Written in 1831 by the father of Russian literature, this uproarious tale tells of the blacksmith Vakula's battle with the devil, who has stolen the moon and hidden it in his pocket, allowing him to wreak havoc on the village of Dikanka. Both the devil and Vakula are in love with Oksana, the most beautiful girl in Dikanka. Vakula is determined to win her over; the devil, equally determined, unleashes a snowstorm to thwart Vakula's efforts. Zany and mischievous, and drawing inspiration from the folk tales of Gogol's far-flung village in Ukraine, The Night Before Christmas is the basis for many movie and opera adaptations, and is still read aloud to children on Christmas Eve in Ukraine and Russia. 96 pages, hardcover.
As Nikolai Gogol's wily antihero, Chichikov, combs the back country wheeling and dealing for "dead souls" - deceased serfs who still represent money to anyone sharp enough to trade them in - we are introduced to a Dickensian cast of peasants, landowners, and conniving petty officers, few of whom can resist the seductive illogic of Chichikov's proposition. This lively, idiomatic English version by the award winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky makes accessible the full extent of the novel's lyricism, sulphurous humor, and delight in human oddity and error.