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DEAD SOULS, first published in 1842, is the great prose classic of Russia. That amazing institution, "the Russian novel," not only began its career with this unfinished masterpiece by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, but practically all the Russian masterpieces that have come since have grown out of it, like the limbs of a single tree. Dostoevsky goes so far as to bestow this tr DEAD SOULS, first published in 1842, is the great prose classic of Russia. That amazing institution, "the Russian novel," not only began its career with this unfinished masterpiece by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, but practically all the Russian masterpieces that have come since have grown out of it, like the limbs of a single tree. Dostoevsky goes so far as to bestow this tribute upon an earlier work by the same author, a short story entitled "The Cloak"; this idea has been wittily expressed by another compatriot, who says: "We have all issued out of Gogol's Cloak."


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DEAD SOULS, first published in 1842, is the great prose classic of Russia. That amazing institution, "the Russian novel," not only began its career with this unfinished masterpiece by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, but practically all the Russian masterpieces that have come since have grown out of it, like the limbs of a single tree. Dostoevsky goes so far as to bestow this tr DEAD SOULS, first published in 1842, is the great prose classic of Russia. That amazing institution, "the Russian novel," not only began its career with this unfinished masterpiece by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, but practically all the Russian masterpieces that have come since have grown out of it, like the limbs of a single tree. Dostoevsky goes so far as to bestow this tribute upon an earlier work by the same author, a short story entitled "The Cloak"; this idea has been wittily expressed by another compatriot, who says: "We have all issued out of Gogol's Cloak."

30 review for Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Fiction, Classics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    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 narcolepsy. I can certainly say without hyperbole that this is not a book I would recommend as an “enjoyable” experience, no matter how much Vodka you have standing by. My assessment of the book arises DESPITE the 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 narcolepsy. I can certainly say without hyperbole that this is not a book I would recommend as an “enjoyable” experience, no matter how much Vodka you have standing by. My assessment of the book arises DESPITE the fact that the novel is very well written and gives an excellent description of “old” Russia (cold, dreary and depressing but otherwise a great place to visit). The historical detail is both precise and very broad as Gogol includes in the narrative detailed discussions of many aspects of Russian life from the economy to social life to politics to the very unique mindset of the Russian people. Thus, as a historical overview of a not very well known period of Russian history the novel is very good. In addition, the basic plot itself (or at least the idea of the plot) was very interesting. The “dead souls” of the title refers to the measuring unit (i.e., souls) used by the Russian census takers to count the numbers of serfs that landowners owned. Serfs, while not exactly the same as slaves, are similar enough for purposes of this review as they were considered property and had very few rights. The taxes that Russian landowners paid during this time were based on the number of serfs they owned. Anyway, the main character of the novel, Pavel Ivanovitch Chichikov, devises a plan to “purchase” from various landowners those serfs who have died since the last census but are still listed as alive for purposes of the taxes paid (at least until the next census which is only done every 5 to 10 years). Why he wants to do this, I will not spoil but it is very clever and I thought an excellent basis for a good story. So we have a book that is very well written, full of superb historical detail and an original and potentially interesting plot. So what was the problem? Well, first off...NO VODKA!! No, in all seriousness, I found the book to be simply way too dull and plodding. The satirical elements were UNDERWHELMING (and that is being kind) and the story was just incredibly slow to unfold. I kept trying to give this the benefit of the doubt, it is a classic after all, but it was just determined to remian not very interesting or enjoyable. The various characters Chichikov encounters were intended to portray various types of Russians and I guess I was not familiar enough with the period to understand the nuances (and thus the intended caricature) that Gogal was trying to highlight. Therefore, the various encounters just sort of bled into one another and left me anxious for the end. In sum, this was a book that I could appreciate on many levels (the quality of the writing, the historical detail, the cleverness of the plot) and there were certainly moments of the story that I truly liked. However, at the end of the day, from the standpoint of my enjoyment of the novel as literature, I can not rate it higher than two stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fernando

    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 la literatura moderna, además de perfeccionar junto con Pushkin la manera de escribir, así también como dar a conocer a Rusia al lector común, además de los estratos literarios más sofisticados. Luego d 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 la literatura moderna, además de perfeccionar junto con Pushkin la manera de escribir, así también como dar a conocer a Rusia al lector común, además de los estratos literarios más sofisticados. Luego de período ucraniano, Gógol se traslada a San Petersburgo a vivir, razón por la cual su obra de desdobla en estos dos lugares. La obra de Gógol no es tan extensa como la de otros autores rusos, pero marcó a fuego con su talento narrativo a todas las generaciones subsiguientes en su país y destaco entre todos ellos a Fiódor Dostoievski quien ya había acuñado su frase ”Todos descendemos del capote de Gógol” y a Lev Tolstoi, quien seguramente se haya inspirado en esta extensa novela para escribir uno de sus cuentos más geniales, me refiero a “Cuánta tierra necesita un hombre” en donde emparenta el afán de conseguir tierras del personaje principal, Pajom con la obsesión de Chichikov por comprar almas muertas. En su obra encontramos sus cuentos más inmortales como "El Capote", "La Naríz", "Viy", "Diario de un Loco", esta novela, "Tarás Bulba" y obras de teatro "El Inspector", las cuales son pruebas inequívocas de su maestría literaria. “El Quijote ruso”, es como se denomina a Almas Muertas. Ni más ni menos. De hecho Gógol reconoce su inspiración en la obra cumbre de Cervantes, madre de toda la novela moderna puesto que el viaje de Chichikov traza un paralelismo con el de Don Quijote aunque sus finales son totalmente distintos. La concepción de esta obra por parte del autor le llevó mucho tiempo para lograr su publicación allá por 1842 y fue ampliamente aclamada por crítica y lectores. Su proceso fue largo y arduo, como lo cuenta Dostoievski en una carta a su hermano Mijaíl en mayo de 1858 cuando le dice "¿De dónde sacas tú que al primer intento se pueda pintar un cuadro? ¿Cuándo has adquirido esa convicción? Créeme a mí; para todo se requiere trabajo, una labor gigantesca. Ten la seguridad de que cualquier poema gracioso y ligero de Pushkin nos parece ahora a nosotros tan gracioso y ligero precisamente por lo mucho que lo trabajó y corrigió el poeta. Esa es la verdad. Gógol tardó ocho años en escribir su Almas Muertas. Todo lo que sale de un tirón está todavía verde. Dicen que en los manuscritos de Shakespeare no se advierten tachaduras. Pues por eso, precisamente, presenta tales monstruosidades y pruebas de mal gusto; si hubiera trabajado más, le habría salido mejor.” Almas Muertas, por consiguiente es un libro largo, de apretadas y densas líneas, pero que son necesarias para desplegar toda la historia de Chichikov, este hombre tan particular que fatiga las estepas rusas en busca de hacendados que le vendan las almas, es decir los campesinos, que tienen en su poder y que han muerto pero que todavía aparecen en el Censo como vivos que realizaba el Estado ruso entre los terratenientes. Era normal designar con el mote de "alma" al campesino que trabajaba para ellos y de esa manera, sus propietarios podían tener trabajando veinte, cien o quinientas almas en sus tierras. El proyecto de Chichikov es comprar esas almas haciendo un contrato de traspaso para después hacerlos figurar como propios en unas tierras que tiene pensado comprar en la ciudad de Kherson, un remoto pueblo perdido dentro del vasto suelo ruso. Chichikov es un hombre refinado, pero taimado, tiene una avaricia por la compra de almas que lo transforma en un comprador lisonjero y astuto y es capaz de hacer cualquier cosa con tal de conseguir lo que quiere. Él va atravesando ciudades (aunque gran parte de la novela sucede en la ciudad de N.), en su calesín acompañado de su lacayo Petrushka y su cochero Selifan que ofician como dos Sancho Panza de menor injerencia que el famoso personaje español. El talento de Gógol en esta novela es el que precisamente también caracterizó a Pushkin y me refiero a que era un conocedor total de todos los estratos sociales de Rusia. Y los conocía como la palma de su mano. Este autor podía describir con lujo de detalle a todas las clases sociales rusas, de hecho, aparecen en sus novelas campesinos, generales, terratenientes, sirvientes, policías, gobernadores, funcionarios burocráticos, doctores, comerciantes, lacayos, damas de la alta sociedad y muchos tipos de personajes más. Para redondear el concepto, Gógol nos muestra magistralmente a Rusia de una manera total. El libro se compone de dos partes bien diferenciadas, siendo la primera mucho más extensa que la segunda y también muy distinta en cuanto al aspecto narrativo. La primera, obviamente nos introduce de lleno en la vida de este particular personaje y nos cuenta todo lo que le sucede, pero la segunda es un tanto confusa. Constantemente aparecen frases entre paréntesis que dicen "(falta una hoja en el manuscrito original)" o "(en este punto se interrumpe el manuscrito)", con lo que no queda claro si el manuscrito al que se refiere es al del narrador o al del propio autor. Hasta da la sensación que el libro está inconcluso, aunque queda muy claro como termina la historia de Chichikov, algo que no voy a develar para todo aquel valiente lector que desee atravesar las cuatrocientas o quinientas páginas de las que se compone esta novela según la edición que se lea. Lamentablemente, la vida de Gógol tuvo un giro radical casi hacia el final de su vida, ya que luego de un viaje a Palestina en busca de sosiego espiritual, su salud se deteriora rápidamente y comienza a tener serios problemas de insania, fanatismo religioso y delirio místico, lo que lo lleva a auto infligirse de una gran culpa, despreciando todo lo hecho en su obra artística. Abrumado por sus propios demonios, Gógol quema el manuscrito de la segunda parte de Almas Muertas, imposibilitándonos de saber que hubiera sucedido en la posterior vida viajera de Pavel Ivánovich Chichikov. Almas Muertas es uno de los cinco libros rusos fundamentales para todo lector que quiera acercarse a la de literatura clásica rusa, asi como queda claro que Nikólai Gógol es uno de los padres de la literatura rusa. Y eso, no se discute.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    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 becomes the symbol of man, his message. It's about a crook, Pavel Ivanovich Tchitchikov. The latter has an extraordinary idea to make a fortune: he will redeem dead souls. In ancient Russia the peasants (dead so 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 becomes the symbol of man, his message. It's about a crook, Pavel Ivanovich Tchitchikov. The latter has an extraordinary idea to make a fortune: he will redeem dead souls. In ancient Russia the peasants (dead souls, as they were called), were considered to be a security: they were sold, bought, and the owner paid a tax per male and adult male head. The census was every ten years, so that in the meantime he continued to pay tax on all deceased serfs on his property. The clever and brilliant idea of Tchitchikov was to buy in good and due form dead souls since the last census: the owner would be happy to give a fictitious good and to free oneself of a real tax and everyone will find his account: nothing illegal in this transaction; and when the purchaser possessed a few thousand serfs, he carried his contracts to a bank in Moscow or St. Petersburg and borrowed a large sum on these securities. He would be rich and able to buy peasants of flesh and bones! In conclusion, this book by Gogol is a satire of human mediocrity and a virulent and ruthless criticism of Tsarist Russia.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vanja Antonijevic

