Sunday, July 3, 2011

Reading Log: Inflatable (to the tune of “Unforgettable”)

“Gogol’s Wife”

Tommaso Landolfi’s story is written as a chapter of a biography on the famous Russian writer, Nikolai Gogol. In this chapter, the author explores the delicate matter of Gogol’s “wife.” It turns out that she is not a woman, but a balloon. A titilling conceit for horny teen-age boys of all ages, Landolfi develops the story into a humorous, but ultimately sad and disturbing fictionalization of Gogol’s self-destruction. The humorous satire is vibrant from beginning to end, while the sense of tragedy subtly builds beneath the surface. The ultimate effect is a potent sense of the pointlessness of Golgol’s demise.

“Gogol’s Wife” is reminiscent of Gogol stories such as “The Overcoat” and, far more, “The Nose.” The story is humorously absurd, tragic, and strangely touching. It is both a tribute to Gogol the writer and a scathing satire of Gogol the man.

The Bloom on Gogol’s Wife

Harold Bloom’s essay on Tomasso Landolfi, and specifically “Gogol’s Wife,” in How to Read and Why is little more than a summary of the story, but it is this essay which first made me aware of Landolfi, and for this I am appreciative.

The Mabinogion

Thanks to Le Salon Litteraire du Peuple pour le Peuple, I have picked up a new translation of The Mabinogion in anticipation of reading John Cowper Powys’s, Porius. (Quickly say “John Cowper Powys’s, Porius,” five times.) I won’t be in time to catch the group read of Porius, however, there are links a-plenty to help with my read when I get to it. See these:

Le Salon Litteraire du Peuple pour le Peuple

English Translation: The Literary Salon of the People for the People

American Translation: The Literary Salon of the Purple Prose for the Purple Prose

Le Salon Litteraire du Peuple pour le Peuple is a LibraryThing group made up of a disparate bunch of folks who are both fun-loving and highly literate. If you disdain fun and pleasure yourself with effete condescension you may like to check out a different group—Literary Snobs. For a bunch of self-proclaimed literary snobs, they aren’t all that snobby… just more curmudgeonly than Le Salon.

1 comment:

  1. The Literary Salon of the Purple Prose for the Purple Prose

    "How dare you!" he said through deeply sonorous and robust chuckles. HA!! That's good!


Don't be a jerk.