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The Spectre of Alexander Wolf


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About the Author

Gaito Gazdanov (Georgi Ivanovich Gazdanov, 1903-1971), son of an Ossetian forester, was born in St Petersburg and brought up in Siberia and Ukraine, he joined Baron Wrangel's White Army in 1919 aged just sixteen, and fought in the Russian Civil War until the Army's evacuation from the Krimea in 1920. After a brief sojourn in Gallipoli and Contantinople (where he completed secondary school), he moved to Paris, where he spent eight years variously working as a docker, washing locomotives, and in the Citroen factory. During periods of unemployment, he slept on park benches or in the Metro. In 1928, he became a taxi driver, working nights, which enabled him to write and to attend lectures at the Sorbonne during the day. His first stories began appearing in 1926, in Russian emigre periodicals, and he soon became part of the literary scene. In 1929 he published An Evening with Claire, which was acclaimed by, among others, Maxim Gorki and the great critic Vladislav Khodasevich. He died in Munich in 1971, and is buried in the Russian cemetery of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois near Paris.


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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