Alan's Reviews > Gogol's Wife and Other Stories

Gogol's Wife and Other Stories by Tommaso Landolfi
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's review
Nov 23, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: short-stories, read-in-2010
Recommended to Alan by: Michael Peck
Read from June 25 to July 01, 2010

My brain hurts. Maybe it's my new glasses - I can now see everything in hallucinatory detail: the mould spots on leaves on trees, the blemishes on faces approaching twenty yards away, the numbers of buses down the road (quite useful) - or maybe it's this book. Great inventive stories full of wry humour, Kafka-esque, Borges-esque. Gogol's wife is a blow up doll that can change shape and catch diseases; in another story a man writes poems in a language that only he knows and argues that they are great art because he thinks they are; in 'Two Old Maids' a monkey escapes and is seen giving mass in a nearby convent; in 'Pastoral' a girl finds that people in the countryside hibernate for the winter in strange fleshy bags that hang from the ceiling: inevitably she ends up doing so too. Others are more straightforward, a chimney sweep at a wedding, a description of an owl.

My brain hurt from the intellectual debate that takes over many of the pieces - in Two Old Maids a good ten pages are spent on theological deabte on the nature of good and evil. Similarly in the unknown language one (I haven't got the book with me - will come back and put in title: Dialogue on the Greater Harmonies and some quotes to illustrate what I mean - see below) the debate is about what constitutes art. All very interesting and quite thrilling at times but it lacked for me the emotional involvement that I crave from stories. Very mean score really though - I think many will enjoy this book...

here's a quote to help you make up your mind:

'Of course,' the great critic declaimed, 'on what takes place in the most secret penetralia of an artist's soul, our profane eyes must not intrude. Of course an artist is free to put together his words even before atrributing meaning to them, free even to expect from those words, or from a single word, the whole significance and meaning of his composition. Provided that this composition is.. art.'

as i say interesting but not my particular blend of tea.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Alan I'm sure many will slurp it up. I did like it really, mostly, the characters were comic (a bit Gogol-ish) and the writing sarcastic, but the philosophical musings were too dry for me.


Alan Alan wrote: "I'm sure many will slurp it up. I did like it really, mostly, the characters were comic (a bit Gogol-ish) and the writing sarcastic, but the philosophical musings were too dry for me."

this isn't me replying to no one, there was a message there but the GR member left and all his messages disappeared.


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