Idioma original: Russian

Original title: The Ghost of Alexander Wolf

Translation (into Catalan): Maria Garcia Barris

Year of publication: 1947-48, in installments

Valuation: Between recommendable and okay

The Specter of Aleksandr Wolf It is quality literature. In the end, it boasts a powerful premise, a certain symbolic love, very fine prose, an extremely complex psychological portrait and a thematic exploration of ambitious scale and universal scope. Unfortunately, the novel by Russian writer Gaito Gazdanov falls flat in some sections, the lack of roundness of which weakens the whole.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and address the argument of The Specter of Aleksandr Wolf. The plot begins with a man surprised by the story of an anthology. In this story it is told with complete accuracy, from the perspective of the victim, how he himself, as a soldier, shot an enemy. It is at this moment that our protagonist discovers that he did not murder the stranger whom he shot down as a young man in self-defense and begins a search to find him.

Taking advantage of this event as a trigger, Gazdanov deploys not only a vaguely police plot in which a journalist tries to find an elusive author. He also describes a love relationship between the narrator and a mysterious Russian woman, or delivers existential reflections on the fate and guilt of someone whose past has turned him into a contradictory and dissatisfied person.

In my opinion, the best of The Specter of Aleksandr Wolf It is his elegant style, agile and entertaining as well as conscientious and dense. Likewise, I have been struck by the depth of the ideas considered by Gazdanov, whose intensity and focus evoke Fyodor Dostoevsky.

The argument is perhaps the weakest section of the whole. Because although I insist that the premise of The Specter of Aleksandr Wolf It is original and works perfectly as a trigger for a suggestive story, Gazdanov’s novel stretches too far, loses its way for several pages and introduces characters (I am thinking of Pierrot, who does not appear until the climax) in a somewhat tricky way. Nor am I convinced by his digressions into boxing and the underworld, both elements that, given their modest relevance, do not merit the paragraphs invested in them. Finally, I would point out that the tragic ending of the work is, I believe, less unexpected than the writer anticipated, as well as hasty.

In short: although The Specter of Aleksandr Wolf It is an imperfect work, it exudes quality. It is worth reading for the brilliance of its finish, the solvency of the characterization of its protagonist and its ability to move and make us reflect.


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