Book Review: “The Overcoat” and “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol

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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.

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Book Review: The Queen of Spades by Alexander Pushkin

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Hi everyone! How have you been doing? Today I’d like to write about a book I finished recently. The book is called “The Queen of Spades” and it’s by the famous Russian author Alexander Pushkin. In the book edition that I got there was also another short story, also by him, called “The Shot”.

I really liked both of these short stories, particularly “The Queen of Spades” which is a story about a young officer, named Hermann, who watches other gamble but never play himself. One night one of his friends tells him the story of his grandmother, who a long time ago was able to win back the fortune she had lost at cards by using the secret of the tree winning cars. The countess never played again and Hermann becomes obsessed with learning the trick from her.

I’m not going to reveal the ending but I have to say it was quite unpredictable to me, I mean I thought it was going to end in a certain way and it ended in the opposite way. I really like Pushkin style so far, I find it easier than I expected it to be, yet it always kind of sophisticated, and it’s never boring. I highly recommend this short story.

The other one, “The shot” was the story of a retired soldier named Silvio, who seeks revenge against a man who disrespected him a long time ago.

I really liked this story as well, it was very short, even shorter than the first one but it was still entertaining. What I have found interesting is that, sadly, Pushkin life ended tragically in a duel, and I thought about what a sad set of circumstances had to take place in order for that end to happen. It’s such a shame that one of the greatest writers of all time had to die in such a way, I think of what more he could have done if things would have been different.

The next stories I will be reading next are two short stories by Gogol: The Overcoat and The Nose. I don’t think it will take me that long to finish them because they are very short as well, so expect a review in the next few days.

This is it for now, let me know in the comments if you have read these stories and what did you think about them, and also if you have any suggestion about what to read next, I not sure if I should start with some of the longer novels first, for example, I want to start reading “The Brothers Karamazov”, “The Idiot” and “Demons” by Dostoyevsky, “War and Peace” by Tolstoy, or if I should go for other short stories first, if you have any suggestion please let me know in the comments below, thanks.

I live you with my favorite quote from “The Queen of Spades” (if you haven’t read the story yet, let me warn you that it contains a spoiler):

“Lizaveta listened to him in terror. So all those passionate letters, those ardent desires, this bold obstinate pursuit—all this was not love! Money—that was what his soul yearned for! She could not satisfy his desire and make him happy! The poor girl had been nothing but the blind tool of a robber, of the murderer of her aged benefactress! … She wept bitter tears of agonized repentance. Hermann gazed at her in silence: his heart, too, was a prey to violent emotion, but neither the tears of the poor girl, nor the wonderful charm of her beauty, enhanced by her grief, could produce any impression upon his hardened soul. He felt no pricking of conscience at the thought of the dead old woman. One thing only grieved him: the irreparable loss of the secret from which he had expected to obtain great wealth.” Alexander Pushkin.

Who would be on my dream panel of authors?

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Hi everyone! For this blog post I’m writing about something that was brought to my attention thanks to Eventbrite, an event planning software company that helps people find and plan events. If you want to check out their website here’s their online event registration page.

So the idea is very simple: Who would be on my dream panel of authors?

Let me just say that it’s hard to choose only a few authors because I’m such a bookworm and there are just too many authors that I love and admire. I chose to make a list with only living authors because otherwise, it would be too long to fit into one blog post XD… Okay so let’s get right to it, here’s my list:

  1. NEIL GAIMAN

Neil Gaiman is probably my favorite author, I’ve had the honor of listening to him speak live in Mantova, nearly ten years ago, and to this day I still remember vividly the night I went to listen to him. Hearing him read his words is a unique experience, I just love his dark and twisted imagination. He is a very inspiring artist, I could listen to him speak for hours.

  1. GEORGE R.R. MARTIN

George R.R. Maring is probably “the author” of the moment, so I definitely would love to have him on my dream panel. He is very wise and clever, nothing he does or says is accidental. I love how rich his characters are, so I would ask him lots of question about how he builds characters.

  1. STEPHEN KING

I cannot have a dream panel of authors and not invite Mr. King. He is an amazing writer that I respect and adore. Unfortunately, I haven’t read a lot of his writings but what I would love to see is him interact with both Gaiman and Martin, that would be awesome.

  1. J.K. ROWLING

Yes, I am a Potterhead and of course, I would have J.K. Rowling on my dream panel. She is such a great writer. She is so inspiring and also very witty, I just love reading her replies on twitter. I’d love to ask her what is she working on right now, and if there are any other stories, not set in the Harry Potter world, that she would like to tell.

  1. MARGARET ATWOOD

I discovered Margaret Atwood only recently actually, and I really like her. “The Handmaid’s Tale” is such an interesting novel. But I think I would rather ask her about her life and her view on things, what does she think about our society and stuff like that.

  1. CHUCK PALAHNIUK

I’d love to have also Chuck Palahniuk on my panel, he is a unique author and I love him, and even if I’m not that familiar with his writings I would just love to hear his point to view on things.

  1. KHALED HOSSEINI

I’d like to have Khaled Hosseini just because I love his books so much, they are very sophisticated in my opinion. I have to hand it to him that he was able to completely change my point of view on something, and trust me, make me change my mind about something is not easy… I think I would ask him about Afghanistan and how it was before the war.

  1. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON

Last but not least I would have Neil deGrasse Tyson as a moderator, and I would just let him talk about the stars and the universe. It’s just amazing listening to him speak about those subjects.

This is it. What an exciting panel this one would be. What do you guys think? What would be your dream panel? Which author would you choose? Let me know in the comments below.