By Sasha Sokolov
By means of turns lyrical and philosophical, witty and baffling, A institution for Fools confounds all expectancies of the radical. right here we discover no longer one trustworthy narrator yet “unreliable” narrators: the younger guy who's a scholar on the “school for fools” and his double. What starts as a reverie (with widespread interruptions) involves appear a kind of fairy-tale quest now not for gold or marriage yet for self-knowledge. The currents of awareness working in the course of the novel are passionate and profound. stories of adolescence summers on the dacha are contemporaneous with the current, the useless are alive, and the liked is found in the wind. here's a story both of insanity or of the lifetime of the mind's eye, in dialog with cause, straining on the limits of language; within the phrases of Vladimir Nabokov, “an mesmerizing, tragic, and touching work.”
Sasha Sokolov was once born in 1943 in Canada, the son of a high-ranking Soviet diplomat. Sokolov studied journalism at Moscow nation collage and tried to flee from the USSR, for which he was once imprisoned. In 1975, he used to be allowed to go away the rustic following a world human rights scandal. The manuscript of A tuition for Fools, his first novel, used to be smuggled out of the Soviet Union that very same yr, and released to nice acclaim within the west. A college for Fools has been translated into over twenty languages. Sokolov is the recipient of the celebrated Andrei Bely Prize in 1981, and of the Pushkin Prize for Literature in 1996. he's additionally the writer of novels Astrophobia and Between puppy and Wolf, and of a e-book of essays In the home of the Hanged.
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Extra resources for A School for Fools (New York Review Books Classics)
Only in the case of Kees, the big-breasted blonde daughter, the alarm remains mute. Since most members carried a weapon, the guard asks her whether she has none. No, Kees replies in a seductive tone, but ‘you are permitted to search me anyway,’ which clearly hints at her sexual availability for men. In this scene as well as in several others, Kees uses her body as a sexual commodity in such an obvious manner that it might offend anyone with only the slightest feminist sensibilities. Those who regard sexism as a serious and problematic issue will be inclined to reject the comic value of such a scene, but as the suggestion runs, those who laugh heartily are apparently more indifferent to sexism.
But now let me explain why this laughter can also be termed subversive, and here I refer to one of the most thought-provoking books written on comedy, Alenka Zupancic’s The Odd One In (2008), in which she tries to reconsider common notions about humour and laughter from a predominantly Lacanian angle. The point of a comedy, she claims, is not to convince us that we are ‘only human,’ endowed with regrettably weak and fallible characteristics. As Lacan has claimed, the laughing stock is not the simpleton who erroneously believes he is a king, but the king who really believes he is a king (Zupancic, 32), which she translates, in different wording, into: The biggest fool is the one who will do anything not to be fooled (84).
The mayor of Zonnedael, however, behaves in an opportunistic way for he misuses the exchange programme to get rid of the troublesome family. One might argue that he does his own community a great service – as a mayor is supposed to do – but it is also a foul trick at the expense of the American guests. Because of the cross-cutting between the mayor’s office and the ruined residence of the Flodders, we understand the mayor’s vicious strategy in selling his guests a pup. We know what the Americans do not know (yet), namely that the mayor has told them a lie: the pictures of the Flodders were not of them at a costume party, but of them in their habitual clothing.
A School for Fools (New York Review Books Classics) by Sasha Sokolov