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Nikolai Gogol

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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  867 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
The work of Gogol—one of the very greatest of Russia's literary geniuses—has become fairly well known in America but has seldom been properly understood. There have been many bad, but a few good, translations of his work available in English, and critics have often tended to put labels on him, to make him out "the Russian Dickens" or a forerunner of our own literary champi ...more
Paperback, Corrected edition, 172 pages
Published January 17th 1961 by New Directions (first published 1944)
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Jan-Maat
Really quite fun, but with hindsight more interesting maybe about what it doesn't say, than what it does. This is Gogol imagined as though he was a Nabokov character, so no discussion of Gogol as a fellow craftsman nor does Nabokov allow any light to be cast on his own writing, I don't think he wrote on other Russian authors so one suspects that a connection existed or some bond of the surreal linked them, although Nabokov obviously isn't going to make anything plain - the reader has to solve th ...more
Giovanna
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
«Vera poesia di quel tipo provoca non risa, non lacrime, ma un sorriso radioso di perfetta soddisfazione, e fusa di beatitudine; e uno scrittore può essere davvero orgoglioso di sé se riesce a far sì che i suoi lettori o, più esattamente, alcuni suoi lettori sorridano e facciano le fusa a quel modo.»

Vale per Gogol', ma vale anche per Nabokov: il suo Nikolaj Gogol' è decisamente un saggio che dà soddisfazione. Intelligente, profondo, non scade mai nella generalizzazione o nella banalità, e, sopra
...more
Steven
Gogol was a strange creature, but genius is always strange; it is only your healthy second-rater who seems to the grateful reader to be a wise old friend, nicely developing the reader's own notions of life.
This quotation nicely characterizes Nikolai Gogol, which is in roughly equal measures about Gogol, Gogol's artistic genius (separated and separable from his person), and Nabokov himself. It is not a biography; at least not in the traditional sense. That Nabokov doesn't mention Gogol's date o
...more
Domenico Fina
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magistrale saggio alla sua maniera. Nabokov quando trova un autore congeniale, Gogol' e Puskin o Anna Karenina come singolo libro, riesce a dare il meglio di sé. In questo saggio illumina le tre opere maggiori di Gogol', Il cappotto, Il revisore e Le anime morte e allo stesso tempo scrive un bellissimo saggio sull'essenziale nella letteratura e sul guardarsi bene dalla retorica pervasiva.

Gogol', nelle sue massime opere, Il cappotto, Le anime morte, Il revisore, non elabora storie avvincenti, a
...more
Jim Coughenour
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nabokov's strong opinions about Gogol were welcome company when reading Dead Souls, pointing out swift bits of artistry that I missed on my own. One can't help but see how much his own fiction (and criticism) were influenced by the wizardry of Gogol, even when he's describing Gogol himself:
His boyhood? Uninteresting. He passed through the usual illnesses: mumps, scarlet fever and pueritus scribendi. He was a weakling, a trembling mouse of a boy, with dirty hands and greasy locks, and pus trickli
...more
Ivan Dimitrov
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Страхотна книга на Набоков за Гогол. Като изключим, че по традиция когато Набоков говори за други автори, той е страшно надут и понякога ти се иска да му удариш един чимбер...
Книгата е написана нетрадиционно и е нещо между биография и критически преглед върху живота и творчеството на Гогол. Започва със смъртта му и завършва с раждането му. Набоков разглежда най-вече зрелите му произведения.

