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Taras Bulba (Modern Library) [Paperback]

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2003 Modern Library
The First New Translation in Forty Years

Set sometime between the mid-sixteenth and early-seventeenth century, Gogol’s epic tale recounts both a bloody Cossack revolt against the Poles (led by the bold Taras Bulba of Ukrainian folk mythology) and the trials of Taras Bulba’s two sons.

As Robert Kaplan writes in his Introduction, “[Taras Bulba] has a Kiplingesque gusto . . . that makes it a pleasure to read, but central to its theme is an unredemptive, darkly evil violence that is far beyond anything that Kipling ever touched on. We need more works like Taras Bulba to better understand the emotional wellsprings of the threat we face today in places like the Middle East and Central Asia.” And the critic John Cournos has noted, “A clue to all Russian realism may be found in a Russian critic’s observation about Gogol: ‘Seldom has nature created a man so romantic in bent, yet so masterly in portraying all that is unromantic in life.’ But this statement does not cover the whole ground, for it is easy to see in almost all of Gogol’s work his ‘free Cossack soul’ trying to break through the shell of sordid today like some ancient demon, essentially Dionysian. So that his works, true though they are to our life, are at once a reproach, a protest, and a challenge, ever calling for joy, ancient joy, that is no more with us. And they have all the joy and sadness of the Ukrainian songs he loved so much.”


From the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library Inc; New edition edition (1 Dec 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812971191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812971194
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.3 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 96,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gogol's bloody classic 18 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
Nikolai Golgol's historical novel tells the story of a late sixteenth century Zaporozhian Cossack commander and his two sons. It is set in what is now Eastern Ukraine, an area that was then on the fringes of the Polish Empire. Taras Bulba, with the help of his sons, instigates a revolt against the Poles. Part of the old man's motivation is to ensure the survival of a warrior tradition in his people, and, more particularly, his sons. The narrative is drenched in the blood that flows from this decision. The prose has a simple, mythic quality that lifts it above the specific time and place of the narrative. This short, but epic, story gives us an insight into the mythology of Russia.

We see the consequences of Taras Bulba's obsession with his warrior's craft, when, on a rare visit to his home, his wife begs to be allowed some more time with her sons. Bulba disregards her wishes and the three set out on their campaign, leaving her weeping in their wake. In this scene, Gogol brilliantly encapsulates the irreconcilable tensions between a settled family life and his protagonist's desire for military glory. The Cossack Brotherhood is an all-male society, unmoderated by the influence of women. Later, the father and his sons spend time in an extraordinary warrior encampment, where itinerant Cossacks can meet and swap stories of their latest campaigns. The battle scenes in Taras Bulba do not stint from showing the terrible savagery of the fighting. The cost of the Cossacks' pride is a staggeringly high death toll for the Brotherhood.

A major theme of the book is the need to choose between love for a woman and loyalty to one's comrades. One of Bulba's sons falls in love with a Polish noblewoman and changes sides.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truly epic story 19 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback
TARAS BULBA provides a vivid portrayal of the Cossacks and their way of life before the modern times than any other novel we can think of. Centered on the Zaphorizhian Cossacks of Eastern Ukraine, the story deals with a father who in a bid to initiate his sons into the Cossack military way of life abandons his semi-retirement and rouses the passions of his people to confront the Polish overlords who were subjugating them. Fast flowing, deep and expressive without wasting time on sublimities, Gogol took us into a journey of Cossack wars that introduces us to their values, way of life, and colorful traditions. Unfortunately, Taras Bulba's warpath causes the loss of his favorite son who chose to rescue the Polish woman she loved, whose city was under siege by the troops his father was leading. TARAS BULBA is one of the many Russian stories such as Union Moujik, karamazov Brothers, Putin's Russia that provide a magnificent insight into the large Russian psyche.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Story 2 Aug 2005
Format:Paperback
TARAS BULBA provides a vivid portrayal of the Cossacks and their way of life before the modern times than any other novel we can think of. Centered on the Zaphorizhian Cossacks of Eastern Ukraine, the story deals with a father who in a bid to initiate his sons into the Cossack military way of life abandons his semi-retirement and rouses the passions of his people to confront the Polish overlords who were subjugating them. Fast flowing, deep and expressive without wasting time on sublimities Gogol took us into a journey of Cossack wars that introduces us to their values, way of life, and colorful traditions. Unfortunately, Taras Bulba's warpath causes the loss of his favorite son who chose to rescue the Polish woman she loved, whose city was under siege by the troops his father was leading. TARAS BULBA is one of the many Russian stories such as UNION MOUJIK, KARAMAZOV BROTHERS, and PUTIN'S RUSSIA that provide a magnificent insight into the large Russian psyche.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good intro to Russian literature 22 Mar 2009
By possum
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed reading this story very much however I only give it a 4 star rating as after reading the build up in the introduction the actual story was a bit of an anti climax. This though may be because of coming from a diet of english literatue I was expecting more passion from this book. still a good introduction to Russian literature.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic war novel 30 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This violent folktale of the Ukrainian Cossacks is a story of unremitting tribal loyalty.It maybe a short page turner of a book but it leaves a lasting impression.The Cossacks come accross as the Spartans of the steppes whose greatest honour is to serve and die for the Cossack cause,whatever that may be at the time.
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