And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon

Essential Stories

Translated by Oliver Ready
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$16.95 US
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On sale Apr 02, 2024 | 224 Pages | 978-1-80533-033-2
Iconic short stories from the Russian master of satire, in a strikingly modern translation

"The most morally complete writer: baffled, outraged, reverent, mock-didactic, mocking, all at once. He honours life by feeling no one way about it." — George Saunders


No writer has captured the absurdity of the human condition as acutely as Nikolai Gogol. In a lively new translation by Oliver Ready, this collection contains his great classic stories - "The Overcoat", "The Nose" and "Diary of a Madman" — alongside lesser known gems depicting life in the Russian and Ukrainian countryside. Together, they reveal Gogol's marvelously skewed perspective, moving between the urban and the rural with painfully sharp humour and scorching satire.

Strikingly modern in his depictions of society's shambolic structures, Gogol plunders the depths of bureaucratic and domestic banalities to unearth moments of dark comedy and outrageous corruption. Defying categorisation, the stories in this collection range from the surreal to the satirical to the grotesque, united in their exquisite psychological acuteness and tender insights into the bizarre irrationalities of the human soul.
The Nose
I
A most peculiar thing happened in St Petersburg on March 25th. The barber Ivan
Yakovlevich (only his first name and patronymic have been preserved: even his shop
sign, which depicts a gentleman with a lathered cheek and the words We Also Let Blood,
says nothing about his surname), the barber Ivan Yakovlevich, who lives on
Voznesensky Prospect, woke quite early and caught the smell of hot bread. Lifting
himself up a little in bed, he saw his spouse, quite a worthy lady who was very fond of
coffee, taking some freshly baked loaves out of the stove.
“I won’t have any coffee today, Praskovya Osipovna,” Ivan Yakovlevich said.
“Today I’m in the mood for some warm bread and onion.”
(In fact, Ivan Yakovlevich would have liked both coffee and bread, but he knew
that demanding two things at once was out of the question: Praskovya Osipovna
strongly disapproved of all such whims.)
“More fool him,” his spouse thought to herself. “Means an extra cup for me.” And
she chucked a loaf onto the table.
Donning his tailcoat over his nightshirt to make himself decent, Ivan Yakovlevich
sat down at the table, sprinkled some salt, peeled two onions, picked up a knife and,
making a serious face, addressed the loaf. After cutting it in two equal halves, he was
surprised to spot something white inside. Ivan Yakovlevich poked about gingerly with
the knife and had a feel with his finger. “Pretty firm!” he said to himself. “What could it
be?”
He stuck his fingers in and pulled out… a nose! Ivan Yakovlevich froze; he began
rubbing his eyes and feeling the thing: a nose, most definitely a nose! And not just any
old nose, but a nose he knew. Ivan Yakovlevich’s face was a picture of horror. But this
horror was nothing compared to the rage that had overcome his spouse.
"Gogol’s prose works feature a fiendishly complex narrative structure. In his engaging new versions, Oliver Ready deploys a rich vocabulary. . . . Along the way, there is much to savour." — Times Literary Supplement

"I wish I had written the story 'The Overcoat'. The sensibility of that story is perfect . . . spontaneous and funny and also formally very experimental" - George Saunders

"One of the most profound, and influential, writers Russia has ever produced, he is also probably the funniest" - Guardian

"The greatest artist that Russia has yet produced" - Vladimir Nabokov
Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol was born in 1809 in Ukraine, and moved to St Petersburg after his studies in 1828 to work in an obscure government ministry. His first collection of stories, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (1831), made him famous, and he went on to write several further collections of stories, as well as the play The Government Inspector. Part I of his great, and only novel, Dead Souls, appeared in 1842. In his later life he was increasingly tormented both physically and psychologically, and he burned much of his writing, including part II of Dead Souls. He died in 1852, possibly from self-starvation. View titles by Nikolai Gogol

About

Iconic short stories from the Russian master of satire, in a strikingly modern translation

"The most morally complete writer: baffled, outraged, reverent, mock-didactic, mocking, all at once. He honours life by feeling no one way about it." — George Saunders


No writer has captured the absurdity of the human condition as acutely as Nikolai Gogol. In a lively new translation by Oliver Ready, this collection contains his great classic stories - "The Overcoat", "The Nose" and "Diary of a Madman" — alongside lesser known gems depicting life in the Russian and Ukrainian countryside. Together, they reveal Gogol's marvelously skewed perspective, moving between the urban and the rural with painfully sharp humour and scorching satire.

Strikingly modern in his depictions of society's shambolic structures, Gogol plunders the depths of bureaucratic and domestic banalities to unearth moments of dark comedy and outrageous corruption. Defying categorisation, the stories in this collection range from the surreal to the satirical to the grotesque, united in their exquisite psychological acuteness and tender insights into the bizarre irrationalities of the human soul.

Excerpt

The Nose
I
A most peculiar thing happened in St Petersburg on March 25th. The barber Ivan
Yakovlevich (only his first name and patronymic have been preserved: even his shop
sign, which depicts a gentleman with a lathered cheek and the words We Also Let Blood,
says nothing about his surname), the barber Ivan Yakovlevich, who lives on
Voznesensky Prospect, woke quite early and caught the smell of hot bread. Lifting
himself up a little in bed, he saw his spouse, quite a worthy lady who was very fond of
coffee, taking some freshly baked loaves out of the stove.
“I won’t have any coffee today, Praskovya Osipovna,” Ivan Yakovlevich said.
“Today I’m in the mood for some warm bread and onion.”
(In fact, Ivan Yakovlevich would have liked both coffee and bread, but he knew
that demanding two things at once was out of the question: Praskovya Osipovna
strongly disapproved of all such whims.)
“More fool him,” his spouse thought to herself. “Means an extra cup for me.” And
she chucked a loaf onto the table.
Donning his tailcoat over his nightshirt to make himself decent, Ivan Yakovlevich
sat down at the table, sprinkled some salt, peeled two onions, picked up a knife and,
making a serious face, addressed the loaf. After cutting it in two equal halves, he was
surprised to spot something white inside. Ivan Yakovlevich poked about gingerly with
the knife and had a feel with his finger. “Pretty firm!” he said to himself. “What could it
be?”
He stuck his fingers in and pulled out… a nose! Ivan Yakovlevich froze; he began
rubbing his eyes and feeling the thing: a nose, most definitely a nose! And not just any
old nose, but a nose he knew. Ivan Yakovlevich’s face was a picture of horror. But this
horror was nothing compared to the rage that had overcome his spouse.

Reviews

"Gogol’s prose works feature a fiendishly complex narrative structure. In his engaging new versions, Oliver Ready deploys a rich vocabulary. . . . Along the way, there is much to savour." — Times Literary Supplement

"I wish I had written the story 'The Overcoat'. The sensibility of that story is perfect . . . spontaneous and funny and also formally very experimental" - George Saunders

"One of the most profound, and influential, writers Russia has ever produced, he is also probably the funniest" - Guardian

"The greatest artist that Russia has yet produced" - Vladimir Nabokov

Author

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol was born in 1809 in Ukraine, and moved to St Petersburg after his studies in 1828 to work in an obscure government ministry. His first collection of stories, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (1831), made him famous, and he went on to write several further collections of stories, as well as the play The Government Inspector. Part I of his great, and only novel, Dead Souls, appeared in 1842. In his later life he was increasingly tormented both physically and psychologically, and he burned much of his writing, including part II of Dead Souls. He died in 1852, possibly from self-starvation. View titles by Nikolai Gogol