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THE SQUABBLE by Nikolai Gogol


by Nikolai Gogol & translated by Hugh Alpin

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-84391-013-6
Publisher: Hesperus/Trafalgar

The great gifts for farcical detail and satiric characterization that distinguish such later masterpieces as Dead Souls and “The Government Inspector” are amply displayed in these three earlier stories, set in Gogol’s native Ukraine (a.k.a. “Little Russia”). “The Carriage” (1836), about a disgraced cavalry officer’s failed attempt to impress his social and military superiors, is a crisp narrative suffused with Chekhovian pathos—as is the more ambitious “Olde Worlde Landowners” (1835), which is simultaneously lament and lampoon, portraying the ingenuous overindulgence of a subsequently vanished leisured class. The hilarious 1834 title story, a naïve narrator’s effusive account of a trivial neighbors’ feud that produces years of litigation and tragicomically wasted lives, is a classic demonstration of the mastery of both hyperbole and understatement that made Gogol (1809–52) a unique and irreplaceable writer.