“We all come out from under Gogol’s ‘Overcoat’” is a familiar saying of Turgenev, and though it applies to Russian rather than European fiction, it has also a general truth.
Read now, and by itself, “The Overcoat” does not appear so very impressive. All the things Gogol has done in it have been done frequently since his day, and sometimes done better. But if we read it again in its historical context, closing our minds so far as we can to all the short stories it gave rise to, we can see that Turgenev was not exaggerating. We have all come out from under Gogol’s “Overcoat.”
“The Overcoat” is available online in a number of places, including here.
As usual, the discussion will begin on the second Tuesday of the month: members of the group are invited to begin posting their thoughts on the story at the A Curious Singularity blog on January 8th. I’m looking forward to reading what everyone has to say about it.
If you're not yet a member of the group and you would like to join, please e-mail me. New members are always welcome! Of course, anyone can contribute to the discussion through the comments sections of the posts without officially joining the group.