    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 middle class man, named Chichikov, comes to a town and attempts to build prestige by impressing minor officials of the place. The man spends beyond his means in order to impress, and tries to befriend t 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 middle class man, named Chichikov, comes to a town and attempts to build prestige by impressing minor officials of the place. The man spends beyond his means in order to impress, and tries to befriend the townspeople in order to execute a curious little plan regarding the selling of "dead souls". The idea is that the Russian state taxes these landowners pay are based on the number of serfs (or "souls") on record. The problem is that many of these landowners must also pay for the serfs that have already died. It is these "dead souls" that Chichikov wants to buy from the landowners. He does not tell the owners why he wants the souls, but one can imagine that his plans are somewhat twisted... The novel is ultimately a social and political commentary involving exaggerated characters.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο Αμούν Arnum

    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 εδραίωση της ιδιοκτησίας πολλών, πάρα πολλών, αμέτρητων, νεκρών ψυχών, όλο το θεσμικό και αξιακό σύστημα με τα πολλά γρανάζια, «λαδώνεται» και λειτουργεί άψογα, μα κυρίως νόμιμα. Όλα πωλούνται, όλα αγοράζοντ 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 εδραίωση της ιδιοκτησίας πολλών, πάρα πολλών, αμέτρητων, νεκρών ψυχών, όλο το θεσμικό και αξιακό σύστημα με τα πολλά γρανάζια, «λαδώνεται» και λειτουργεί άψογα, μα κυρίως νόμιμα. Όλα πωλούνται, όλα αγοράζονται. Όσο μεγαλύτερη ζήτηση έχει η αγορά νεκρών ψυχών τόσο περισσότεροι δουλοπάροικοι πεθαίνουν ανεβάζοντας την αγοραστική τους αξία. Εξαργυρώνονται τα ομόλογα των νεκρών, αποφέρουν πλούτη και δόξα, παρ’όλο που είναι μια νόμιμα ακατανόητη αγοροπωλησία ως προς την χρεωστική και πιστωτική της έκβαση. Το άγριο σατιρικό χιούμορ του Γκόγκολ διαχέεται ορμητικά μέσα στο αιματηρό αυτό βιβλίο όπου οι ανθρώπινες ψυχές κοστολογούνται απο δωρεάν, δυο και ενάμιση ρούβλι ανα ψυχή ή πολλά περισσότερα. Εξαρτάται πάντα απο τον ιδιοκτήτη των ψυχών και την απληστία ή την ανάγκη του που θα καθορίσει την τελική τιμή. Ένας φιλόδοξος και αδίστακτος άνδρας, στην αγροτική Ρωσία του 19ου αιώνα φωτίζεται απο μια λαμπρή ιδέα που θα τον καταξιώσει κοινωνικά και οικονομικά. Φυσικά έχουμε ως βασικό δεδομένο πως το να φαίνεσαι πλούσιος ή το να είσαι στην πραγματικότητα είναι εξίσου σημαντικά. Επικρατούσα αβεβαιότητα που επιμένει να αξιολογεί τη ρωσική κοινωνία. Εμφάνιση πλούτου εξίσου σημαντική με τον ίδιο τον πλούτο. Ο ήρωας μας αγοράζει νεκρούς χωρικούς, οι οποίοι λόγω καθυστερημένων απογραφών των δουλοπάροικων εξακολουθούν να φαίνονται στα λογιστικά βιβλία ως ζώντες, εργαζόμενοι και αμειβόμενοι. Μια λαμπρή προϋπόθεση για καταξίωση κοινωνική, αποδοχή και ανερχόμενη θητεία μεταξύ ευχαριστημένων - καλολαδωμένων γραφειοκρατικών παραγόντων σε κάθε κλάδο. Στο πλαίσιο αυτό αντικατοπτρίζεται η ρωσική διαφθορά του δημόσιου τομέα και η ακριβέστατη εικόνα της συνειδητής ασχήμιας και της ηθικής αλλοτρίωσης. Το ύφος και το γράψιμο του Γκόγκολ είναι πυκνό, ιδιότροπο, ακατέργαστο και ελαφρώς κουραστικό. Ως κοινωνική κριτική με διαχρονική αξία και προφητική χροιά είναι μια σπουδαία και εξαιρετική δουλειά. Ως λογοτεχνικό έργο υποστηρίζεται απο την δική μου αξιολόγηση με ελάχιστο ενθουσιασμό. Καλή ανάγνωση. Πολλούς ασπασμούς.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    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 Russia. Included in Gogol's satire/farce is an absurd and brilliant look at the corruption of the government, the stratification of society, the pretentiousness of the Russian middle-class, etc. Anyway, 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 Russia. Included in Gogol's satire/farce is an absurd and brilliant look at the corruption of the government, the stratification of society, the pretentiousness of the Russian middle-class, etc. Anyway, the writing was amazing and the Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation was fantastic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    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 faults of the Russian mentality and character. Gogol portrayed those defects through Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov (Russian: Павел Иванович Чичиков) and the people whom he encounters in his endeavours. These pe Myórtvyjye dúshi = Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol (1809 - 1852) Dead Souls (Russian: Мёртвые ду́ши, 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 faults of the Russian mentality and character. Gogol portrayed those defects through Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov (Russian: Павел Иванович Чичиков) and the people whom he encounters in his endeavours. These people are typical of the Russian middle-class of the time. 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. The original title, as shown on the illustration (cover page), was "The Wanderings of Chichikov, or Dead Souls. Poema", which contracted to merely "Dead Souls". ... عنوانها: مردگان زرخرید - رعایای مرده (بردگان مرده)؛ نفوس مرده؛ اثر: نیکولای گوگول (نیکولای واسیلیویچ)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هفدهم ماه نوامبر سال 1991 میلادی عنوان: مردگان زرخرید - رعایای مرده (بردگان مرده)؛ اثر: نیکولای گوگول (نیکولای واسیلیویچ)؛ مترجم: فریدون مجلسی، مشخصات نشر: تهران، نیلوفر، چاپ دوم 1387، در 352 ص، شابک: 9789644483844؛ کتاب از متن انگلیسی برگردانده شده، ، چاپ نخست انتشارات رسانه در سال 1379؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسی قرن 19 م عنوان: نفوس مرده؛ اثر: نیکولای گوگول (نیکولای واسیلیویچ)؛ مترجم: کاظم انصاری، مشخصات نشر: ویرایش 2، تهران، نشر اندیشه، چاپ دوم 1369، در 348 ص، موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسی قرن 19 م گوگول بیشتر عمر خود را صرف «نفوس مرده» كرد، از نظرگاه ایشان میبایست نوعی کمدی الهی مدرن باشد که در آن قهرمان «پس از گذر از دوزخ»، به برزخ میرسيد، توبه میکند، و راه راست برمیگزیند، و سرانجام اگرنه به بهشتی زمینی، دستکم به زندگی معنیدار و اخلاقی، دست مییابد. در دهه ی پنجم قرن نوزده میلادی سلامتی گوگول به خطر افتاد. هنگامی که یقین کرد رو به مرگ است رویایی رازورانه بر او ظاهر شد که هرگز آن را بر دیگران فاش نکرد. ایمانی رازگونه به مذهب اورتودوکس روسی پیدا كرد و بر این اعتقاد شد که برای تعلیم «حقيقت» به ابنای بشر برگزيده شده است. نشانه های بارز این گرايش در مقالاتی تحت عنوان: «گزیده ای از مکاتبات با دوستان» مشهود است. ا. شربیانی

