A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on some of the books I read. To read about all the books I read and comment on, visit me at LibraryThing or Goodreads.

I've been blogging since 2007 and at this point (July 2015) am trying my hand at turning the theme of this blog towards mystery, thriller, and crime, fiction and nonfiction. I have some special interest topics and categories within this broad genre which include (but are not limited to) serial killers, scandi-crime, Victorian history and historicals, history of the criminally insane and asylums, psychopathology, death, funerary practices and burial, corpses, true crime and anything dealing with the real life macabre, or that portrayed in fiction.

I also read a short story a day from various collections, sometimes anthologies othertimes collections of a single author's work. These reviews are also posted here and while they are of mixed genre the mystery, thriller, horror, gothic and macabre often appear within their pages as well.

I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

201 . How the Two Ivans Quarrelled by Nikolai Gogol.

How the Two Ivans Quarrelled by Nikolai Gogol. Translated by John Cournos.
The Art of the Novella

Rating: (4/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

1835; Dec. 2007, Melville House Publishing, 83 pgs

Age: 18+

"This lesser-known work is perhaps the perfect distillation of Nikolai Gogol’s genius: a tale simultaneously animated by a joyful, nearly slapstick sense of humor alongside a resigned cynicism about the human condition.
In a sharp-edged translation from John Cournos, an under-appreciated early translator of Russian literature into English, How The Two Ivans Quarrelled is the story of two long-time friends who have a falling out when one of them calls the other a “goose.” From there, the argument intensifies and the escalation becomes more and more ludicrous. Never losing its generous antic spirit, the story nonetheless transitions from whither a friendship, to whither humanity, as it progresses relentlessly to its moving conclusion."

Purchased a copy as part of the publisher's monthly book club.

I was first introduced to Gogol in an unusual way, by my grade 10 French teacher of all people.  M. Berard told us his love for this Russian author of short stories and spent some time reading aloud to the class "The Nose" from a French translation, of course taking time out to make sure we were getting it.  It's something I'll always remember.  Flash back to now and when I received this book, I thought Gogol?  Gogol? isn't that the  "Nose" guy so I looked him up and indeed it is the same author.  So it was with some glee I went into reading this story and finding out what my old French teacher found so delightful about him.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story but it was not what I expected.  Oh it was funny,  hilariously so at times, and I found myself chuckling at the satirical characterizations of the two Ivans and their quips to each other.  By the way there is also a third Ivan, who we must never confuse with the second Ivan!  But this isn't just a farce; it starts off funny and always has a tongue firmly planted in cheek but as the story progresses a gloom descends upon it and comedy turns to tragedy or perhaps travesty, depending on your point of view.  We start with a smile on our face and end, as the author intends, feeling "gloomy".  Now, I'm one of those people who love a depressing little story but these two brought this upon themselves and their fate still made me finish the book with a hearty, "HA!"  I'm finding I have quite a taste for Russian Literature, new and old, as a future review will prove.

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