Saturday, 19 May 2012


One of my characters in the book I’m currently working on (‘Tesla vs The Martians’) uses the expression ‘Gogol-esque’ to describe the feeling of unease he experiences when the Carnivores (don’t ask) are being described to him. The exact phrase is: ‘Images of the Gogol-esque monsters flickered through Denisov’s mind, the devilish creatures that had haunted his childhood dreams’.

Now I submitted the chapter this phrase was in to be critiqued by the Northampton Science Fiction Writers Group and was a little taken aback when one of the group took me to task by saying that as Gogol had only written one horror story – ‘Viy’ – he was better seen as a writer of romances. QED my use of the term was inaccurate.
At the time I was so non-plussed that I didn’t really know what to say so I’ve gone and checked with my Russian friends what their take on Gogol is. It seems to correspond with mine. The words they used to describe his writing were ‘surreal’, ‘grotesque’ and ‘unsettling’ and, of course, Gogol wrote stories other than ‘Viy’ which, whilst not horror per se were at the very least horrific (and here I’d cite ‘A Terrible Vengeance’, ‘A Bewitched Place’, ‘St John’s Eve’, ‘The Nose’ and ‘The Overcoat’).

So having considered the matter more fully I think I’ll leave ‘Gogol-esque’ in!

1 comment:

  1. To go on with the list, "An Evening in May or the Drowned Maiden" later becoming a beautiful opera by Rimsky-Korsakov, "The Lost Letter", even bits in "Taras Bulba" made me shudder when I was about 10 and was reading it one late evening with nobody at home.:)