Обърнато е сериозно внимание и на дразнещите митове, които са свързани с името на Гогол. Като това, че той
...more
Carloesse
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Con la sua prosa perfetta, direi quasi sontuosa, Nabokov rilegge Gogol e lo libera dai tanti luoghi comuni in cui la critica (e da lì l'opinione generale) lo ha spesso ingabbiato per motivi ideologici (politici, morali o religiosi che fossero), per rendercelo così come fu: un grandissimo (uno dei massimi in assoluto) scrittore finchè l’esigenza di essere se stesso e di dare libero sfogo alla fantasia che madre natura gli aveva copiosamente donato riuscì ad avere il sopravvento sull’immagine che ...more
Eric Hendrixson
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
As an introduction to Gogol, this book would be next to useless. Nabokov wrote this book with the assumption that the reader has already read at least Gogol's major works. (And what Nabokov dismisses as Gogol's minor works and not worth discussing are considered by some to be his most important writings.) This book is also not very useful to someone who has read a good deal of Gogol and no Nabokov. However, to someone who has read both authors, this is a fascinating text, maybe a necessary text. ...more
Trevor Wilson
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you love Nabokov and love Gogol', you will love this book. If you love Nabokov and don't like Gogol', you will like this book. If you hate Nabokov but love Gogol', don't read this book.
Cosimo
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Così invece di spegnersi lentamente in una cappella di legno tra ascetici abeti sulla riva di un lago leggendario, Cicikov fu riportato al suo elemento nativo: le fiammelle azzurre di un umile inferno".

Linguisticamente ricchissimo, con un'ibridazione elaborata in modo sofisticato e efficace, questo testo apre importanti prospettive sull'arte di Gogol e sulla poetica di Nabokov, offrendo riflessioni sulla letteratura che vanno oltre la maschera delle funzioni e degli obiettivi delle opere d'arte
...more
Adam Floridia
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nabokov
Nabokov was a genius. Nabokov was supremely confident in his own genius. However, this is the first time that his arrogance bothered me. In this "biography" (I really hesitate to use that word) of Gogol, Nabokov spends as much time praising his own translations (and deriding others'), inserting obscure (or at least unnecessary) literary references, explicating his understanding of "poshlust," and creating some beautifully worded, but Meaningless!, sentences.

I know little more about Gogol or his
...more
Alexander
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Some seriously sassy shit, Gogol is Nabokov writing at his aristocratic best, weaving strands of pale anecdotes and poised aesthetics into superstructures of simple, sublime bliss. So many great moments - from the first to the last sentence the charm of his style never withers, and so it went with the dumb grin on my face too. Some of the favorites:

The old translations of 'Dead Souls' into English are absolutely worthless and should be expelled from all public and university libraries.

Because Go
...more
Matt
Feb 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, lit-crit

Balls-out, imaginative and totally biased litcrit from the master. I love this kind of thing and I wish more people shed the disinterested facade and brought us as far into the mind and heart of the artist's work as they dare to go.
Merilee
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The inimitable Nabokov waxes lyrical and satirical about the inimitable Gogol. I read this previously about 40 (!) years ago, and enjoyed it just as much this time through. A short and delicious read.
Elena Sala
This is an idiosyncratic, short biography of Nikolai Gogol. Actually, it is a combination of biography and literary criticism.

On the downside, Nabokov focuses only on DEAD SOULS, THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR and "The Overcoat". The rest of Gogol's oeuvre is dismissed. He also indulges in very, very long quotes and sometimes reveals too much of the plot.

I must confess that some of his comments were completely beyond me:
"The prose of Pushkin is three-dimensional; that of Gogol is four-dimensional, a
...more
landon
I swore to take a break from Nabokov after handing in my thesis, then promptly broke my oath when I remembered this slim volume on my desk. Its greyscale picture of Nikolai Gogol stares at you with one eye while the other cubistically folds over the book’s spine. His face is soft and serene, his lips smiling faintly under a modest moustache, his pale nose hanging over it, mostly unremarkable. Like most of Nabokov’s prose, this book’s paragraphs feel neat, light, and well coordinated. They make u ...more
Cailin Deery
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
This took me an era to finish. I wouldn’t recommend picking this up unless you are already familiar with Gogol’s work - especially Dead Souls, The Overcoat and The Government Inspector. You shouldn’t depend on Nabokov to give you a summary or bibliography of his work (although his publisher insisted on it, so he does slip it in at the very end – worth referencing earlier). Nabokov assumes not only a familiarity, but a critical understanding of Gogol’s work. Needless to say, I trailed behind for ...more
Vijeta
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had only read Gogol's The Overcoat before dipping into this book, but I think I've surfaced with an understanding of the writer which many of the more 'relevant' biographies wouldn't have provided. This isn't precisely a biography, but more in the nature of notes/reflections/commentary on Russian literature, Gogol, and translation of Russian classics into English. Beginning with Gogol's death, the book ends with his birth. There follows in the beginning a description of Gogol's nose, and that ...more
John
Sep 02, 2014 rated it liked it
A 3.5

This was a strange read for me. I have never read a book by one beloved author giving his thoughts on another beloved author before. I love Gogol and Nabokov, so it was a bit surreal.

