A superb early postmodern classic by one of Nabokov’s fellow émigré writers, rediscovered after more than half a century
“A mesmerising work of literature” Antony Beevor
“A work of great potency … it punches very much above its weight, and I have a hunch that what’s in it will stay with you for the rest of your life” Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
“This is an original at work, that originality perceived as it were through a veil, as an intrigue, an enigma … offering a perception of reality, of death and guilt and the effects of both” George Szirtes, The Times
“Quick-paced, taut prose … rendered beautifully in Karetnyk’s accomplished new translation” Ivan Juritz, Independent on Sunday
“A masterpiece of modern literature” Die Zeit
“If Proust had been a Russian taxi driver in Paris in the 1930s…” L’Express
A man comes across a short story which recounts in minute detail his killing of a soldier, long ago-from the victim’s point of view. It’s a story that should not exist, and whose author can only be a dead man.
So begins the strange quest for the elusive writer “Alexander Wolf”.
A singular classic, The Spectre of Alexander Wolf is a psychological thriller and existential inquiry into guilt and redemption, coincidence and fate, love and death.
Gaito Gazdanov, the son of a forester, joined Baron Wrangel’s White Army aged just sixteen and fought in the Russian Civil War. Exiled in Paris from the 1920s onwards, he took on what jobs he could and during periods of unemployment slept on park benches or in the Métro. A job driving taxis at night eventually allowed him to attend lectures at the Sorbonne and write during the day; he soon became part of the literary scene, and was greatly acclaimed by Maxim Gorky, among others. He died in Munich in 1971.