Dead Souls: A Novel

Dead Souls: A Novel

by Nikolai Gogol
4.1 14

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Overview

Dead Souls: A Novel by Nikolai Gogol

Since its publication in 1842, Dead Souls has been celebrated as a supremely realistic portrait of provincial Russian life and as a splendidly exaggerated tale; as a paean to the Russian spirit and as a remorseless satire of imperial Russian venality, vulgarity, and pomp. As Gogol's wily antihero, Chichikov, combs the back country wheeling and dealing for "dead souls"--deceased serfs who still represent money to anyone sharp enough to trade in them--we are introduced to a Dickensian cast of peasants, landowners, and conniving petty officials, few of whom can resist the seductive illogic of Chichikov's proposition. This lively, idiomatic English version by the award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky makes accessible the full extent of the novel's lyricism, sulphurous humor, and delight in human oddity and error.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307797810
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/22/2011
Series: Vintage Classics
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 738,086
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol was born in 1809; his family were small gentry of Ukrainian cossack extraction, and his father was the author of a number of plays based on Ukrainian popular tales. He attended school in Nézhin and gained a reputation for his theatrical abilities. He went to St Petersburg in 1829 and with the help of a friend gained a post in one of the government ministries. Gogol was introduced to Zhukovsky, the romantic poet, and to Pushkin, and with the publication of Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka (1831) he had an entrée to all the leading literary salons. He even managed for a short period to be Professor of History at the University of St. Petersburg (1834-5). Diary of a Madman and The Story of the Quarrel between Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan Nikiforovich appeared in 1934, The Nose in 1836, and The Overcoat in 1842. Gogol also wrote the play The Inspector (1836), Dead Souls (1842), and several moralizing essays defending the Tsarist regime, to the horror of his liberal and radical friends. He lived a great deal abroad, mostly in Rome, and in his last years became increasingly prey to religious mania and despair. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1848, but was bitterly disappointed in the lack of feeling that the journey kindled. He returned to Russia and fell under the influence of a spiritual director who told him to destroy his writings as they were sinful. He burned the second part of Dead Souls, and died in 1852 after subjecting himself to a severe regime of fasting.

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Dead Souls (Russian edition) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Avid_ReaderPA More than 1 year ago
This was a book club selection and only one person, out of 5, finished the book. To be fair, I only made it half way through. Although supposedly a newer, more engaging translation, I had a copy translated by Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear, it still read like dry Russian literature. The characters are all caricatures and blatantly so (note that this is the point of the book). The excessive detail is interesting if you are studying the period, but otherwise tedious.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book gave me an insight into 19th century Russian life and how serfs were treated by the nobility. The author also points out personality characteristics which are present in most people even now. I just wish that more info was given about the citizens of the town of N later in the novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A little more than halfway through this book, there's a line so funny, I gaurantee you'll laugh aloud when you come across it. I'm also sure you'll enjoy the entire book. You might think it's a serious book by reading the title 'Dead Souls,' but really it's not--it's funny. It's not all laughs though either. Near the end Gogol does get serious, and I wanted so much to hear him through, but his book is cut short! The most important part is taken away! But despite not having an ending, I still feel 'Dead Souls' is great and more than worth your while.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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