Monday, January 25, 2016

The Overcoat.

The latest novel to make my 2016 reading list is Dostoyevsky's Poor Folk.

At one point in the novel, Dostoyevsky makes reference to Nikolai Gogol's short story, Shinel. The Russian title is sometimes translated as either The Cloak, or The Overcoat, or The Mantle.

The translation by John Cournos, (The Cloak) can be found at Project Gutenberg in a collection of short stories, Best Russian Short Stories and Taras Bulba, and Other Tales by Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol. The translation by Claud Field (The Mantle) is also on Project Gutenberg, The Mantle, and Other Stories by Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol.

A translation can be found (by an unknown translator) as The Overcoat at

Not having read the short story prior to this, I immediately read both the Cournos and the Field translations.

Oddly enough, in the notes for the wikipedia article for The Overcoat, the short story is said to have heavily influenced the Japanese writer, RyĆ«nosuke Akutagawa' in his writing of Yam Gruel. Yam Gruel was among the short stories I read in 2015 in Rashomon and Other Stories. After reading the two translations of the Gogol short story, I reread Yam Gruel .......because I did not recall the story being at all like Gogol's Shinel. My memory was faulty. Although the ending is in no way similar, I saw the influence in the very beginning as I reread the story.

As an aside, included in The Mantle, and Other Stories by Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol. is The Nose. I had read that particular short story ages ago. I remember making a joke about the story while standing in line to see the very first Star Wars movie with my friends, Dave and Lew. Unfortunately, the joke is too complicated to explain here.

No comments: