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The compassion, simplicity, and gentle humor with which he treats the poignant quest of a hapless civil servant for the return of his stolen overcoat-and the fantastic yet realistic manner in which he takes revenge on his nemesis, the Very Important Person-mark "The Overcoat" as one of the greatest achievements of Gogol's genius.
The five other "Tales of Good and Evil" in this superb collection demonstrate the broad range of Gogol's literary palette in his short fiction: the fantastic, supernaturally tinged "The Terrible Vengeance," the comic portraiture of "Ivan Fydorovich Shponka and His Aunt," the tragic moral realism of "The Portrait" and "Nevsky Avenue," and the rampaging satire and absurdism of his send-up of Russian upper-class stupidity, "The Nose." The stories offer the reader the perfect introduction to the imaginative genius of Gogol, which was to flower so triumphantly in his masterpiece, Deal Souls.