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Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

Dead Souls (1842)

by Nikolai Gogol

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5,47865792 (3.96)216
Title:Dead Souls
Authors:Nikolai Gogol
Tags:Format: Audiobook, Division: Fiction - novel, Genre: Realism

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Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842)

1001 (35) 1001 books (32) 19th century (230) 19th century literature (25) classic (110) classic fiction (17) classics (112) ebook (23) Everyman's Library (16) fiction (690) Gogol (49) humor (35) literature (205) Nikolai Gogol (18) novel (213) own (25) paperback (19) Penguin Classics (20) read (48) Roman (45) Russia (276) Russian (298) Russian fiction (60) Russian literature (420) satire (99) serfs (17) to-read (128) translated (18) translation (59) unread (41)

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Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
A very enjoyable read. I con man travels throughout Russia, meeting along the way fawning officials, an idealist egalitarian, an extreme economic liberal and your average everyday hollow shell whose sole existence is to impress others. So in other words, very much a story that fits right at home with today's society. Not much has changed in almost 200 years. ( )
  hhornblower | Apr 19, 2014 |
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Dead Souls is eloquent on some occasions, lyrical on others, and pious and reverent elsewhere. Nikolai Gogol was a master of the spoof. The American students of today are not the only readers who have been confused by him. Russian literary history records more divergent interpretations of Gogol than perhaps of any other classic.

In a new translation of the comic classic of Russian literature, Chichikov, an enigmatic stranger and schemer, buys deceased serfs' names from their landlords' poll tax lists hoping to mortgage them for profit and to reinvent himself as a gentleman.

My Review: No one seems to have pinned this work down as of yet. 172 years on, Gogol still eludes the butterfly net of scholarship. No one seems to argue that the book is not wryly amusing. That seems not to be enough, for some reason, to the literati.

Is it a satire? Hell, who cares!
“You can't imagine how stupid the whole world has grown nowadays. The things these scribblers write!"
“However stupid a fool's words may be, they are sometimes enough to confound an intelligent man.”
“But wise is the man who disdains no character, but with searching glance explores him to the root and cause of all.”
Satire? Maybe. Funny and snarky and ironic? Oh yes. I've read that some scholars compare the, to be kind, circularity of the plot to [The Odyssey]. Ummm, okay. Some offer Christian subtexts to the idea of buying and selling souls as a commentary on the...yech, whatever, the book is a fun and funny way to wile away a few hours.

Gogol himself considered this a prose poem, and I suspect he called it that so he'd be free of the shackles of novelistic convention. Let him loose, don't lard in your expectations of what a text must or must not do, and smile:
“The current generation now sees everything clearly, it marvels at the errors, it laughs at the folly of its ancestors, not seeing that this chronicle is all overscored by divine fire, that every letter of it cries out, that from everywhere the piercing finger is pointed at it, at this current generation; but the current generation laughs and presumptuously, proudly begins a series of new errors, at which their descendants will also laugh afterwards.”
Yes, lawd, you sing it Brother Nikolai!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ( )
1 vote richardderus | Apr 14, 2014 |
My reading history divides neatly along a pre-Gogol/post-Gogol line; this was the book that did it for me. ( )
  mattresslessness | Feb 4, 2014 |
Just like Tolstoy, Gogol seems to revel in torturing the reader with agrarian strategies, but the book is punctuated with so many wicked asides and hilarious vignettes - the drafts cheat was my favourite - that I ploughed ahead and finally managed to finish it. Unlike Gogol. ( )
  alexrichman | Jan 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (144 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gogol, Nikolaiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eliasberg, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Güell, Josep MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kalima, JaloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacAndrew, Andrew R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magarshack, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maguire, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noordzij, GerritCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, FrankForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Praag, S. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rayfield, DonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rayfield, DonaldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salden, HelmutTypographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmer, Charles B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wal, Theo J. van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A small, rather smart, well-sprung four-wheeled carriage with a folding top drove through the gates of an inn of the provincial town of N.; it was the sort of carriage bachelors usually drive in: retired lieutenant-colonels, majors, and landowners with about a hundred serfs - in short, all those who are described as gentlemen of the 'middling' station of life.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679776443, Paperback)

A socially adept newcomer fluidly inserts himself into an unnamed Russian town, conquering first the drinkers, then the dignitaries. All find him amiable, estimable, agreeable. But what exactly is Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov up to?--something that will soon throw the town "into utter perplexity."

After more than a week of entertainment and "passing the time, as they say, very pleasantly," he gets down to business--heading off to call on some landowners. More pleasantries ensue before Chichikov reveals his bizarre plan. He'd like to buy the souls of peasants who have died since the last census. The first landowner looks carefully to see if he's mad, but spots no outward signs. In fact, the scheme is innovative but by no means bonkers. Even though Chichikov will be taxed on the supposed serfs, he will be able to count them as his property and gain the reputation of a gentleman owner. His first victim is happy to give up his souls for free--less tax burden for him. The second, however, knows Chichikov must be up to something, and the third has his servants rough him up. Nonetheless, he prospers.

Dead Souls is a feverish anatomy of Russian society (the book was first published in 1842) and human wiles. Its author tosses off thousands of sublime epigrams--including, "However stupid a fool's words may be, they are sometimes enough to confound an intelligent man," and is equally adept at yearning satire: "Where is he," Gogol interrupts the action, "who, in the native tongue of our Russian soul, could speak to us this all-powerful word: forward? who, knowing all the forces and qualities, and all the depths of our nature, could, by one magic gesture, point the Russian man towards a lofty life?" Flannery O'Connor, another writer of dark genius, declared Gogol "necessary along with the light." Though he was hardly the first to envision property as theft, his blend of comic, fantastic moralism is sui generis.--Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:58 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In this comic classic of Russian literature, Chichikov, an amusing and often confused schemer, buys deceased serfs' names from landlords' poll tax lists hoping to mortgage them for profit.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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Five editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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