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maru Kun

    The hero of Dead Souls, Chichikov, these days would be Fabulous Chichikov. Sitting at his 40th floor, 200 West Street dealing desk Fabulous Chichikov’s eye would travel from screen to screen searching out deals in NINJA loans, distressed debt and CDOs squared. Debits and credits would flit in and out of his trading book as ephemeral as any Dead Soul. Instead of a “troika suitable for bachelors”, Fabulous Chichikov would travel by Uber limousine. He would move from Manhattan steakhouse to members o The hero of Dead Souls, Chichikov, these days would be Fabulous Chichikov. Sitting at his 40th floor, 200 West Street dealing desk Fabulous Chichikov’s eye would travel from screen to screen searching out deals in NINJA loans, distressed debt and CDOs squared. Debits and credits would flit in and out of his trading book as ephemeral as any Dead Soul. Instead of a “troika suitable for bachelors”, Fabulous Chichikov would travel by Uber limousine. He would move from Manhattan steakhouse to members only night-club to hotel suite where he would “execute transactions” with “counterparties”, each deal bigger and more grotesque than the last. Mexican immigrants working in hundred degree restaurant kitchens would prepare Fabulous Chichikov Michelin-starred molecular gastronomy while bartending Humanities MAs mix his Negronis. But these attendants to Fabulous Chichikov’s whims are as irrelevant to this story as any of Gogol’s muzhiks to the original Chichikov. Sobakevich is the subtle hedge fund manager, promising his regulator that every loan he sold to Fabulous Chichikov was good. Manilov is inherited wealth, inviting Fabulous Chichikov to his Upper East side apartment to dine with his trophy wife. The Widow Korobochka is the dim-witted insurance company executive, unsure whether or not to buy into one of Fabulous Chichikov’s deals. Nozdrev is the the coked-out dealer looking for his last big trade. But the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is on our hero’s tail. A new administration is asking questions. Senators are meeting with their lawyers. Fabulous Chichikov e-mails his girlfriend: “As more and more leverage enters the system the whole building is about to collapse! The only potential survivor is the Fabulous Chichikov, standing in the middle of all the complex highly leveraged exotic trades I created without necessarily understanding all of the implications...”. It’s time for our hero to take a limousine to Teterboro airport. He can board his private jet (all Americans who can afford one love to ride in private jets) and slumber at thirty thousand feet, dreaming the great American Dream.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    What is this book? I can't remember any more if Gogol described it as a Poem or an Epic, maybe it doesn't matter what he called it since he had great chunks of the manuscript fed into the fire on the advice of his religious advisor. So we are left with part one, some bits of part two and an outline of the three part whole of the work, the rest having gone up in smoke. What there is of the first part is generally read as a comedy. It is funny, but bear in mind that the first part is about a young ma What is this book? I can't remember any more if Gogol described it as a Poem or an Epic, maybe it doesn't matter what he called it since he had great chunks of the manuscript fed into the fire on the advice of his religious advisor. So we are left with part one, some bits of part two and an outline of the three part whole of the work, the rest having gone up in smoke. What there is of the first part is generally read as a comedy. It is funny, but bear in mind that the first part is about a young man travelling around in rural Russia in the 1820s buying the souls of dead peasants from their masters. This isn't that kind of a supernatural book though, buying dead souls (the title was originally censored because as the Church teaches souls are immortal and can't be dead) was a reasonable financial undertaking at the time. Serfs could be mortgaged by their owners. Censuses in Imperial Russia were only undertaken once every twenty-five years and peasants who had died since the last one enjoyed a strange half-life in which they could still be mortgaged even though as assets they were completely non-liquid (at least financially speaking) since they were securely lodged in the graveyard. So we find our hero, or "hero", travelling about, meeting various members of the nobility and attempting to buy their dead souls from them. If you've read some of Gogol's short stories you'll have some idea of what to expect when a man meets various members of the nobility and attempts to acquire legal title to their dead serfs. If you haven't read some of his short stories - that's probably the best place to start... In the three part scheme there would have been a return to moral grace, but since this was burnt, with in the background as Nabokov describes the still youngish but dying Gogol with leeches hanging off his long nose, we're left instead with the tale of a wheeler dealer coaching round the bizarre and comical landowners that populated the imagined Ukraine of Gogol's pen.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amr Mohamed

    انا طلعت ظلمت كل الأسماء يا جماعة سارماجو خلي البطل كان بيكلم السقف وكنت زعلان..عمنا غوغول هنا بيوصف كل حاجة وفتفوتة فى الرواية يعني يوصف البيت حته حته ركن ركن بالخدامين بالسقف بالحيطان بالعواميد بكله ... ويوصف الابطال وهدومهم وبيجامة البطل وبعدين بقي يقولك مثلا البطل ده او الكمر ده في الحيطة بيفكرني بأله موسيقية ثانية واحدة اوصفلكم الألة الموسيقية يا دين النبي يابا احكي واخلص.. وشوية السواق بتاعه بيوصف ويرغي مع تلات حصنة واحد اسمه الارقط والتاني الاوسط والتالت اسمه كدا الحصان القريب ويعرف بالمست انا طلعت ظلمت كل الأسماء يا جماعة سارماجو خلي البطل كان بيكلم السقف وكنت زعلان..عمنا غوغول هنا بيوصف كل حاجة وفتفوتة فى الرواية يعني يوصف البيت حته حته ركن ركن بالخدامين بالسقف بالحيطان بالعواميد بكله ... ويوصف الابطال وهدومهم وبيجامة البطل وبعدين بقي يقولك مثلا البطل ده او الكمر ده في الحيطة بيفكرني بأله موسيقية ثانية واحدة اوصفلكم الألة الموسيقية يا دين النبي يابا احكي واخلص.. وشوية السواق بتاعه بيوصف ويرغي مع تلات حصنة واحد اسمه الارقط والتاني الاوسط والتالت اسمه كدا الحصان القريب ويعرف بالمستشار ..والله مش اسلوب مش الفضا قاتلنا يعني نقعد نتكلم مع الارقط..طب مش تسأل عن الاوسط لايكون زهقان مثلا..طب والمستشار كويس..مش عايز يقول حاجة بالمره.. لأ وكل شوية غوغول بيكلمنا اللى هو كل شوية معلش انا نسيت احكي للقارئ عن موضوع كذا...احكي واخلص...معلش انا عارف ان القارئ مش بيحب يعرف تفاصيل عن الطبقة الاقل منه... يا عم انجز وقول احنا اصلا تحت الطبقة الاقل حلو كدا.. عايز تقول ايه وقوله ما احنا بنتنيل نقرأ يعني مقلناش ثانية داخلين الحمام وراجعين احنا قاعدين ومركزين متفصلناش بقا.. طبعا نسيت اقولكم الرواية بتحكي عن ايه .انا مبدئيا مكملتهاش وصلت لصفحة 180 وكنت هتشل...البطل بيروح لكل واحد عند أنفار أو عمال ويقول له عندك كام عامل مات...انا عايز اشتريهم...خش بقا فى كام صفحة رغي وفصال ولا الوكالة...يعني عايز افهم هو ده قصد الكاتب ان اى حد لو مش لازمه حاجة ان شا الله ناس ميته ..بيقعد يفاصل ويغلي فى تمنها افهم يعني.. وبعدين بيقولك كان ليها جزء تاني وضاع ولا اتحرق حاجة كدا ..ثانية واحدة سجدة شكر لله عشان ضاع ...الحمد الله هيا ناقصة ...كان ممكن يوصف الرصيف ويقولك اسمه الايمن ويعرف باسم امجد..طبعا مش عايز اعرف النهاية عشان انا عارف ...اكيد نهاية مفتوحة مثلا ان البطل مكملش العدد الميتين اللى هو عايزه قام باعت رسالة للأرقط ومات

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maria Espadinha

    Insatisfação Degenerada "Almas Mortas" é uma crítica caricatural quer da sociedade excessivamente burocratizada da época, quer da ambição humana. Quanto a mim, a necessidade compulsiva de Tchíchikov acumular almas é uma caricatura da ambição material desmedida. A natural insatisfação humana, nem sempre escolhe os alvos mais indicados para se manifestar! Quando assim é, embarca num ciclo de acumulação infindável, pois as escolhas efectuadas não proporcionam a satisfação almejada! Julgo ser este estado Insatisfação Degenerada "Almas Mortas" é uma crítica caricatural quer da sociedade excessivamente burocratizada da época, quer da ambição humana. Quanto a mim, a necessidade compulsiva de Tchíchikov acumular almas é uma caricatura da ambição material desmedida. A natural insatisfação humana, nem sempre escolhe os alvos mais indicados para se manifestar! Quando assim é, embarca num ciclo de acumulação infindável, pois as escolhas efectuadas não proporcionam a satisfação almejada! Julgo ser este estado absurdo e degenerado que Gogol explora e satiriza, dando asas à sua imaginação dilacerante;)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Daniela

    4.5* In Dead Souls , a novel about Russia and what it means to be Russian, we follow the adventures of Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov who is probably literature's most endearingly dishonest character. After several attempts to grow rich and live a life of comfort, Chichikov comes up with a scheme of buying non-existent peasants in order to get a state loan on them, and, thus, making easy money out of nothing. The non-existent peasants are the title’s Dead Souls . They are those serfs who have already 4.5* In Dead Souls , a novel about Russia and what it means to be Russian, we follow the adventures of Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov who is probably literature's most endearingly dishonest character. After several attempts to grow rich and live a life of comfort, Chichikov comes up with a scheme of buying non-existent peasants in order to get a state loan on them, and, thus, making easy money out of nothing. The non-existent peasants are the title’s Dead Souls . They are those serfs who have already died but are counted as alive in the official lists since new census have not yet been made. The macabre use of these dead serfs is brilliant as it underlines the inhumanity of feudal Russia. The way I see it, Dead Souls is much more than a biting satire of a corrupted society. It is a criticism of a whole System of power in which corruption is only one of the many nefarious side-effects. And as it usually happens in such societies, it corrupts even industrious, hard working men. I think it’s difficult to argue that Chichikov was a n’er-do-well. That’s the whole point: he was intelligent, charming and dynamic. The fact that he chooses to be dishonest and apply his qualities to shady schemes says much more of the environment that surrounded him rather than an inborn bad faith.

