The Spectre of Alexander Wolf

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf, by Gaito Gazdanov, is one of a set of works now in vogue, the vogue being that the author was lost for decades, unjustly forgotten, and is now found again. John Williams’ Stoner is another one of these.

Is this a new genre in publishing? A cousin of the “here’s an Eastern European genius you never heard of” genre?

These novels usually promise devastatingly mesmeric beauty coupled with inexorable sadness and wisdom, etc, etc. They will be vouched for by the TLS, the Guardian, BBC Radio 4, European titles (L’Express, Die Zeit), and well-known authors. Are there any dissenting voices?

Has anyone reviewing them said they are alright?

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf is a short novel that loses its way. It occurs to you on page 36 that it is actually a Borges story and you wonder whether it deserves Borgesian length. Later come digressions on a boxing match and a long incursion into a love story and the quirky idea you thought was the motor of the story has faded out of sight. The novel has become content and not story. And the content is alright.

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