The Carriage by Nikolai Gogol, 1836
The magic trick:
Comedy and more comedy
Gogol, even in his darkest stories, is always funny. The comedy counterpoints the gloom to create something that feels electric and original. In “The Carriage” he seems to filter out most of the gloom and focus solely on the comedy. It is a very funny story. The characters are presented as buffoons – all pompous and oblivious. But whereas his other work often veers into nightmarish scenes or experimental narration, this story is content simply being silly. And that’s quite a trick on Gogol’s part.
“And have you, puff, puff, puff, had her long, Your Excellency?” said Chertokutsky.
“Puff, puff, puff, well… puff, not so long. It’s only two years since I brought her from the stud farm!”
“And was she broken when you got her, or did they break her here?”
“Puff, puff, pu, pu, pu… u… u… ff, here.” Having said which, the general vanished completely in smoke.