Using, or rather mimicking, traditional forms of storytelling Gogol created stories that are complete within themselves and only tangentially connected to a meaning or moral. His work belongs to the school of invention, where each twist and turn of the narrative is a surprise unfettered by obligation to an overarching theme.
Selected from Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka, Mirgorod, and the Petersburg tales and arranged in order of composition, the thirteen stories in The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogolencompass the breadth of Gogol's literary achievement. From the demon-haunted “St. John's Eve ” to the heartrending humiliations and trials of a titular councilor in “The Overcoat,” Gogol's knack for turning literary conventions on their heads combined with his overt joy in the art of story telling shine through in each of the tales.
This translation, by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, is as vigorous and darkly funny as the original Russian. It allows readers to experience anew the unmistakable genius of a writer who paved the way for Dostevsky and Kafka.