Some call him a Russian Mark Twain. And with his special blend of comedy, social commentary, and fantasy, Nikolai Gogol paved the way for his countrymen Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. This sampling of Gogol's works includes the increasingly fantastic entries of "The Diary of a Madman," followed by the wonderfully surrealistic "The Nose," in which the title character embarks on some unlikely activities when separated from its owner's face. In "The Carriage," a pompous landowner gets his comeuppance when he attempts to impress a general. Rounding out the collection are the woefully comic tale of a clerk's acquisition of "The Overcoat" and the celebrated novella "Taras Bulba" about the Ukrainian mythic hero said to have led a bloody Cossack revolt against the Poles. Translated by Priscilla Meyer and Andrew R. McAndrew. With a New Introduction and an Afterword by Priscilla Meyer.