Nikolay Gogol

Dead Souls
  • Dead Souls

  • Brought to you by Penguin.

    Nikolai Gogol's 'epic poem in prose', Dead Souls is a damning indictment of a corrupt society, translated from the Russian with an introduction by Robert A. Maguire.

    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 'dead souls' as collateral to re-invent himself as a aristocrat. In this ebullient picaresque 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 (1842), Russia's first major novel, is one of the most unusual works of nineteenth-century fiction and a devastating satire on social hypocrisy.

    'Gogol was a strange creature, but then genius is always strange'
    Vladimir Nabokov

    'I admire the way in which Maguire has kept his own brilliantly variegated vocabulary away from 20th-century phrases, without ever looking parodic or antiquarian'
    A.S. Byatt, author of Possession

    © Robert A. Maguire 2004 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) was born in the Ukraine and left for St Peterburg at the age of 19 where he published a collection of short stories and for a short time held the post of professor of history at the university. Gogol's experience of life in St Petersburg informed his savagely satirical play, The Government Inspector, and a series of brilliant short stories including Nevsky Prospekt and Notes of a Madman. From 1836 to 48, Gogol lived abroad, mainly in Rome, where he was working on his comic epic Dead Souls - a work he wrestled with for the rest of his life before renouncing literature and burning parts of the manuscript shortly before he died.

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