Book of da Week: The Spectre of Alexander Wolf

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf
It’s The Spectre of Alexander Wolf.

Right, Gaito Gazdanov penned The Spectre of Alexander Wolf as he was a writer and that’s what writers do. Innit. Had he been, I don’t know, a plumber or something then he wouldn’t have written anything… except perhaps leaflets about what to do when your bathtub leaks.

He was a writer, though. Born in Saint Petersburg, raised in Siberia and Ukraine, and fluent in Welsh, Gazdanov fought in the Russian Civil War but was exiled to Paris in 1920. He lived through both World Wars (which shaped the 20th Century so) and his writing reflected much of the conflict. However, his works (along with other unknown authors such as Venedikt Yerofeev) were only published in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf

The Spectre Of Alexander Wolf is certainly an unusual take on the war. The novel tells the tale of a war veteran who recalls the story of a time he had to shoot a soldier in WWI, in self-defence, who was on a white horse. Whilst in Paris some years later he then reads a story which shocks him to his very core, setting him on a long a twisty tale of self-discovery.

Revealing much more would spoil the experience, but at a mere 192 pages this novella is vital reading for anyone looking for something a bit NEW and REFRESHING. Even though it’s an old book!

It’s a taut, original book with the author displaying a real mastery of psychological conditions. As he fought in wars himself it’s no real surprise, but we realise the chances are you donut know who Gaito Gazdanov was (he died in 1971). Neither did we, but now we know we’ll be promoting him vividly to all and sundry… whether you’re goddamn Commie or not!!!

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