By Edmund Wilson
My development of the pdf uploaded by way of chef (despecked b/w, OCR'd, bookmarked, dossier measurement 1/4, his announcemet copied).
Russian Language 3
Gogol: The Demon within the Overgrown backyard 38
Seeing Chekhov undeniable 52
Turgenev and the Life-Giving Drop 68
Sukhovo-Kobylin: "Who Killed the French Woman?" 148
Notes on Tolstoy 161
Notes on Pushkin 185
A Little Museum of Russian Language 197
The unusual Case of Pushkin and Nabokov 209
Svetlana and Her Sisters 238
The glory of the overdue Edmund Wilson, as Frank Kermode remarked, has regularly been "his skill to spot, no matter if he couldn't thoroughly describe, the master-spirit of an age." different critics are extra analytic or extra systematic, yet none rather fit Wilson's grab of tradition and historical past, of routine and males. In A Window on Russia, which Wilson modestly calls "a handful of disconnected items, written at a variety of instances while I occurred to have an interest within the a variety of authors," we come upon that infrequent excitement of coming into a residing global the place the useless hand of academia by no means casts its shadow. actual, the essays are asymmetric, the sooner surveys of Gogol and Chekhov, for example, are moderate affairs, with out the diversity and poignancy of Wilson's stories of Turgenev and Tolstoy and Pushkin. actual, he's no phrasemaker. He tells us that "Gorky rightly acknowledged that Tolstoy and God have been like bears in a single den," and there's not anything in his personal feedback on Tolstoy that equals the pithiness of Gorky's comment. but how memorably Wilson builds up a personality, an period; how interesting are his fussy facts and leisurely summaries; how simply he makes his issues: the bureaucrats who flourish lower than the Soviets as they did less than the Tsars, the peasants who are suffering from one regime to a different, the depression authors who universally melancholy of Russia but can't undergo to be parted from her. integrated within the present miscellany is the well-known controversy among Nabokov and Wilson over Evgeni Onegin, which first seemed within the manhattan overview, and rather most appropriate chapters on Svetlana and Solzhenitsyn which seemed within the New Yorker.
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Extra info for A Window On Russia
Is the sudden fallingout of the bottom of some impressive construction that we have watched being elaborately built. vans; the theft of the overcoat in the famous later story; the cataclysmic discoveries, too late, in the plays, of the large-scale imposture of The Inspector General and of the confidence game in The Gamblers; the abject jumping out the window of the fiance of Marriage at the moment when, with infinite difficulty, his betrothal has been achieved; the breakdown ofChichikov's fraudulent traffic just in his hour of triumph when he is feted as the toast of the town.
We are submerged in the messy and stuffy and smelly and run-to-seed life of landowners who are drunken and quarrelsome, moping and ineffective, brutal and selfassertive or crazily acquisitive or stupidly grasping. After an opening almost Pickwickian, with a man putting up at an inn, this strange book, which never ceases to be humorous, leads us into a domain of horror: another and ranker jungle that is also a stagnant morass. Gogol wallows, like his characters, in the paragraphs of a cluttered, apparently phlegmatic style that has now been brought to perfection; yet this style has a persistent undercurrent of sadness, of disgust, of chagrin; it condemns and it undermines.
A paragraph seems a mere clot of words, which might almost as well be read backward as forward and in which the contrived rhythms have the air of being ends in themselves, since they are always forcing the reader to stop and pay attention to them instead of sweeping him on. This style must have been due to some very strong pressures, for it is shared to some extent by a writer who worked on a big scale, like Balzac; and even by a popular writer, like Scott, who did want to tell a story. The settings of the stage in Balzac, the antiquarian preliminaries of Scott, are often entanglements of this littered non-functional style, which combines the facetious with the pompous, clumsily handled actualities with jaunty mythological allusions.
A Window On Russia by Edmund Wilson