  13. 5 out of 5

    peiman-mir5 rezakhani

    دوستانِ گرانقدر، این داستان که یکی از آثارِ بینظیر در ادبیات کلاسیک و ادبیات روس است، 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 دارانِ بزرگ رفته و پس از ورودش با چاپلوسی و تملق خودش را در دلِ زمین داران و اشخاصِ معروف و مقاماتِ دولتی، جا میکند و سپس پیشنهاد جالب توجه و عجیبی به آنها میدهد... این پیشنهاد از این قرار است: تقریباً هر ده سال به ده دوستانِ گرانقدر، این داستان که یکی از آثارِ بینظیر در ادبیات کلاسیک و ادبیات روس است، 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 دارانِ بزرگ رفته و پس از ورودش با چاپلوسی و تملق خودش را در دلِ زمین داران و اشخاصِ معروف و مقاماتِ دولتی، جا میکند و سپس پیشنهاد جالب توجه و عجیبی به آنها میدهد... این پیشنهاد از این قرار است: تقریباً هر ده سال به ده سال، دولت از کارگران و کشاورزانی که برای زمین داران و مالکین و اربابانِ روستایی، مشغول به کار هستند، سرشماری به عمل می آورد، و به ازایِ این کارگران، از مالکان و اربابان آنها مالیات دریافت میکند... حال در این مدت ممکن است چندین تن از این کارگرانِ روستایی بمیرند، که حتی در این صورت نیز مالک باید مالیات کارگر و یا کشاورزِ مرده را پرداخت نماید..... و امّا در این بین «چیچیکوف» از مالکان ثروتمند، کارگران مرده و یا همان "نفوسِ مُرده" را با قیمتی بسیار پایین خریداری میکند و مالیات آنها را متقبل میشود، ولی از طریقِ نامِ این کشاورزان یا همان "نفوسِ مرده" که دولت آنها را طبقِ سرشماری انجام شده، زنده به حساب می آورد، وام بانکی دریافت میکند در این داستان، «گوگول» با زبانی طنزگونه و البته نیشدار از نوع رفتار مردم در اجتماع و همچنین رشوه گرفتن و پارتی بازی و دروغ گویی و چاپلوسی و کلاه برداری و فساد و قانون شکنی هایِ مسئولین دولتی و سیاسیون انتقادهایِ بسیار جالب انجام داده است و به معنای واقعی کلمه، مسئولین دولتی روس را با قلمِ آتشینِ خویش، له کرده است درست است که شخصیتِ اصلی داستان یعنی «چیچیکوف» ممکن است کارهایش زشت به نظر برسد، امّا «گوگول» او را قهرمان داستان میداند و البته به نوعی حق دارد، چراکه شما با دقت کردن به روابط و معامله هایی که «چیچیکوف» در طولِ داستان با زمینداران و ارباب هایِ پولدار و شخصیت هایِ بزرگ انجام میدهد، متوجه بسیاری از کردارها و رفتارهای زشت و ناپسند میشوید و شما را بدین اندیشه فرو میبرد که انسان تا چه اندازه میتواند پست و زشت خو، باشد و جاه طلبی و اشتیاقِ به سود جویی چشمِ خردِ انسانیش را کور سازد این مردِ تیزهوش و زبان باز یعنی «چیچیکوف» از بلندبالاترین مسئولین دولتی و سیاسی همچون شهردار و استاندار و رئیس ژاندارمری را با رشوه هایی که میدهد در کارهایش شریک میکند تا کارگران و مستخدمین ارگانهای دولتی... همه و همه زنجیره وار مُشتی موجوداتِ بی شرافت و بدکردار هستند جالب است که در دلِ داستان بارها و بارها «گوگول» نصیحت ها و حتی هشدارهایی را به دولت روسیه و پادشاهیِ تزار و البته شاهزاده میدهد، و سالها بعد میبینیم که حق با «گوگول» بوده است. چراکه روسیه با انقلابِ بزرگش، تا مرزِ نابودی پیش رفت و روسیهٔ تزاری در باتلاقِ خودساخته ای فرو رفت در پایان به انتخاب بخش هایی از نوشته هایِ «گوگول» دراین کتاب، که به نظرم بسیار تأمل برانگیز بود را برایِ شما عزیزان در زیر مینویسم ***************************** بشر تا وقتی آنچه سببِ مناقشه و جدال و خونریزی است، رها نسازد و در راه صفایِ دل و روحِ خود نکوشد، هرگز ثروت و زندگانیِ این جهان را نمیتواند بر پایه ای رضایتبخش استوار سازد... همچنانکه گهگاه فقر و گرسنگی به سراغِ کشوری می آید، ممکن است به سراغِ تک تکِ افرادِ آن ملت نیز برود من میدانم که به هیچ وسیله و با هیچ تهدید و با هیچ نوع مجازاتی نمیتوان اعمالِ خلافِ قانون را ریشه کن کرد.. زیرا در میانِ ما بسیار عمیق ریشه دوانیده است... امروزه عملِ ناشرافتمندانهٔ رشوه خواری، حتی برایِ مردمی هم که برایِ بی شرافتی خلق نشده اند، امری واجب و ضروری شده است -------------------------------------------------- امیدوارم از خواندنِ این داستانِ زیبا، لذت ببرید «پیروز باشید و ایرانی»

  14. 4 out of 5

    Srividya

    The weather was hot and humid and conducive for only one thing, sleeping. I had finished Dostoevksy’s The House of the Dead and was looking forward to relaxing and thinking about how to write a review for that book. However, the pull towards another Russian, a Russian that D admired and a book and its characters that D referred to consistently in his book was just too much of a temptation to me. I had to read the book and understand why D, one of my favourite authors, felt so moved and inspired The weather was hot and humid and conducive for only one thing, sleeping. I had finished Dostoevksy’s The House of the Dead and was looking forward to relaxing and thinking about how to write a review for that book. However, the pull towards another Russian, a Russian that D admired and a book and its characters that D referred to consistently in his book was just too much of a temptation to me. I had to read the book and understand why D, one of my favourite authors, felt so moved and inspired by it. Needless to say, he wasn’t the only one, as there have been a whole host of writers who have been inspired by this author and this book. The author is Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol; and the book is Dead Souls. Like a moth to a flame, almost sensuously attracted, without a thought of my own in my mind, I just knew that I had to read this one. I didn’t think about the heat or the need to sleep or even the fact that I hadn’t written a review. Without feeling any guilt or any kind of remorse for not continuing the books that I had already started, I started my journey with Gogol and his topic of Dead Souls. Fool that I was, I didn’t realise how much I would have changed by the end of this adventure, I just jumped in and swam without a thought. Every author at some point in his life wants to write a book or does write one where he puts in his heart and soul and talks about everything that he has always wanted to talk about but refrained from doing so in his earlier works. Dead Souls is Gogol’s that book where we can see every nuance of his thoughts, his deepest fears, his outlook on life, about Russia and her people and just about everything that he wanted to share with his readers. And he does share it all, at least most of it, almost as if he knew that it was time to say everything, and he just couldn’t restrict himself any more. And it is a good thing that he did write this one for it is truly a brilliant book and its brilliance lies not only in the thoughts that he has shared but also in the approach he took while sharing them. Our hero in this book, Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov, isn’t your usual quintessential hero who is filled with virtue and good looks and just about everything that is usually found in a hero that you find in most books. No, he isn’t that at all and yet he isn’t an anti-hero either. Gogol describes him as “ a gentleman – not good looking but not uncomely in appearance either, not overly fat, nor overly thin. You couldn’t say he was old, yet you could not say he was overly young either.” In other words, he is just a normal human being with his virtues and flaws, both in looks as well as in personality, and Gogol deliberately makes him the hero of this book. Gogol introduces us to hero, describing his entrance in the town, which remains unnamed and the other characters of the town in this poem, as he calls it, with a satirical tone that makes for many a laugh as you progress. Our hero, Chichikov, enters the town with very little splash but soon makes up for it when he goes around paying his respect to the various key members of the town. The town and its people embrace him heartily and welcome him with love and affection, little do they know of the devious nature of our hero. Chichikov becomes one of theirs and he slowly reveals his real intention to visiting their town, which was to purchase dead souls. In old Russia, peasants were treated as souls who could be bought and sold and even mortgaged along with the land. This practice I believe, has been long abolished, but was still prevalent when Gogol wrote this book. What follows once our hero attempts to acquire these dead souls is a tale that reveals at once the fallacies of humans along with their naivete, the depths to which some would fall in their greed for making money, the ambiguous nature of laws prevalent in those days, the politics of the country and finally the vivacity of the Russian society. Under Gogol’s dexterous hands we are immediately drawn into the plot, which is tragi-comical in nature and which does not let go even at the end. Gogol’s wit is exquisite throughout this part, where he describes Russian society and the quirks of small town Russia. Every character, irrespective of how big or small his or her role is, is perfectly rounded and reflects the diverse types of people you would encounter if you were to travel around Russia. And for that matter, why only Russia, am sure you would encounter such people everywhere in the world, except for the fact that instead of vodka and zakuskis you would find something else that binds them together. The entire first part of this book is definitely a laugh riot, where you travel throughout this unnamed town and meet its various characters through the eyes of our hero whilst also being witness to their reaction once they learn about the real intentions of our hero’s visit to their town. The second part, which unfortunately has many pages missing, is written quite differently by Gogol. Where satire marked the entire first part, this one is less satirical and more honest and rich in its descriptions of the Russian countryside. Gogol, in this part, has tried to create a vivid picture, “Like the gigantic rampart of some endless fortress, with angle towers and embrasures, the hill heights ran their winding way for a thousand versts and more. Majestically they soared above the endless stretches of plains, now in escarpments, sheer walls of lime and clay fretted by gullies and cavities, now in gracefully rounded green swellings cloaked in lambskin like young brushwood springing from the felled trees, now, finally in dark thickets of woodland, so far spared the axe by some miracle. A river, true to its banks, now followed them in turns and twists, now left them for the meadows, then, bending itself into several bends, flashed fire like in the sun, hid itself in groves of birch, aspen and alder, and ran forth from them in triumph, attended by bridges, mills and weirs, which seemed to chase after it at every turn.” And the pictures don’t end there but go on to describing the lands of the various landowners whilst also describing the landowners themselves, all vying with each other to present a picture that is at once radiant and beautiful. Chichikov, as is his due, meets with a variety of landowners in this part as well. His character gets more rounded as we go through the story and we can see his thoughts getting more definition and his acts becoming more brazen. However, before we can truly sink into this, we are abruptly asked to move onto the third part. The third part is more of a concluding chapter that was written based on the guidelines that were found for taking the story forward. Therefore, while this part can be called a part where the hero seeks redemption for all his sins, it is too jumpy a text for us to truly make out whether the hero truly sought redemption or does his behavior change momentarily because of the circumstances that he found himself in. However, even though it is mere points and guidelines, you still see the strength of Gogol’s vision for his hero, for humanity and the beauty of his words stand strong. The turn of mind towards Christianity that was forged during the years when he wrote, burned, rewrote the second and third part can be seen strongly through his language, ideas and choice of words. It was a different Gogol who wrote it. Was he a better Gogol? One cannot say as one doesn’t have the full facts to look at but what one cannot do is ignore it. What you cannot do is deny the intelligence of that mind and his far reaching, often visionary thoughts. In short, irrespective of whether the book has a full second and third part or not, its brilliance is such that you cannot deny it. This book contains all that you can ever encounter, whether it is the depths of their depravity or the heights of their innocence, their insouciance and laissez faire attitude in some areas or their involvement and their propensity for gossip in other areas; you come across all this and more when reading this poem. No subject is taboo for Gogol, be it religion, philosophy, government practices, politics, crime and just about anything is present here and is available in a form that hits hard, even when you don’t want it to and you cannot deny its relevance even in today's world. The overt and subtle sarcasm that fills this book makes you think and feel all those things that are usually left best swept under the carpet, to be looked at some other day, a day which hopefully never arrives. You feel honour bound to hate Chichikov and ridicule most of the characters in this book and feel like telling the author that he has created something that doesn’t exist, and yet you cannot do that for the author presupposes this reaction of yours and deals with it in such a manner that doing so would make you look ridiculous, especially when the author forces you to ask yourself, “And isn’t there something of Chichikov in me too?” Chichikov and his travels around Russia, in his britska, stay with you even after you finish the book, and you can’t help but raise a silent toast to the master writer and acknowledge the truth, concerning humanity, concerning yourself, even if it is only silently and in your mind, for you have not the strength yet to speak out loud.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Here's a Russian douchebag. This is called poshlust, an untranslatable word referring to a kind of banal tackiness special to Russia. Here's another Russian douchebag: The stereotype goes all the way back to 1842 and Gogol's great antihero dandy grifter Chichikov, with his Navarino smoke-and-flame silk frock coat and his violet-scented snuffbox, and according to Nabokov poshlust is the great theme of this book, a definition of an essential theme of Russian character. Chichikov That's not what Gogol Here's a Russian douchebag. This is called poshlust, an untranslatable word referring to a kind of banal tackiness special to Russia. Here's another Russian douchebag: The stereotype goes all the way back to 1842 and Gogol's great antihero dandy grifter Chichikov, with his Navarino smoke-and-flame silk frock coat and his violet-scented snuffbox, and according to Nabokov poshlust is the great theme of this book, a definition of an essential theme of Russian character. Chichikov That's not what Gogol thought Dead Souls was about. He thought he was recreating the Divine Comedy; a morality tale, with three books corresponding to Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. He only finished the first one: in one of the great tantrums of literature, he burned most of his draft for the rest and then starved himself to death. Lucky for us, Inferno is always the good part. Gogol with his emo face on The fragments that survive of the rest of Dead Souls, like the ending of Crime & Punishment, get a lot less fun in a hurry. This is the thing about tales of redemption: the redemption is definitely not the fun part. But it's the first great Russian novel, and you can see prototypes here for Raskolnikov and Tolstoy's great conflicted landowner Levin. Book One of Dead Souls, which is about two thirds of what we have, is awesome. Vivid, surreal, funny, almost silly, as Gogol is. He's dead serious under that, of course, as they always are. Here's close enough to a mission statement:Some wondrous power has doomed me for a long time to walk hand in hand with my strange heroes, to survey in its entirety life that rushes along so massively, to survey it through laughter that is visible to the world and through tears which the world cannot see and does not know.Unfinished books are always frustrating, and I didn't enjoy the fragments after Book One. But that first bit is one of my favorite reading experiences this year. This is the great epic of Russian douchebaggery. Unbutton the top four buttons of your silk shirt and get psyched.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Magdalen

