Tattered Cloak

Berberova, Nina. The Tattered Cloak and Other Novels. Translated by Marian Schwartz. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

The Tattered Cloak is one of six novels in Berberova’s book of the same name. Well, she calls them novels. Each story is under 100 pages so ‘novella’ might be a better description. The six stories are as follows (with my favorites being the first two),

  • “The Resurrection of Mozart” ~ the  coming of World War II
  • “The Waiter and the Slut” ~ one woman’s tragic effort to stave off loneliness and growing old
  • “Astashev in Paris” ~
  • “The Tattered Cloak”
  • “The Black Pestilence” and,
  • “In Memory of Schliemann”

All stories are written in that traditional stark Russian way. Most of the stories leave you hanging in that, “and then what happened?” kind of way. For example in “The Resurrection of Mozart” the reader is left asking did they escape the war or did they wait too long?

Lines I loved: “…and Maria Leonidovna felt that he was about to tell her something she would remember for the rest of her life” (p 23) and “I feared life and I believed in it” (p 166).

Reason read: December 31st 1976 was the coldest day in Russia. I’m reading a Russian author to celebrate frigid Russia.

Author fact: Berberova emigrated to America after living in Paris.

Book trivia: None of the libraries in my immediate area had a copy of The Tattered Cloak. My copy came from the Brookline Public Library.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Russian Heavies” (p 210). Interestingly enough, Pearl calls the book The Tattered Cloak and Other Stories while my copy is The Tattered Cloak and Other Novels. I think Pearl’s title is more accurate but I have to go with what’s in my hand.



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