Anyone who yearns for literature with dark and satisfying twists reads the Russian greats. Russian writers are known to take their history of long suffering and somehow morph all this into humorous stories filled with satire and social commentary. Nikolai Gogol, the Ukrainian-Russian writer who is considered the father of modern Russian realism, did exactly this in the novel Dead Souls and again in the classic short story, “The Overcoat.”
In both Dead Souls and “The Overcoat” silliness and misunderstanding are common themes. The characters are so over-the-top, they seem like caricatures of themselves. Gogol pokes fun at serious social problems at the time, including serfdom and communist values. “The Overcoat” in particular is written with such humorous flair, wit and brilliance, it is considered by many one of the greatest short stories ever written. And to that, we can say thank you (spaseeba in Russian) to Nikolai Gogol, who was born on this very day March 31st in the year 1809.
Na zdorovie to you, Nikolai Gogol, we celebrate your life, your writing and your indelible mark on literary history!