Gogol's tale of a dismissed civil servant turned unscrupulous confidence man is the most essentially Russian of all the great novels in Russian literature. With its rich and ebullient language, ironic twists, and cast of comedic characters, Dead Souls (1842) stands as one of the most dazzling and poetic masterpieces of the nineteenth century. This brilliant new translation by Christopher English is complemented by a superb introductory essay by the pre-eminent Gogol scholar, Robert Maguire.
Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov makes his way through the rural Russian countryside visiting landowners and town officials in a scheme to buy up "dead souls"--serfs who have died since the last census. He secretly hopes to have enough "souls," at least on paper, for financial leverage in a real estate deal in eastern Russia. Chichikov is alternately welcomed and greeted with suspicion by villagers, lawyers, town presidents, fellow travelers, and retired military men. Through these characters, Gogol paints a semi-allegorical portrait of the attitudes, weaknesses, habits, and eccentricities of his fellow countrymen. Sometime after he began "Dead Souls" in the autumn of 1835, Gogol became more and more convinced that he was writing an epic that would embrace all of Russia. This ambition consumed him, and, although he worked tirelessly on this project until his death by fasting in 1852, the version of "Dead Souls", as it was published in 1841, remains the only finished volume of a projected three-volume work.
- Fiction + Literature Genres, Fiction + Literature Themes
- Human Qualities + Behavior, Literary, Classics, Stages of Life, Philosophy, Literary Genres + Types of Novels, Types of Characters, Society + Social Issues, Peoples + Cultures, Legal + Courtroom + Crime, Humorous Fiction
- August 3, 2009
- August 3, 2009
- Nikolai Vasil'evich Gogol