Gogol Nikolai: Dead souls
Gogol Nikolai: Dead souls

Gogol Nikolai: Dead souls

Penguin Books
Tuotetta rajoitettu erä.
5,00 €

Penguin books, 1986. Softback. 382 pages. Condition: good. ISBN 9780140441130

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In Dead Souls Gogol set out 'to solve the riddle of my existence'. But both the novel and its author were overtaken by disaster in what is one of the strangest episodes of the literary history.

The first part of Dead Souls took eight years to write. It introduces Chichikov, a businessman who buys up the dead 'souls' or serfs whose names still appear on the government census. He is a phoney committing phantom crimes, dealing in paper ghosts, and the most devilish and beguiling product of Gogol's inspiration. By 1842, though, Gogol was racked by duty and doubt. He wanted, in the projected second and third parts of the novel, to somehow bring about Chichikov's spiritual regeneration, an aim which rapidly metamorphosed into a more grandiose ambition: to create 'a place of colossal dimensions', a masterpiece in which to house and display 'the untold riches of the Russian soul'. Over the next ten years, many of them spent travelling unhappily in Europe, Gogol's obsession intensified, eventually driving him to madness, religious mania and death. Dismissed by him merely 'a pale introduction to the great epic poem which is taking shape in my mind', Dead Souls is the culmination of Gogol's genius.