Truth or Farce 26 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well written and well translated. The basic story is simple but it is the insight into what we are led to believe is the motivation of the community. It is a matter for the reader to consider the purpose of the Author, is he really suggesting this is a true depiction of small town mechanics, a parody of the truth, a tilt at the rigid caste system, or just a pleasant farce.. Who knows ?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 9 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Brilliant book, I recommend it to others more than I do any other book. If you are reading this you must be considering it.. BUY IT!
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