The Spectre of Alexander Wolf
Gaito Gazdanov, Bryan Karetnyk
‘Of all my memories, of all my life’s innumerable sensations, the most onerous was that of the single murder I had committed.’
A man comes across a short story which recounts in minute detail his killing of a soldier, long ago – from the victim’s point of view. It’s a story that should not exist, and whose author can only be a dead man. So begins the strange quest for the elusive writer ‘Alexander Wolf’. A singular classic, The Spectre of Alexander Wolf is a psychological thriller and existential inquiry into guilt and redemption, coincidence and fate, love and death.
A work of great potency ... it punches very much above its weight, and I have a hunch that what's in it will stay with you for the rest of your life -- Nicholas Lezard Guardian This is an original at work, that originality perceived as it were through a veil, as an intrigue, an enigma... offering a perception of reality, of death and guilt and the effects of both -- George Szirtes The Times Quick-paced, taut prose ... rendered beautifully in Karetnyk's accomplished new translation -- Ivan Juritz Independent on Sunday Elegantly eerie ... devastatingly atmospheric ... cool, wonderfully fraught... Gifted if unsung masters from the past continue to put pressure on the writers of the moment, and readers need only savour riches such as this unsettling wonder to understand why -- Eileen Battersby The Irish Times A tantalising mystery. Much more than a period piece, it is a mesmerising work of literature -- Antony Beevor It's as if the roman policier has been filtered through Dostoevsky... a finely wrought novel, tense and enigmatic, just waiting to be discovered by a filmmaker ... The narrator relates his tale in gorgeously cadenced long sentences ... like those of Proust ... Gazdanov owes a debt from the grave to his translator Bryan Karetnyk -- Lesley Chamberlain TLS Truly troubling, a weird meditation on death, war, and sex... Bryan Karetnyk's new translation makes you believe in the power of the original -- Lorin Stein Paris Review Quick, taut prose... rendered beautifully in Karetnyk's accomplished new translation -- Ivan Juritz Independent on Sunday Extraordinarily good -- Oliver Bullough Literary Review A compulsive read, playful yet sinister, meandering yet impressively trim, old-world and modern. It is to Pushkin Press's great credit that this gorgeously restored relic... has been revived from untimely oblivion -- Daniel Levine The Millions Splendidly translated... a mini-masterpiece Star Tribune Gazdanov's work is the perfect fusion of the Russian tradition and French innovation London Review of Books There are hints of Sartre's nihilism, flashes of Nabokov's emigre restlessness and several narrative tricks, which seem to prefigure postmodernism... those interested in questioning the hidden and often incomprehensible connections between human beings will savor this intriguing tale -- Phoebe Taplin Russia Beyond the Headlines Coincidence, fate, guilt, redemption, love, death and melodrama are thrillingly interwoven with irresistible style and elegance -- Val Hennessy Daily Mail This new translation of his most popular and accomplished novel reveals Gadzanov's masterful command of criminal plots and the psychological nuances of his characters, coupled with evocative descriptions of shifting moods and urban landscapes... Karetnyk's prose is surgically precise and elegantly taut... A literary masterpiece The Lady Gazdanov is a modernist master -- Mary O'Donoghue Irish Times Gazdanov's name remains too little mentioned by English-language readers - a problem for which Bryan Karetnyk's new translation... provides a partial solution... Like Nabokov at his best, Gazdanov teases his reader to trace the sometimes parallel yet often intersecting narrative layers, reminding us again that to read literature means, in many ways, to lose one's mind Rain Taxi Dancing between themes, Gazdanov's plain and poised sentences proceed always at their own unhurried pace... Bryan Karetnyk's translation makes this English prose sound... like the cool musicianship of vintage jazz. Something shines through it. Scotland-Russia Review Elegantly crafted World Literature Today A detective story that falls within a particular Russian literary lineage Lit Hub
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