    ΕΚΠΛΗΚΤΙΚΟ ! Οι "Νεκρές Ψυχές" είναι ένα τόσο ρεαλιστικό βιβλίο που ίσως να αγγίζει τα όρια του τρομακτικού. Αθεράπευτα επίκαιρο πόσο μάλλον για την Ελλάδα του 2017 και ο νοών νοείτο... Δεν νομίζω ότι χρειάζονται συστάσεις για το βιβλίο καθώς όντας κλασικό  η υπόθεση του είναι γνωστή. Η πένα του Γκόγκολ είναι από τις πιο αγαπημένες μου. Καυτηριάζει, ειρωνεύεται και δεν αφήνει τίποτα μα τίποτα ασχολίαστο! Σου πετάει την ασχήμια της ρωσικής κοινωνίας στο πρόσωπο και εσύ δεν έχεις παρά να γελάσ ΕΚΠΛΗΚΤΙΚΟ ! Οι "Νεκρές Ψυχές" είναι ένα τόσο ρεαλιστικό βιβλίο που ίσως να αγγίζει τα όρια του τρομακτικού. Αθεράπευτα επίκαιρο πόσο μάλλον για την Ελλάδα του 2017 και ο νοών νοείτο... Δεν νομίζω ότι χρειάζονται συστάσεις για το βιβλίο καθώς όντας κλασικό  η υπόθεση του είναι γνωστή. Η πένα του Γκόγκολ είναι από τις πιο αγαπημένες μου. Καυτηριάζει, ειρωνεύεται και δεν αφήνει τίποτα μα τίποτα ασχολίαστο! Σου πετάει την ασχήμια της ρωσικής κοινωνίας στο πρόσωπο και εσύ δεν έχεις παρά να γελάσεις με το ύφος του. Είναι ο Γκόγκολ του παλτου που είχα αγαπήσει και όχι τόσο του Ταρας Μπουλμπα. Οι χαρακτήρες του από την άλλη, γνήσιες καρικατούρες. Ο ένας χειρότερος και πιο άπληστος από τον άλλον...Άκρως ρεαλιστικοί! Όπως και να 'χει βέβαια μιλάμε για ένα μικρό διαμάντι. Και δεν δύναται να χωρεσει ο νους μου πως γίνεται να έχει κάψει την συνέχεια! Και επειδή αν δεν το πω θα σκάσω. Ο Πάβελ Ιβανοβιτς Τσιτσικοφ θα μπορούσε κάλλιστα και το τονίζω αυτό να είναι ο Παύλος Τσιτσικοπουλος του Ιωάννη, ένας Νεοέλληνας του 21ου αιώνα.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tej

    Almost, one and a three quarters of a century ago, Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol-Yanovsky or simply, Gogol, himself lend words to the cries of dissent against the likes of him, “Don’t we ourselves know that there’s much in life that’s contemptible and stupid? As it is, we often have occasion to see things that are far from comforting. Better that you show us what’s beautiful and distracting. Better that we should forget ourselves!” That very arrogance and contempt has rocketed far beyond, eulogizing a Almost, one and a three quarters of a century ago, Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol-Yanovsky or simply, Gogol, himself lend words to the cries of dissent against the likes of him, “Don’t we ourselves know that there’s much in life that’s contemptible and stupid? As it is, we often have occasion to see things that are far from comforting. Better that you show us what’s beautiful and distracting. Better that we should forget ourselves!” That very arrogance and contempt has rocketed far beyond, eulogizing all that is trash and sadly, maybe for the very reason that it is trash. The measure of cinema, at least here in my part of the world is by the millions that it rakes in irrespective of the nature of content, millions are proportional to the trash really or there is that noise which must be called music, not to mention the TV. We all are a part of that and beyond a point not willful perpetrators but just so hard pressed by life that there is little or no time to bother. It struck me the most, Gogol’s desire to produce something of significance, with a potential inclination towards inculcating the seeds of change among the individuals, indirectly goading and exhorting them and to somehow impact positively their lives and times. His self-assessed inability to achieve that coveted goal in writing, to an extent, led him to inflict self-damage by starvation and ultimate demise not to mention the burnings he carried out of his manuscript more than once. The first part of ‘Dead Souls’ leaves you most pleasantly dumbfounded and marveling at the precocious genius of this artist who paints human beings in prose, smiling and even positively laughing alone along with him and then, the second part of the same, incomplete and inconclusive, concluded his life journey quite literally. You wonder, why not just to continue writing with the kind of talent you were bestowed with? But then that is you talking in 2013 where ‘callings’ and ‘inner-voices’ are the last things to determine what and when you do what. Sadly I got to read Gogol saying this, “God had taken away ‘for a long time my ability to create’, as a result of which ‘I have tormented myself, forced myself to write, suffered painfully at the spectacle of my impotence, and several times have made myself ill with the strain and have been unable to accomplish anything, and everything has come out forced and bad.’ ” Pavel Ivanovich ‘Chichikov’, our heroic anti-hero cajoles us to accompany him, on pretty much aimless travels he has undertaken only driven by a supposedly ingenious yet untested and unproven idea of taking advantage of a loophole in the system, which putatively shall translate into real capital and a consequent plum life for his self. He is in fact on the mission to swindle bounty out of the system, keeping low and warding of the reach of law till he attains an un-approachable respectability in the society. He has the gumption to enshroud this trickery in a veil of un-burdening the prospective clients of the burden of ‘dead souls’ or the dead serfs, the tax one is obliged to pay because these serfs are counted as alive on the rolls with no chance of them being ticked of as dead until the subsequent census. He offers to even pay for them, peanuts that is, an item that exists only in thin air and aspires to mortgage them as real serfs while becoming a land-owner himself. Armed with an utterly ingratiating and ‘toady’ character, he ventures thus on his endeavours, “My life can be likened, as it were, to a barque amid the waves, Your Excellency. I was swaddled, and one could say, wrapped in forbearance, myself being, so to speak, forbearance itself.” ………. “Somehow the new arrival was never at a loss for anything, and he came across as an experienced man of the world. Whatever the topic of conversation, he always knew how to hold up his end: if the talk was of stud farm, he too would talk of stud farms; if people were chatting of fine dogs, here too he would venture some very sensible observations; if the matter under consideration touched upon an investigation being conducted by the fiscal chamber, he showed that he was not ignorant of judicial hanky-panky; if the discussion turned to billiards, he didn’t let his end down when it came to billiards either; if people were talking about virtue, then he could discourse on virtue very well too, and even with tears in his eyes; if about the distilling of spirits, then he knew a lot about spirits as well; if about custom inspectors and officials, then he could also expiate on them as if he himself had been both an official and an inspector.” The rustic humor of the plot, in the dexterous hands of Gogol, is plied into a tragi-comic satire, one that embraces tightly, ingrained with a power to land hard blows with laughter. Gogol himself appears during the course of narration, monologues and casual talks flow, all of which happens in the ‘meanwhile’ in real time that is, which makes the text delightful. So much so, that even the carriage horses have their say at times. “With us it’s different: we have men so wise that with a landowner who has two hundred souls they will speak in an altogether different way than with one who has three hundred, and with one who has three hundred they will, again, speak otherwise than with one who has five hundred, and with one who has five hundred, again it will be otherwise than with one who has eight hundred; in a word, you can get upto a million, and shadings will still be found.” And then there is this landowner Chichikov meets in his quest to secure ‘dead souls’ whom he ends up describing thus, “His smile was alluring, his hair blond and his eyes light blue. In the first moment of conversation with him, you could not help but say, ‘What a pleasant and kind hearted man!’ The second moment you would say nothing, and the third you would say, ‘The devil only knows what sort of man he is!’ and you would move as far away from him as you could; if you didn’t move away, you would experience a feeling of deadly boredom.” Observing another lady in one of the landowner’s house, he goes ahead with, “And in boarding schools, as we know, three main subjects constitute the foundation of human virtues: the French language, which is indispensable for a happy family life; the piano, for affording one’s spouse some pleasant moments; and finally, in the specifically homemaking skills, the knitting of purses and other surprises.” Oscar Wilde famously said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you” and Gogol epitomized that perfectly in trying to use comedy as a means towards perfecting individuals, one at a time with an ultimate aim to let that percolate and spread inside the entrails of the country, hopefully enlightening it as a whole. This contrasted starkly with the radicals trying to improve through systemic changes in social structures and government systems. So glaringly, this is the way to go even today and the need all the more acute. Flowing descriptions of the pulchritude of Russian countryside, adorn the second part where Gogol wields a different quill albeit without giving up his knack of humor a wee bit. At times the brilliance is much more vivid and writing candid here than the first part even but only to be rudely reminded of its incompleteness and then it strikes as a disjointed piece on the whole. Perhaps to achieve perspicacity, he forays into the uncharted and flounders, dabbling with morality here and sermons there which do not quite gel with the tone and tenor hitherto attained and that is tragic. “Like a tsar on the day of his solemn coronation, he was all aglow and it seemed as if rays of light were streaming from his face. Why, nowhere in the whole world will you find a delight to equal that. It’s precisely here that man imitates God. God reserved to himself the business of creation, as a delight second to none, and he demands of man that he too, in like measure, be the creator of prosperity all around him. And they call this boring work!” ...... “Yes, nature loves patience, and this is a law given it by God himself, who smiles on those who are patient.” (Reminds of Tolstoy) In the final sections, which happen so strangely suddenly, if one is not aware of the fate of this text and its creator, one, to say the least can be left utterly dumbfounded. “….. Why such a fate? Why such blows? Was my life not like a barque amid the waves even without all that? Where is the justice of the heavens? Where is the reward for patience, for exemplary perseverance?” ……. “I can see, I can sense….. That the life I’m leading is not right, but I fell no great revulsion towards vice; my nature has grown coarse. I have no love for the good, for that beautiful inclination for doing deeds that are pleasing to God, which becomes second nature, habit.” ……. “The dishonest business of taking bribes has become a necessity and a need even for those who were certainly not born to be dishonest. I know by now it is almost impossible for many people to swim against the current.” My own naiveté as regards this work receded only gradually after the reading culminated and shoved me into an earnest quest to know the man himself. My only claims as to the knowledge of this work were cursory references of Dostoevsky and the likes, and I somehow expected it to be miles away from humour let alone comedy forming heart of the matter. I did not know what to expect and that was quite good actually. Gogol’s life and times are enshrouded in dense fog with only his prolific letter writing providing a glimpse into the man and the artist that he was. Pushkin, evidently regarded as a mentor of had a famous falling apart and the two did not talk until Pushkin died in a duel. According to Gogol, it was Pushkin who visualized the ‘plot’ of Dead Souls and decided not to use it himself, encouraging him to amplify and deepen it. And Pushkin argued and coaxed him saying that it was just sinful not to do so, given the ability of Gogol to put his finger on a person and represent him fully as a human being in just a few strokes . Moreover he pushed him to emulate Cervantes, to rise above the scope of smaller works which he was currently writing and produce a work of the character and stature of Don Quixote while overcoming the shortcomings that his frail and capricious health represented. Later Gogol is believed to have said, “ ‘Service’ to Russia, he said, was his abiding concern, and to that end he ‘wanted to present in my work primarily those higher qualities of the Russian nature, which have not yet been justly appreciated by all, and primarily those lower qualities which have not yet been sufficiently ridiculed and dispelled by all’.” Gogol, right from the time of his first writings had a difficult time with criticism, burning text after text even only at slightest behest. His eccentricity and quirkiness culminated with his own life but it can be safely construed that in the present day and age, when goals are secondary, his prodigious precocity as a tragi-comic painter of realities of existence would have levitated him to precipitous heights. Even without that, his role and place in the echelons of Russian or even world writing traditions is incontrovertible, the evidences are replete in Tolstoy, Gorky or Dostoevsky and even Chekhov, who became who they did because he had been…..