For most of the first half of the book, Nabokov seems jaded, angry, and looking for a soap box. I would be too if I was forced to flee Russia, Germany, then France for fear of the government. Nabokov’s English career had yet to take off. He was practically starting from square one again.

Nabokov expresses the
...more
k
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Loving Gogol helps. I'm not sure what the fun would be without having read at least two of the three discussed works. It's the perfect length, and does a good job explaining (or at least exposing) Gogol's magic (though I'm not sure any modern reader who had never heard of Gogol would fall for the "realism" or "satire" angle without being prepped on it beforehand, and let's be honest, no one is anymore) without trying too hard to grip it. It was my first exposure to Nabokov, and he comes off as a ...more
Jana
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the best biographies I have ever read. It's worth reading how he tries to explain the meaning of the Russian word 'POSH'LOST' which is not easy, as it falls between 'cheesy and banal'. He does with with swimming germans and swans - find out how!
Edmond Dantes
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chicca imperdibile sia per amanti di Nabokov che per amanti di Gogol, utile soprattutto a non farsi abbinfolare dai "facili" esperti di Gogol (casualmente ne ho sentito uno questa mattina...)
Nikolay Nikiforov
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's curious metaphysics at work here, one that reminds one of Tarot cards of Aleister Crowley
Emma
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Self-indulgently Nabokovian to the core.
Günay
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kütüphaneden ödünç alırken ne ile karşılacağımı bilmiyordum. En kötü ihtimalle aynı zamanda profosör filan olan Nabokov'un ciddi bir incelemesini okur, bir yazarın diğer yazara bakışını görmekten keyif alırım düşüncesindeydim.
Jan-Maat'ın değerlendirmesi yazılabilecek pek çok şeyi yazmış, ben yine de bir iki tekrar cümlesi kurayım.
Umduğumdan çok daha farklı çıktı. İki üç romanını yarıda bıraktığım Nabokov daha başından, bıraktığım romanlarında yarım yamalak görebildiğim kişiliğini ortaya koyuyo
...more
Brooke Salaz
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How does a great writer read/appreciate another great writer? Here we have one way and it's a wonderful journey. Nabokov makes all facile would be appreciators of the mind and work of deeply strange Nikolai Gogol blush and stammer apologetically. We get a sense of how Gogol's artistry was at odds with his wish to provide an edifying message to the masses but in his greatest works his genius won out. This tension was present throughout his brief life. It was only toward his end when he was strugg ...more
Katherine
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"...(from one of Gogol's letters to a young lady--hence the archness)" (3).
"The Neva flooding the town had already been a kind of dim mythological vengeance (as Pushkin put it)" (11).
"No wonder St. Petersburg revealed its oddity when the oddest Russian in Russia walked its streets" (12).
"...one of those passages which fairly burst with little people tumbling out and scattering all over the page (or straddling Gogol's pen like a witch riding a broomstick)..." (84).
"When the critic Pogodin's wife
...more
Kay
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nabokov on Gogol

An odd mixture of biography and literary criticism. Nabokov praises Gogol while trashing most translators and critics.
He sees Gogol's unique genius as having nothing to do with social critique and everything to do with seeing the depth of the human soul.
The Fat
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
If you like Gogol and Nabokov this is a fun read. Definitely improved my opinion of Gogol even more.
Adrian
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
My rating would be higher if I have read Dead Souls, The Overcoat and The Inspector General before. I might do it because of this book. Strong 4 stars.
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Russian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков .

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery and had a big interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequent
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“Thus the story describes a full circle... a vicious circle as all circles are, despite their posing as apples, or planets, or human faces.” 2 likes
“repeat however for the benefit of those who like books to provide them with “real people” and “real crime” and a “message” (that horror of horrors borrowed from the jargon of quack reformers) that Dead Souls will get them nowhere.” 1 likes
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