Dead Souls by Nikolay Gogol

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Synopsis

Chichikov, a mysterious stranger, arrives in the provincial town of 'N', visiting a succession of landowners and making each a strange offer. He proposes to buy the names of dead serfs still registered on the census, saving their owners from paying tax on them, and to use these 'souls' as collateral to re-invent himself as a gentleman. In this ebullient masterpiece, Gogol created a grotesque gallery of human types, from the bear-like Sobakevich to the insubstantial fool Manilov, and, above all, the devilish con man Chichikov. Dead Souls, Russia's first major novel, is one of the most unusual works of nineteenth-century fiction and a devastating satire on social hypocrisy.
 

About Nikolay Gogol

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Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), the son of a gentleman farmer who was the author of Ukrainian folk comedies, was born in the Ukraine and grew up on his mother's family estate. He attended a variety of boarding schools, where he proved an indifferent student and made few friends but was admired for his gifts as a comic actor. In 1828 he moved to St. Petersburg and began to publish stories, and by the mid-1830s he had established himself in the literary world and been warmly praised by Pushkin. In 1836, his play The Inspector-General was attacked as immoral, and Gogol went abroad, where he remained for most of the next twelve years. During this time he wrote two of his best-known stories, "The Nose" and "The Overcoat," and in 1842 he published the first part of his masterpiece Dead Souls. Gogol became ever more religious as the years passed, and in 1847 he fell under the sway of an Orthodox priest on whose advice he burned much of the second part of Dead Souls and soon gave up writing altogether. After undertaking a fast to purify his soul, he died at the age of forty-two. Donald Rayfield is emeritus professor of Russian and Georgian at Queen Mary, University of London.
 
Published July 29, 2004 by Penguin. 516 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Dead Souls

The Guardian

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Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol translated by Robert A Maguire 512pp, Penguin, £8.99 Dead Souls is, was, one of my entries for Humiliation, the game David Lodge invented about confessing great books you've never read.

Oct 30 2004 | Read Full Review of Dead Souls

The New York Review of Books

Gogol became ever more religious as the years passed, and in 1847 he fell under the sway of an Orthodox priest on whose advice he burned much of the second part of Dead Souls and soon gave up writing altogether.

Jul 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Dead Souls

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