  18. 4 out of 5

    نقد روز

    نیکلای گوگول به مدت 17 سال روی این اثر کار کرد. طبق برنامههای نویسنده این اثر ادبی قرار بوده که در سه جلد نوشته شود. گوگول خودش بارها اشاره کرده بود که ایده این اثر را پوشکین به او داده است. الکساندر پوشکین هم یکی از اولین شنوندگان این شعر بود. گوگول خودش به این اثر به عنوان حماسهای شعری در قالب نثر و در درون کتاب آن را به عنوان رمانی در قالب نظم نگاه میکرد. نوشتن نفوس مرده کار سختی بود. نویسنده ایده اثر را بارها تغییر داد و بخشهای مختلفی از آن را بازنویسی کرد. نوشتن تنها بخش اول آن که در سال 18 نیکلای گوگول به مدت 17 سال روی این اثر کار کرد. طبق برنامه‌های نویسنده این اثر ادبی قرار بوده که در سه جلد نوشته شود. گوگول خودش بارها اشاره کرده بود که ایده این اثر را پوشکین به او داده است. الکساندر پوشکین هم یکی از اولین شنوندگان این شعر بود. گوگول خودش به این اثر به عنوان حماسه‌ای شعری در قالب نثر و در درون کتاب آن را به عنوان رمانی در قالب نظم نگاه می‌کرد. نوشتن نفوس مرده کار سختی بود. نویسنده ایده اثر را بارها تغییر داد و بخش‌های مختلفی از آن را بازنویسی کرد. نوشتن تنها بخش اول آن که در سال 1842 چاپ شد، شش سال طول کشید. گوگول چند روز قبل از وفاتش، دست‌نوشته جلد دوم اثر را سوزاند. تنها چهار فصل اول و یکی از فصل‌های پایانی آن باقی مانده است. نوشتن جلد سوم هم هیچ وقت شروع نشد. اوایل گوگول نفوس مرده را به عنوان رمانی طنز و انتقادی نگاه می‌کرد. اما در سال 1840 نویسنده به شدت مریض شد و به صورتی معجزه آسا بهبود یافت. نیکلای فکر می‌کرد که این بهبودی شاید نشانه‌ای باشد؛ که خداوند از او خواسته است اثری خلق کند تا به عنوان احیای روح روسیه کمک کند. بنابراین ایده نفوس مرده بازنگری شد. ایده‌ی جدید نوشتن اثری سه گانه با سبک و صیاق کمدی الهی دانته بود. درنتیجه‌ی تصمیم نویسنده برای سبک این اثر، یک شعر پدید آمد... ادامه نقد در سایت نقد روز: http://naqderooz.ir/1gm

  19. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    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' 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!" --and-- “However stupid a fool's words may be, they are sometimes enough to confound an intelligent man.” --and-- “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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    فهد الفهد

    الأنفس الميتة مات غوغول وقد أحرق الجزء الثاني من هذه الرواية، ومن سيقرأ سيرته سيقول: حسناً فعل!! فقد سيطرت على غوغول روح دينية في آخر أيامه، كما أثر فيه النقد الذي كان يكيله له الجميع، سواء كانوا من تيار السلافيين – الذي يريد الحفاظ على روسيا كما هي – أو الأوروبيين – الذين يريدون تغيير روسيا لتلحق بأوروبا -، فلذا قرر جعل الجزء الثاني تمجيداً وتبجيلاً للروح والمجتمع الروسي الذي تفنن في الجزء الأول في إظهار عيوبه وشخصياته الطريفة، ولكن الحصيلة كانت باهتة، فلذا أحرق المخطوطة ولم يفرغ منها بعد. نتعر الأنفس الميتة مات غوغول وقد أحرق الجزء الثاني من هذه الرواية، ومن سيقرأ سيرته سيقول: حسناً فعل!! فقد سيطرت على غوغول روح دينية في آخر أيامه، كما أثر فيه النقد الذي كان يكيله له الجميع، سواء كانوا من تيار السلافيين – الذي يريد الحفاظ على روسيا كما هي – أو الأوروبيين – الذين يريدون تغيير روسيا لتلحق بأوروبا -، فلذا قرر جعل الجزء الثاني تمجيداً وتبجيلاً للروح والمجتمع الروسي الذي تفنن في الجزء الأول في إظهار عيوبه وشخصياته الطريفة، ولكن الحصيلة كانت باهتة، فلذا أحرق المخطوطة ولم يفرغ منها بعد. نتعرف في (الأنفس الميتة) على شخصيات متعددة، يقودنا إليها بطلنا الغامض (بافيل تشيتشيكوف) والذي وصل إلى مدينة صغيرة وبدأ يزور الملاك فيها ليقدم لهم عرضاً غريباً، ففي تلك الفترة كانت روسيا لازالت تعمل بنظام القنانة أي وجود أقنان – عبيد - يمتلكهم الملاك ويعملون في حقوله ومزارعه، وكان الملاك الروسي يدفع للدولة مبلغاً عن كل قن من هؤلاء الأقنان، ولو مات القن فعلى الملاك الدفع عنه حتى موعد الإحصاء التالي، فلذا كان عرض تشيتشيكوف للملاك غريباً، فهو يريد منهم أن يعطوه أو يبيعوه إن استلزم الأمر هذه الأنفس الميتة، يستفيد الملاك من هذه الصفقة التخلص من عشرات الأقنان الذين ماتوا ولكن لازال يدفع عنهم للدولة، ولكن ما الذي سيستفيده تشتشيكوف؟ ما فائدة مئات الأقنان الميتين؟ أخذ غوغول فكرة الرواية من واقعة حقيقية كان بوشكين يخطط للكتابة عنها، ولكن غوغول طالب بها، فتنازل عنها بوشكين للكاتب الشاب، وللأسف لم يصدر الكتاب إلا متأخراً بعد مقتل بوشكين، وأظن أنه لو قرأه لأعجب به فقد تجلى غوغول في هذا النص ببراعة، وكشف لنا شخصيات روسية أصيلة، تجمع بين الغباء والخسة والذكاء والبخل واللامبالاة، رؤية شاملة للريف الروسي لا يمكن أن يلتقطها إلا فنان حقيقي، تكفي هذه الرواية مع قصة المعطف لتضعا غوغول في مصاف العظماء.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Max

