The Cloak

Read by Bob Neufeld

(4.7 stars; 239 reviews)

"The Cloak" is a short story by Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842. The story and its author have had great influence on Russian literature, as expressed in a quote attributed to Fyodor Dostoevsky: "We all come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat'." The story has been adapted into a variety of stage and film interpretations. (1 hr 19 min)


Part 1 38:33 Read by Bob Neufeld
Part 2 40:58 Read by Bob Neufeld


Relevant for as Long as There Are Bureaucrats

(5 stars)

Until now I had only encountered the reader Bob Neufeld in the group presentations of various plays. He has the perfect voice for many-an-older male character. The Cloak is told by an unidentified narrator, and somehow the reader suits the telling perfectly. Listeners may find the opening a bit slow when the narrator relates how the easily mocked, easily overlooked low-level bureaucrat Akaky Akakievich receives his name. Knowing no Russian, the joke would have sailed right over my head, had I not ventured over to Wikipedia to learn a little more about The Cloak, or The Overcoat, as the story is also known. I wish to add the following quote from Wikipedia as it may help other listeners understand why that part of the story is essential: ...The name Akaky Akakievich is similar to "John Johnson" and has similar comedic value; it also communicates Akaky's role as an everyman. Moreover, the name sounds strikingly similar to the word "obkakat'" in Russian, which means "to smear with excrement," or kaka, which means "poop", thereby rendering his name "Poop Poopson". In addition to the scatological pun, the literal meaning of the name, derived from the Greek, is "harmless" or "lacking evil", showing the humiliation it must have taken to drive his ghost to violence. ... In modern bureaucracies there are doubtless rules that keep the important persons from speaking to their subordinates so harshly. No doubt quite as much can be said in tone or gesture. Therefore, this story remains relevant and shall remain for as long as there are bureaucracies and bureaucrats.

Touching and Ethereal

(5 stars)

Excellent reading by Mr Bob- I love the tone of his voice. This story by Gogol is great; sad and heart warming together, yet a bit haunting and thrilling at the end. A poor, lonely man gets a new a cloak- this tells of what happens that leads him to it and what transpires after the new cloak. Would definitely read some more Gogol.

Short story with a big meaning

(3 stars)

As always Bob Neufeld did a great job reading this. For such a short story it packs a lot of satirical punch. At the first glance it's just a story about a guy needing a new coat, saving for the coat, getting the coat, being robbed of the coat, trying to get the coat back, getting sick, dying and exacting revenge as a ghost - weird but straightforward. When you think about the different aspects of the story you see the satire. Everything from bureaucracy to class systems to appearances is sometimes heavily poked fun at, like in the case of the various bureaucracies with which the main character comes into contact. Definitely a good introduction to Gogol and Russian literature as whole. No matter when you read this, before or after other Russian authors, you'll be able to trace many elements back to Gogol and this story in particular.

(5 stars)

Story is moralistic: your evil deeds will follow you until you repent (If only that were true). This Russian folktale uses magic in the form of a victim-come-ghost who frightens his guilt-ridden assailant, and then demands, and ultimately receives, restitution. If any listener/reader remembers the Mother Goose story, “Teeny Tiny Woman”, they will recall a similarly simple magical tale of retribution, replete with a guilt-ridden assailant who succumbs to ghostly whispered recriminations. Expertly read.

a cloak with many threads....

(5 stars)

It's understandable why Gogol was an inspiration to later great Russian writers. The tone and style are disarming and draw one it. As I ponder this work, I'm struck by its layering and depth, as well as the many questions it brings. Truly makes one consider ones life... Thank you again for so many wonderful readings!

Well spoken

(5 stars)

This is done well. A good story to listen to if you have a few moments. The reader is clear and dramatic in areas where it adds to the portrayal of the story line. wished all the people that read was as understandable as this.

(5 stars)

Also known by the title The Overcoat, Mr. Bob Neufeld is excellent in this narration of a classic. This is one of my favorite audiobooks of all time!

Look behind you!!

(5 stars)

A very satirical (especially to those who are fluent in Russian languages) and meaningful book, read masterfully by Mr. Neufeld, as always.