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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 13 July 2005
This excellent collection contains, among other excellent works, three towering masterpieces - the short stories 'The Nose' and 'The Overcoat', and the play 'The Government Inspector' which is currently being performed in a modernized version on the London stage. 'The Nose' and 'The Government Inspector' are both very funny, which is perhaps the most surprising thing when you approach them as Russian literature, which can be intimidating to some readers, and isn't known for its humour. 'The Overcoat' on the other hand, is a tragic, perfectly formed little story, which Dostoyevsky said had hugely influenced all the great nineteenth century Russian writers after Gogol.
Without giving too much away about the blackly comic and absurdist story 'The Nose', the basic premise is that a vain, ambitious official wakes up one morning to discover that his nose has disappeared. It is later spotted out and about in St Petersburg, taking carriages and attending functions. This simple, silly little story works on many levels and any number of themes and inferences can be seen in it. Although I personally love Carver, Chekhov, etc, I think this is the greatest short story I have ever read.
This collection is worth recommending for its clear and readable English translations, and the fact that it has the stories published by Penguin Classics, plus Gogol's plays. Recommended for all readers looking for a rewarding, complex, unusual read.
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Plays and Petersburg Tales: Petersburg Tales, Marriage, The Government Inspector (Oxford World's Classics)
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