Two Crocodiles highlights two literary masters from opposite ends of the world — Russia’s Fyodor Dostoevsky and Uruguay’s Felisberto Hernández. Dostoevsky’s crocodile, cruelly displayed in a travelling sideshow, gobbles whole a pretentious high-ranking civil servant. But the functionary survives unscathed and seizes his new unique platform to expound to the fascinated public. Dostoevsky’s Crocodile is a matchless, hilarious satire.
Hernández’s Crocodile, on the other hand, while also terribly funny, is a heartbreaker. A pianist struggling to make ends meet as a salesman finds success when he begins to weep before clients and audience alike, but then he can’t stop the crocodile tears.
It is the night before Christmas and devilry is afoot. A witch steals the moon and hides it in her pocket. The devil is set free to run amok and inflicts all sorts of wicked mischief upon the village of Dikanka by unleashing a snowstorm. But who he’d really like to torment is the town blacksmith, Vakula, who creates paintings of the devil being vanquished. Vakula is in love with Oksana, but she will have nothing to do with him. Vakula, however, is determined to win her over, even if it means battling the devil. Taken from Nikolai Gogol’s first successful work, the story collection Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka, The Night Before Christmas is available here for the first time as a stand-alone novella and is a perfect introduction to the great Russian satirist.