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- Review: Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol | Books | The Guardian
During one of these on 24 February , he burned most of the manuscripts of the second volume of Dead Souls. In despair at what he had done, believing himself to have been tricked by the Devil himself, Gogol took to his bed and refused all food, and died in agony nine days later at the age of forty-two.
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He was a deeply sensitive man, tormented throughout his life with moral and religious issues. His pictures of nature are strange mounds of detail heaped on detail, resulting in an unconnected chaos of things. His people are caricatures, drawn with the method of the caricaturist — which is to exaggerate salient features and to reduce them to geometrical pattern.
But these cartoons have a convincingness, a truthfulness, and inevitability — attained as a rule by slight but definitive strokes of unexpected reality — that seems to beggar the visible world itself. At the yovisto academic video search engine, you can learn more about the Russian author Nikolai Gogol in an extract from a public lecture delivered as part of the Dublin Festival of Russian Culture, examining the multicultural origins of many of the leading figures of Russian culture:.
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References and Further Reading:. Your email address will not be published. Nikolai Gogol Related Posts. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky — Founding Father of Astronautics. The Hyperbolic World of Vladimir Shukhov. Ann Radcliffe — Pioneer of the Gothic Novel. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.
Tweets by SciHiBlog. September For the following ten years, Gogol struggled to write a sequel to Dead Souls to no avail. He burned the manuscripts just days before his death in February of Dead Souls was written over a period of several years. The first few chapters were published first and were met with accusation of national betrayal. As a result, the final chapters of the work hint at an upcoming sequel which will portray the characters in a more positive light. Even though Gogol burned the manuscripts to the sequel, some notes and passages survived.
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
His attempt at shedding a more positive light on his story was unsuccessful. As he wrote from Italy, his homesickness shows in his descriptions of the Russian steppes. Dead Souls is not an epic novel and does not take long to read.
But, it is one which begs to be reread several times. The buying and selling of souls, dead or alive, is a morbid topic. Whether the merchandising of dead souls actually occurred is almost irrelevant to the deeper issue presented by Gogol; the value of human life. This is something he obviously struggled with. He died young at the age of just 41, only nine years before Alexander's Emancipation Edict. May 01, History Literature. Tags: serfdom gogol. About Us. Latest Posts. Useful Links. Our Contacts. Another reason why I never read Dead Souls is that I am reluctant to embark on unfinished works - I like closure.
At the end of part one, Gogol leaves Chichikov, in a famous and much-quoted lyrical description, rushing out in his troika into the magical and endless space that is "Rus", the spiritual home of Russians who all love fast driving. Part one was written not in Russia but abroad - mostly in Rome. Gogol knew it was a masterpiece and was always about to write part two.
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He had ambitions for it - it was to take the form of crime, punishment and redemption. While unable to finish - or to start on - part two, he wrote and published Selected Passages from Correspondence with My Friends. In these extraordinarily pompous documents he gives moralising advice to everyone.
A governor's wife must not pay visits but must find out all the unsavoury secrets of her husband's civil servants' wives, convert and chastise them. I had assumed in my ignorance that a novel called Dead Souls about the system of slave-owning was going to be a satirical criticism of it.
Review: Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol | Books | The Guardian
But in his letter To a Russian Landowner Gogol tells him that he must tell the peasants to work because God commanded them to work in the sweat of their brows, and gives instructions on how to punish them, and the pointlessness of teaching them to read. They will be too exhausted by good, hard work anyway. Gogol became very religious, and concerned for the safety of his own soul and the burden of his sins. Urged on by a spiritual advisor called Father Matthew, and by Count Alexey Tolstoi, he made a burned offering of his remaining manuscripts in his stove.
He then starved himself to death, having lost the drive to live. He ended his life in agony, festooned with leeches and soaked in cold water.
Dead Souls has that free and joyful energy of a work of art that is the first of its kind, with no real models to fear or emulate like Chaucer again, Shakespeare, or Sterne, whom Gogol admired. Without Gogol's imagination Dostoevsky would have been quite different, and Bulgakov less wildly inventive, perhaps. Chekhov and Turgenev owed him subtler things. Nabokov was right about his greatness, and right to point out that he was a creator of a new reality.
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