Taras Bulba Hardcover – Apr 1 2003
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“One of the ten greatest books of all time.” —Ernest Hemingway
From the Back Cover
“One of the ten greatest books of all time.” —Ernest HemingwaySee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Set sometime in the 17th century, ï¿½Taras Bulbaï¿½ describes the life of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, a people so accustomed to war that it has become the focus of their existence. Taras is a Cossack colonel, an old fighter who has survived into middle age and fathered two sons, now themselves on the verge of manhood. Far from slipping into complacent quiescence, however, he is as warlike as ever, and his sonsï¿½ return home from their seminary studies rouses him to return from semi-retirement to full-time work (i.e. raiding and pillaging). His overriding motive is to initiate his sons into full Cossack manhood. The military ï¿½ or personal ï¿½ consequences are irrelevant. What matters is that his sons must learn war.
After an interval at their stronghold, the Sech, an all-male enclave where the Cossacks practise the arts of peace (i.e. getting roaring drunk), Taras is able, with little difficulty, given the nature of his audience, to foment a campaign against the neighbouring (and therefore enemy) Poles. This situation exemplifies a clash-of-civilizations scenario wherein the Orthodox Cossacks are engaged in chronic conflict with the Catholic Poles on the one hand and the Muslim Turks and Tatars on the other.Read more ›
First, I was disappointed by the lack of depth he wrote for his characters - they never really sprung to life for me. Rather, they read more like charactures - carousing, drinking, rallying to the "true, Orthodox faith", pirating and plundering. This is as true of the minor characters as it is of Taras Bulba and his sons themselves - characters you would expect more "fleshing out" given the nature of the novel. I was also disappointed by the lack of scope - for a novella about the struggle for Ukrainian independence, the story itself was remarkably thin, dealing only with the events surrounding Tara's attack upon an unnamed Polish city, and his subsequent quest for revenge.
However, there is much to like about Taras Bulba. As one would expect from Gogol, the imagry is fabulous - vivid descriptions of Cossack life from their humble steppe homes, to their flamboyant dress, to the very way in which they drink themselves into a stupor. For this alone, the book is worth the time and effort to read it.