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Dead Souls

Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol

Book Overview: 

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russian writer, is one of the most prominent works of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an “epic poem in prose”, and within the book as a “novel in verse”. Despite supposedly completing the trilogy’s second part, Gogol destroyed it shortly before his death. Although the novel ends in mid-sentence (like Sterne’s Sentimental Journey), it is usually regarded as complete in the extant form.

In Russia before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, landowners were entitled to own serfs to farm their land. Serfs were for most purposes considered the property of the landowner, and could be bought, sold, or mortgaged against, as any other chattel. To count serfs (and people in general), the measure word “soul” was used: e.g., “six souls of serfs”. The plot of the novel relies on “dead souls” (i.e., “dead serfs”) which are still accounted for in property registers. On another level, the title refers to the “dead souls” of Gogol’s characters, all of which visualize different aspects of poshlost (an untranslatable Russian word which is perhaps best rendered as “self-satisfied inferiority”, moral and spiritual, with overtones of middle-class pretentiousness, fake significance, and philistinism). (Summary from Wikipedia.)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . hue of the walls, and consorted well with the flowered pitchers painted on the shutters.

Ascending the narrow wooden staircase to the upper floor, and arriving upon a broad landing, Chichikov found himself confronted with a creaking door and a stout old woman in a striped print gown. "This way, if you please," she said. Within the apartment designated Chichikov encountered the old friends which one invariably finds in such roadside hostelries—to wit, a heavy samovar, four smooth, bescratched walls of white pine, a three-cornered press with cups and teapots, egg-cups of gilded china standing in front of ikons suspended by blue and red ribands, a cat lately delivered of a family, a mirror which gives one four eyes instead of two and a pancake for a face, and, beside the ikons, some bunches of herbs and carnations of such faded dustiness that, should one attempt to smell them, one is bound to burst out sneezing.

"Have you a sucking-pig?" Chichik. . . Read More

Community Reviews

2.0 stars. As much as I hate to say this about a book that is both a classic of Russian literature and considered one of the best satires ever written, THIS BOOK BORED ME TO DEATH!!! Okay, not quite "coffin ready" dead, but certainly bored to the point of suffering intermittent bouts of narcoleps...more

Myórtvyjye dúshi = Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol (1809 - 1852)
Dead Souls (Russian: Мёртвые души, Myórtvyjye dúshi) is a novel by Nikolai Gogol, first published in 1842, and widely regarded as an exemplar of 19th-century Russian literature. The purpose of the novel was to demonstrate the flaws and fau...more

”What was the riddle, indeed, what was the riddle of the dead souls? There was no logic whatsoever in dead souls. Why buy dead souls? Where would such a fool be found? What worn-out money would one pay for them? To what end, to what business, could these dead souls be tacked? And why was the gove...more

The book goes way back to 1842, before Russian serfs were emancipated in 1861. It’s considered a picaresque novel; Don Quixote-ish – a journey with a lot of satire and absurd situations with a rascal as a main character, a man who always has a get-rich-quick scheme going. He’s kind of happy-go-lu...more

An absurd and brilliant satire. To think I avoided reading this novel for years because I thought it was going to be depressing. Ha! Dead Souls reminded me in many ways of the Odyssey + Don Quixote written by Mark Twain in a Russian prose poem. Gogol captures the absurdity of the mid-19th century...more

دوستانِ گرانقدر، این داستان که یکی از آثارِ بینظیر در ادبیاتِ کلاسیک و ادبیاتِ روس به شمار می آید، از دو جلد و 348 صفحه تشکیل شده است که جلد اول شاملِ 11 فصل و جلدِ دوم شاملِ 5 فصل میباشد
داستان در موردِ مردی به نامِ «ایوان ایوانوییچ چیچیکوف» است که به صورتِ مسافر و مهمان به سراغِ مالکان و زمین دا...more

Nikólai Gógol es considerado uno de los padres de la literatura rusa junto con el eterno Alexandr Pushkin. Es gracias a ellos que Rusia fue conocida a nivel literario en toda Europa. Gógol, originario de la “pequeña Rusia” como se denominaba a Ucrania en los tiempos de los zares fue el pionero de...more

Η Wall Street των νεκρών ψυχών στην τσαρική Ρωσία του 19ου αιώνα.

Σε ένα βαθύτερο επίπεδο το βιβλίο αυτό είναι μια διαχρονική μελέτη των ανθρωπίνων αδυναμιών, της χρυσής μετριότητας ως ιδιότητα των κοσμικών παθών.

Μπροστά στο κέρδος και την κοινωνική καταξίωση, έστω κι αν τεκμαίρεται απο την εδρα...more

Gogol's "Dead Souls" is a true masterpiece. It is the only Russian novel that I have read that brings me as much deep satisfaction as Dostoevsky’s great novels. The novel is satirical, intellectual, political, and also entertaining.

The intriguing plot is sketched as follows:

A somewhat mysterious...more

DEAD SOULS by Nikolai Gogol

Every writer carries with him an essential book, the work in which he has to "tell everything". From the day he saw it, when he began to realize it, to think of himself, his vision of the world and the conception of his own life revolve around this pole; the work become...more

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