Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Terrible Vengeance" by Nikolai Gogol

"Terrible Vengeance" by Nikolai Gogol (1832, 40 pages)

Gogol Goes Gothic

"Terrible Vengeance" (translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky and included in their The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol) is a story about very evil spirits culminating with the Anti-Christ.   When I first saw that there was going to be a classic circuit event centering on early Gothic literary works I was not sure what I wanted to post about.   My reading and other schedule is too full now to fit in a large scale work so I was happy to see that the very hard working hosts for The Classics Circuit had provided a very good list of suggestions, among them two short stories by Nikolai Gogol (1804 to 1850).

The story opens at a Cossack wedding.   Cossacks had a special place in the Russian psyche.    They were often used as "shock troops" by the Czarist interests and in return for this they were given a large measure of cultural freedom to retain very old folk believes.   They were mostly Christians but they maintained many older views about evil spirits, sorcerers, and curses.  

Two holy icons are brought into the wedding festival.   At the sight of it, one of the guests who had been dancing wildly, turned into a very scary looking creature still in the form of a man but with a sharp chin, green eyes, a beak, and claws.   He then just vanishes from sight.   Of course the guests at the wedding and the wedding family members all see this as a terrible omen.   The action in the story is pretty fast and a little confusing.   Corpses start to come out of the ground.   

The plot line is really strange.   Before it is over people make the mistake off looking in the window of a strange castle only to see the father of one of the groom's best friends preforming strange rituals in which he is commanding his own daughter to marry him.    The plot gets weirder from here but I have told enough to give you the feel for it without spoiling the ending.

I have read the excellent posts from others in the circuit.   No other work reviewed so far seems as strange as this one.

Mel u

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