Dead Souls

Overview

Part I of Dead Souls was published in 1842. Part II of Dead Souls exists only in fragments. The novel belongs to the great unfinished works of world literature (such as The Aeneid) whose incompletion bothers us very little.
A few factual points ought to be explained to the reader, even though the novel itself eventually suffices to clarify some of them. First, the title of the book. Among Russian serf-owning gentry, the idiomatic way to assess someone’s wealth was to express it ...

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Dead Souls

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Overview

Part I of Dead Souls was published in 1842. Part II of Dead Souls exists only in fragments. The novel belongs to the great unfinished works of world literature (such as The Aeneid) whose incompletion bothers us very little.
A few factual points ought to be explained to the reader, even though the novel itself eventually suffices to clarify some of them. First, the title of the book. Among Russian serf-owning gentry, the idiomatic way to assess someone’s wealth was to express it in terms of the number of “souls” he owned—that is, male, adult serfs. Taxes on serfs had to be paid by the owner until the next census or registration date even if they may have died in the meantime. Gogol’s “dead souls,” in addition to this literal reference to serfs who had died since the last registration date for serfs, are also a metaphor for the dead moral and spiritual sensibilities of the many inhabitants of Gogol’s zoo. This title ran into trouble with Gogol’s censors, who held the ridiculous suspicion that the title might be a blasphemous attack on the immortality of the human soul. Gogol therefore added the title “Chichikov’s Adventures.”

From the award-winning translators of The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment comes a magnificent new translation of Gogol's final masterpiece. For the first time, Chichikov, Gogol's trafficker in "souls" (peasants who can be bought, sold, and mortgaged by landowers) is brought to life in an English edition that captures the writer's virtually comic and lyrical style.

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What People Are Saying

Clifford Odets
Where else has one met such a group of brawling men, all of them straining, pleading, expostulating - bellowing to be released from the printed page? In Homer, in Shakespeare, in Rabelais, but not in many other places. Here are characters who veritably fly at the reader's throat.
Clifford Odets
Where else has one met such a group of brawling men, all of them straining, pleading, expostulating - bellowing to be released from the printed page? In Homer, in Shakespeare, in Rabelais, but not in many other places. Here are characters who veritably fly at the reader's throat.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393006001
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/1971
  • Series: Norton Library Series
  • Pages: 478
  • Sales rank: 1,452,764
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) was a novelist and political satirist. The author of Dead Souls and The Overcoat, he was one of Russia’s greatest writers.

George Gibian was Goldwin Smith Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. His honors include Fulbright, Guggenheim, American Philosophical Society, and Rockefeller Foundation fellowships. He was the author of The Man in the Black Coat: Russia’s Lost Literature of the Absurd, The Interval of Freedom: Russian Literature During the Thaw, and Tolstoj and Shakespeare. He was the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and War and Peace, and Gogol’s Dead Souls, and of the Viking Penguin Portable Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader. Professor Gibian’s articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, the Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday, among others.

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2005

    A distinctively Russian classic

    One of the finest works of Russian literature, Gogol¿s DEAD SOUL epitomizes Russian soul at its purest, funniest, finest, richest, dreaririest, most charming and most hopeless state. Gogol utterly ridicules the Russian gentry in the middle of the 19th century in this story, centering on some dreadfully banal people who are trying to pull off a fraud. Exemplified by Chichikov who may be dividedly considered a scoundrel and a hero, Gogol portrayed to what length people can go to secure interests or benefits against over fellow humans considered to be of a lesser class. It is unfortunate that Gogol never finished this story. Overall, this amazingly entertaining classical novel deserves the highest of respects. In addition to UNION MOUJIK, TARAS BULBA, I also recommend classic Russian Stories like DEMONS, FATHERS AND SONS, and THE CHERRY ORCHARD. Once you get into Russian literature, you get to appreciate its supremacy.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2000

    Gogol speaks to the paper wealth of Modernity.

    This is a funny, touching novel. I picked it up as a lark because I have enjoyed the Pevear/Volkhonsky translations of Dostoyevsky works. Dead Souls is a deeply human story that speaks to our desire for social status even when we lack the means. Chichikov's insane plans seem to make more sense against the modern background of dime-a-dozen 'Internet Millionaires' and get-rich-quick schemes. This translation manages somehow to be laugh-out-loud funny, gut-wrenchingly tragic, and surprisingly fresh. A must-read for any Dostoyevsky fan.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2013

    Trua

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    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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