    An entertaining satire published in 1842 but with flippant style that seems much more modern. Bureaucratic inept government and pompous neurotic gentry get scathing treatment. For example after a huge dinner at a noble’s estate, “…the master of the house had settled himself into his…armchair that would have held four, he dropped asleep. His corpulent person was transformed into a blacksmith’s bellows; from his open mouth and from his nose he began to emit sounds as are not found in even the newe An entertaining satire published in 1842 but with flippant style that seems much more modern. Bureaucratic inept government and pompous neurotic gentry get scathing treatment. For example after a huge dinner at a noble’s estate, “…the master of the house had settled himself into his…armchair that would have held four, he dropped asleep. His corpulent person was transformed into a blacksmith’s bellows; from his open mouth and from his nose he began to emit sounds as are not found in even the newest music. All instruments were represented, the drum, the flute, and a strange abrupt note, like the yap of a dog.” From a historical perspective, Gogol’s depiction of the Russian countryside, the people, their relationships and living conditions is fascinating. You feel like you are there, seeing everything contemporaneously with the characters. Recommended for a light and enjoyable journey into mid-19th century Russia with an amiable huckster.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carmo

    “Toda a Russia aparecerá no meu poema; será a minha primeira obra sofrível, aquela que há de salvar o meu nome do esquecimento.” Nikolai Gogol Salvou, e de que maneira. Hoje, Almas Mortas é considerado a obra mais emblemática de Gogol, mas aquando do seu lançamento a crítica amaldiçoou-o. - Porque profanava o sentido bíblico da alma que, sendo imortal, não poderia ser enunciada como mortal. - Porque consideravam a personagem principal, Chichikov, um mau exemplo capaz de instigar ao crime. - Porque “Toda a Russia aparecerá no meu poema; será a minha primeira obra sofrível, aquela que há de salvar o meu nome do esquecimento.” Nikolai Gogol Salvou, e de que maneira. Hoje, Almas Mortas é considerado a obra mais emblemática de Gogol, mas aquando do seu lançamento a crítica amaldiçoou-o. - Porque profanava o sentido bíblico da alma que, sendo imortal, não poderia ser enunciada como mortal. - Porque consideravam a personagem principal, Chichikov, um mau exemplo capaz de instigar ao crime. - Porque era um ataque ao regime de servidão. Não terá sido essa a intenção do autor, mas a mordaz caricatura social foi infalível. Gogol foi implacável na forma como escarneceu do funcionalismo corrupto, como denunciou a miséria do campesinato, e ridícularizou a hierarquia e burocracia da administração e justiça russas. Nem os belíssimos rasgos patrióticos, carregados de melancolia e bucolismo, que tão bem caracterizam a alma dos russos na relação com a mãe pátria o salvaram da censura. Quanto mais era criticado por uns, mais era admirado por outros. Esta ambiguidade ter-lhe-á provocado um forte dilema moral, e em consequência a queima do segundo manuscrito. Ficou-nos este, e ainda bem. O tema pode parecer pesado, mas o sentido de humor satírico com que é contado é imperdível.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Inderjit Sanghera

    All stories, even those painted with the broadest strokes of realism are fairy tales. Some, however, are more fantastical than others and none more so than the phantasmagoria of Gogol’s fiction; characters with pumpkin shaped heads and preposterous dialogues, all of this is part of the magic of Gogol’s fiction, of his unique, surreal style. Gogol should not be read to gain an insight of human psychology; his weird and wonderful cast of characters are cardboard cut-outs, unintentional caricatures All stories, even those painted with the broadest strokes of realism are fairy tales. Some, however, are more fantastical than others and none more so than the phantasmagoria of Gogol’s fiction; characters with pumpkin shaped heads and preposterous dialogues, all of this is part of the magic of Gogol’s fiction, of his unique, surreal style. Gogol should not be read to gain an insight of human psychology; his weird and wonderful cast of characters are cardboard cut-outs, unintentional caricatures of Gogol’s neurotic social interactions. Instead Gogol should be read for the originality of his style, the long, fantastical metaphors and non-sequiturs, the random occurrences and divergences which constantly crop up. As Nabokov writes, Gogol was one of the first writers to rescue Russian literature from collective purblindness and along with the rambling metaphors, the colourful portraits of the Russian countryside with punctuate the novel are some of it’s most delightful passages, however Gogol’s most poetic descriptions are punctuated with a macabre beauty” ; “The united tops of trees that had grown wide in liberty spread above the skyline in masses of green clouds and irregular domes of tremulous leafage. The colossal white trunk of a birch-tree deprived of its top, which had been broken off by some gale or thunderbolt, rose out of these dense green masses and disclosed its rotund smoothness in midair, like a well proportioned column of sparkling marble; the oblique, sharply pointed fracture in which, instead of a capital, it terminated above, showed black against its snowy whiteness like some kind of headpiece or a dark bird…here and there the green thicket broke asunder in a blaze of sunshine and showed a deep unlighted recess in between, similarto dark gaping jaws; this vista was all shrouded in shadow and all one could discern in its black depth was: the course of a narrow footpath, a crumbling balustrade, a toppling summer-house, the hollow trunk of a decrepit willow, a thick growth of hoary sedge bristling out from behind it, an intercrossment and tangle of twigs and leaves that had lost their sap in this impenetrable wildwood…” Dead Souls follows the story of the garrulous philistine Chichikov and his inane-and ultimately banal-quest to purchase dead peasants from land-owners in order to become rich. Chichikov is a unique combination of superciliousness and ineptness; he constantly bumbles and fumbles his way through life, committing blunder after blunder, both social and financial, he is like a ghoulish version of the hapless failures who populate Chekhov’s novels, or the neurotic of Dostoevsky. However, the reader should reflect that both Chichikov and the secondary characters who populate the novel are fundamentally different facets of Gogol’s neurotic personality, they are not ‘people’ in the traditional sense, but more ghouls who haunt Gogol’s nightmarish world, delighting the reader with their weird and wonderful behaviours.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    As precedent#1 goes around shouting "I see dead people", it seems a great time to re-engage with this. This is an unfinished novel, however do not let that put you off, nosiree! This visit is via Librivox/youtube Wiki description: 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 faults of the Russian mentality and As precedent#1 goes around shouting "I see dead people", it seems a great time to re-engage with this. This is an unfinished novel, however do not let that put you off, nosiree! This visit is via Librivox/youtube Wiki description: Dead Souls (Russian: Мёртвые ду́ши, 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 faults of the Russian mentality and character. Gogol masterfully portrayed those defects through Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov (the main character) and the people whom he encounters in his endeavours. These people are typical of the Russian middle-class of the time. 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. 5* Dead Souls 4* The Overcoat 4* The Nose 4* Diary of a Madman 4* The Inspector General 3* Taras Bulba 3* The Night Before Christmas

  25. 4 out of 5

    Parthiban Sekar

    What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:25) DEAD SOULS: A Poem This is not a new story which Gogol tries to say through his not good looking, but not uncomely in appearance either, not overly fat, not overly thin Hero Chichikov whose desire takes him in pursuit of buying dead souls from landowners affected by sickness, famine, and other misfortunes which may befall any man. But, the same old story being told time and again, only in diff What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:25) DEAD SOULS: A Poem This is not a new story which Gogol tries to say through his not good looking, but not uncomely in appearance either, not overly fat, not overly thin Hero Chichikov whose desire takes him in pursuit of buying dead souls from landowners affected by sickness, famine, and other misfortunes which may befall any man. But, the same old story being told time and again, only in different forms and with different faces and names, which tells about the fall of man who is predisposed to desire for more wealth by any means, direct or indirect. But, Our Hero’s (as Gogol calls him) intentions slightly unconventional… “Everything resembles the truth, everything can happen to a man.” Gogol put us in a bedraggled britzka along with our hero to see the serene beauty of Rus’ country side, ruined in some places because of lethargic landowners, drunken serfs, and embittered women. As the poplar trees gleefully wave, birch trees stubbornly stand and the rain occasionally interrupts the itinerary, his diminutive coachman takes us on the business of our hero to the secluded lands of various landowners who may be ennobled or corrupted or lackadaisical or reprehensible or rarely widowed. Their lands and serfs are as good as their owners are. The lands in the hands of the corrupted owner was so ruined that there was no hint of anything alive and everything was at a pitiful state which makes the ennobled owners bite their lips. While our hero is busy about his business, it is hard for someone not to fall in love with the vivid and eloquent, sometimes flowery, narrations of Gogol. Well, the legitimacy of our hero’s business is not indisputable, as it is mentioned already as unconventional. It cannot be refuted that there is a growing desire to acquire wealth behind his business visits. And at the same time, it can not be ignored that what our hero possesses is just as good as the dreams which any gentleman of his age might have: a flourishing land and a beautiful young wife. Can only the misfortunes make the man learn the lesson of abdicating frivolous dispositions in the hard way? When the very life of our hero was threatened and fortunately, somehow, saved, thanks to a virtuous liquor franchise, the desires he damned and disposed came back to him even before he was completely out of his misery. Such is the unfathomable nature of man. Yes! This great work of Gogol is incomplete. But, there is a beauty in it, and clarity. The very nature of country people thinking about leaving their homelands and vacuously dreaming about a lucrative life in the cities, without knowing that the real treasure is right under their feet and before their eyes, is vividly conveyed through his zany characters who would throw a dinner party even when his serfs are hungry for days. And this is where the story ends abruptly leaving us in such a surprising disappointment without knowing what the new interesting and virtuous characters would have to say and whether the brother of the new acquaintance would allow his brother on a trip with our hero and whether our hero would be freed from his unquenchable desire for lands and souls. If I am to summarize my understanding of the story so far in a line, it would be: “Keep not money, but keep good people's company.”

