Nikolai Gogol in The Twilight of Empire

Jennifer Wilson at The Nation:

In a new collection of Gogol’s short stories, translated by Susanne Fusso, a professor of Russian studies at Wesleyan University, readers are reintroduced to the familiar cast of characters—identified by their rank, of course—that populate many of the Ukrainian author’s most celebrated works, including “The Nose” and “The Overcoat.” There are the titular councillors, the collegiate assessors, the section heads of unnamed departments, the recently promoted (and thus insufferable). In short, the book’s stories cover nearly all manner of pompous, status-obsessed, careerist bureaucrats. It could be said that the Table of Ranks defined Gogol’s narrative landscape, but what is also true is that Gogol in turn redefined the Table of Ranks for his readers, then and now. As the scholar Irina Reyfman notes, “To a large degree, the way people now think of the world of state service is determined by Gogol’s portrayal of it in his fiction.”

more here.