Books: Pathetic Giant

NIKOLAI GOGOL (174 pp.)—Janko Lavrin—Macmillan ($2.50).

Nikolai Gogol was obsessed by the image of a ladder. "God," he wrote in one of his earliest stories, "has a ladder reaching from heaven right down to earth. The holy archangels put it up ... and as soon as God steps on the first rung of it, all the evil spirits fall headlong and sink in heaps down to hell." Gogol spent 33 years reaching, as he believed, the bottom rung. Worn out, he thought he heard God's angry foot above, and slid back into the pit of...

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