The first story in this volume, How the Two Ivans Quarrelled
, is an amusing portrayal of two exceptionally close friends, the mortal insult that drives them apart, and the ensuing chaos that occurs. This is Gogol’s humour at its best, where the most irrelevant-seeming details and turns of phrase suddenly take on a bizarre life of their own.
The second story, Ivan Krylov’s Panegyric in Memory of My Grandfather
, has an ingenuous narrator praise the nobility and modesty of a landowner whose actions prove him to be otherwise. The two stories by the Russian satirist Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin are satirical attacks on the inability of civil servants to cope with real life, and on Russia’s autocracy. The final story, Tolstoy’s Ivan the Fool
, is arguably the most celebrated comic story by the author of Anna Karenina
and War and Peace
. Together, they represent some of Russia’s finest comic writing before the twentieth century.
'A fantastic, self-parodic, mock-heroic folk tale.' Patrick McCabe
'He is the master anarchist, his two Ivans locked into a feud that will end only in death.' The Guardian
Read an excerpt from How the Two Ivans Quarrelled