Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing all right. Here I am once again with a book review. As I had promised in my last one, I’m going to talk about “The Overcoat” and “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol.
This was my first book by Gogol and I absolutely loved it. They are both short stories but they are both meaningful and very deep in my opinion.
Let me start with “The Overcoat”, which is my favorite of the two. I guess the main character of the story, as the title suggests, is the overcoat that Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin, a rather poor government copyist, has to buy in order to keep himself warm during the cold St. Petersburg winter. Basically what happens is that Bashmachikin, a dedicated worker who is the subject of his coworker’s jokes for his overly used coat, takes his coat to the tailor to have it repaired but the tailor says that he needs to buy a new one. Since Bashmachikin lives a very basic life and does not have a lot of money he doesn’t really know what to do but, in the end, he finds a way to get the money he needs for his new overcoat.
Now I’m not going to reveal the ending because you have to read it, seriously, but somehow this story spoke a little bit to my heart. Probably because I could relate to Bashmachikin situation, which is what I really loved about this story because as I understand Gogol drew a lot from his personal experiences in order to write it.
This is a universal story, and it reminded me a little bit about Dostoyevsky’s “White Nights”. I think that it’s because both of these stories are about a feeling of isolation from the rest of society, and I think that everyone who ever felt alienated or alone will really love them. In fact, there’s a famous saying attributed to Dostoyevsky: “We all come out from Gogol’s Overcoat.”
This is my favorite quote from “The Overcoat”:
“And for a long time afterwards, even during his gayest moments, he would see that stooping figure with a bald patch in front, muttering pathetically: “Leave me alone, why do you have to torment me?” And in these piercing words he could hear the sound of others: “I am your brother.” The poor young man would bury his face in his hands and many times later in life shuddered at the thought of how brutal men could be and how the most refined manners and breeding often concealed the most savage coarseness, even, dear God, in someone universally recognized for his honesty and uprightness…” – Nikolai Gogol.
The other short story is called “The Nose”, and frankly, it’s one of the strangest stories I’ve ever read. It kind of funny, but it’s a very dark sense of humor I guess. It’s an absurd story about a man who basically loses his nose and has to go through a lot of tribulations to get it back to its place since the nose has decided to wander around the city.
It was really fun to read, I recommend it. Here’s my favorite quote:
“But nothing is permanent in this world. Joy in the second moment of its arrival is already less keen than in the first, is still fainter in the third, and finishes by coalescing with our normal mental state, just as the circles which the fall of a pebble forms on the surface of water, gradually die away.” – Nikolai Gogol.
Now I just want to say something about Russian literature, in general: the more I read about it the more I love it. It’s so dark and twisted but also incredibly deep, it’s really amazing, I have no idea why I thought it was too hard to read I’m completely fascinated by it, and I recommend it to everyone.
As always if you want to tell me something about your thoughts let me know in the comments.