  26. 5 out of 5

    لونا

    غالباً ما يختبئ المؤلف أو الراوي خلف ستار إحدى شخصيات الرواية وتتولى تلك الشخصية بالنيابة عنه مهمة رواية الأحداث. إحساس القارئ بوجود المؤلف "فعلياً" قليل أو نادر الحدوث؛ هنا في الأنفس الميتة الوضع مختلف تماماً، الراوي خلق نوع من "النميمة" التي بطبعها تستدعي إحساس القارئ أنه جالس في جلسة مع متحدث لا تنقصه البراعة في رسالة لبوشكين يقول غوغول: (بدأت أكتب الأنفس الميتة الموضوع امتد ليصير رواية طويلة جداً، واعتقد أنه مضحك جداً.....أحب أن أظهر في هذه الرواية جانباً واحداً على الأقل من روسيا)0 الأنفس الم غالباً ما يختبئ المؤلف أو الراوي خلف ستار إحدى شخصيات الرواية وتتولى تلك الشخصية بالنيابة عنه مهمة رواية الأحداث. إحساس القارئ بوجود المؤلف "فعلياً" قليل أو نادر الحدوث؛ هنا في الأنفس الميتة الوضع مختلف تماماً، الراوي خلق نوع من "النميمة" التي بطبعها تستدعي إحساس القارئ أنه جالس في جلسة مع متحدث لا تنقصه البراعة في رسالة لبوشكين يقول غوغول: (بدأت أكتب الأنفس الميتة الموضوع امتد ليصير رواية طويلة جداً، واعتقد أنه مضحك جداً.....أحب أن أظهر في هذه الرواية جانباً واحداً على الأقل من روسيا)0 الأنفس الميتة هي الوصية المقدسة لبوشكين الذي يمكن اعتباره عرّاب هذه الرواية، تابعها خطوه بخطوه وساهم ببعض أفكارها لكن لم يُكتب له أن يعيش ليقرأها كاملة. اختزل غوغول المجتمع الروسي بشخصية تشيتشيكوف التي تتمحور حوله الرواية. تشيتشيكوف يشترى النفوس الميتة والتي لا تزال مسجلّة في سجلات الدولة على أنها حيّة لماذا يا ترى؟ هذا السؤال هو محور الرواية لا أخفيكم أن التكهن بمجرى الأحداث ليس باليسير وخصوصاً أن أسلوب غوغول يتسم كما أسلفت بالنميمة والنميمة بطبعها ترتكز على توافه الأمور! أسلوب أقل ما يقال عنه أن تمويهي ليوجه تفكير القارئ في اتجاه معين، وبالفعل نجح في ذلك تشيتشيكوف شخصية سليمة من سياق الأحداث ولذلك توقعت كل شيء إلا أن يكون هدفه في النهاية "الهدف الذي كان". هنا يكمن مغزى الرواية الذي استفاض المؤلف بشرحه في نهاية الرواية ملاحظة:الترجمة لعبد الرحيم بدر ممتازه

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fanis

    Ο μανιώδης αγοραστής νεκρών ψυχών κουβαλούσε κι ίδιος μέσα του μια νεκρή ψυχή, ίσως ο πραγματικός λόγος που αγόραζε νεκρές ψυχές να ήταν, επειδή, ήθελε να βασιλεύει σε μια αυλή νεκρών ψυχών.

  28. 4 out of 5

    [P]

    For my review of Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet I asked you to imagine that someone has given you a beautiful old watch, a gift with a catch, which is that it unfortunately does not work, is not, somehow, whole. Would you, in this situation, feel aggrieved, because the watch is not all that it could have been? Or are you happy to have it as it is, opining that you have gained something, rather than lost out, because you cannot lose something that never was [the watch had never and could For my review of Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet I asked you to imagine that someone has given you a beautiful old watch, a gift with a catch, which is that it unfortunately does not work, is not, somehow, whole. Would you, in this situation, feel aggrieved, because the watch is not all that it could have been? Or are you happy to have it as it is, opining that you have gained something, rather than lost out, because you cannot lose something that never was [the watch had never and could never work]? The answer to this question would, I thought, not only tell you about your approach to watches but also reflect how you would feel about unfinished novels. I often see, as I meander around the internet, reviews and articles bemoaning the incomplete, the not-fully-unrealised. Books like The Castle, for example, or The Man Without Qualities, or The Good Soldier Svejk, or Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls. For a certain type of reader, these books are frustrating, unacceptably flawed; some even claim that they ought to be avoided altogether. Obviously, this is not an opinion I share. To return to my watch analogy, I am of the latter sort; I am happy to have these novels in their imperfect state, to take them on face value. A beautiful watch is still a beautiful watch even if it cannot tell the time. Indeed, I tend to find these incomplete, sometimes unedited, narratives charming, like a beautiful girl with a lisp. In terms of Dead Souls, what we have available to us is one complete volume and some bits and pieces of volume two. It is said that Gogol intended to write three volumes in all, but burned much of what he wrote after the publication of the first and then upped and died before he could put anything together that he was satisfied with. However, what is unusual about the book under review here is that volume one was finished, and is able to stand alone, so that if you were to read it without any knowledge of the intention to compose further volumes you would not feel as though you had been short-changed. In fact, I am not sure why publishers have taken to including volume two at all. It has, in my opinion, done much to compromise the reputation of the book, not because it is bad per se, in fact I like it rather more than most do, but because it feels tacked on. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the author had become a pious, ascetic man, and, as a result, his work was increasingly dogmatic and didactic; and so much of the zany playfulness and charm [which Gogol thought sinful] had been sucked out of the narrative. I should point out, then, before we continue, that this review is, in the main, only concerned with volume one. [Gogol Burning the Manuscript of the Second Part of Dead Souls by Ilya Repin] As the book begins, a britzka rolls into town, carrying within it a stranger, Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov, and his two lackeys. Gogol is keen to stress Chichikov’s ordinariness; he is, he writes, neither fat nor thin, neither attractive nor ugly. He is, then, on the surface, a middling sort, who, moreover, appears to have no discernible personality of his own. For example, when he has dinner with the landowner Manilov, who is emotional and over-friendly, Chichikov attempts to fall in with him, to mimic his behaviour and attitudes. One could, of course, interpret this ingratiating approach as a desire to be liked, but it quickly becomes apparent that our hero has a different aim in mind. This aim, this plan, is what gives the novel that evocative title [and what a title it is, by the way!], for Chichikov is intent on buying up, or being made a gift of, all the town’s dead souls or serfs. It is not until the end of volume one that it is revealed why he wants, or what he intends to do with the rights to the deceased serfs. He tells Nozdryov, another landowner, that he desires them in order to give the impression of wealth, and so to elevate his status in society, but he indicates, in his thoughts, that this was a lie. In any case, there is no doubt that he is up to no good [variations on the exclamation ‘what the Devil’ are frequently uttered throughout the text, which is clearly significant, for only the Devil ought to trade in souls] and that, far from being an ordinary man, Chichikov is actually an arch manipulator, who disdains the people who he is attempting to deal with. In light of this, it might be tempting to view Dead Souls as a kind of morality tale, wherein a bunch of unfortunate people are duped out of their property, or as a warning along the lines of: Be careful, good people, of strangers! Yet this would be a rather simplistic, or superficial, interpretation, because none of the landowners or townspeople are particularly sympathetic figures [except perhaps Manilov]; indeed, they are far less sympathetic than Chichikov himself. The more characters that are introduced the clearer it becomes that Gogol is poking fun at various Russian types and sections of society. Each of the people Chichikov encounters on his quest to buy up dead souls is a one-dimensional satirical portrait; for example, Plyushkin is a miser, Manilov a sentimental fool, Nozdryov a hedonist and bounder, the women are gossips, and so on. However, if this is all the book had to offer it would be funny, certainly, but would not be the great masterpiece that I believe it to be. What gives Dead Souls its depth, and the satire more of a sting, is how it engages with questions and issues concerning masters and slaves, poverty and wealth, power and corruption. To get to the heart of all this one must return to Chichikov’s scam: he is buying up souls from wealthy landowners; they are dead, of course, but still the two parties are engaged in a kind of slave trade. In Russia at the time, muzhiks, deceased or otherwise, were available for purchase and resettlement; souls or serfs were, therefore, in bondage, they were not free. If you are not free, you have, in a way, ceased to be human, or you are at least not being treated as such. I cannot say myself whether is was the case, but I have read that Gogol was not necessarily against serfdom, and certainly volume two [which speaks about responsibility towards one’s serfs] appears to back that up; and so one must be careful not to proclaim Dead Souls as being a total condemnation, but it is unarguable that its author was in sympathy with the poor. For example, there is a important, almost moving, passage in the novel when Chichikov is studying the names of the people he has acquired, and for the first time he starts to wonder who they were, how they lived and how they died; they are in this moment humanised. “When he looked at those sheets of paper, at the muzhiks who had in fact once been muzhiks, who had worked, ploughed, got drunk, driven wagons, deceived their masters, or maybe had simply been good muzhiks, he was possessed by a strange feeling that he himself did not understand.” Then there is the story of Captain Kopeykin, a wounded military man who seeks a pension from the government, but is repeatedly turned away despite his dire straits and the services he rendered to his country. We are also told stories, or anecdotes, about cover-ups, and references are made to bribes amongst officials. The poor, it is only fair to point out, aren’t left completely alone, do not totally escape the author’s critical eye, for they drink and are sometimes violent, but all that is dealt with almost in passing; most of the novel is concerned with the greed and idiocy of landowners, officials and, in general, those with money and in powerful positions. You might also want to consider what Chichikov’s negotiations say about capitalism, or specifically the principle that everything has a price, that something is worth what a certain person is prepared to pay for it. More than once the hero finds himself haggling, even arguing, with landowners who do not want to part with their dead souls [even though they are costing them money] because they believe that if he wants them, then they must be worth something. For instance, when Chichikov says to Sobakevich that a dead soul is something that is not needed by anyone, he replies that, au contraire, you need them! And so attempts to squeeze as much money out of him as possible. Depending on your sense of humour, you will find the negotiations either hilarious or repetitive and tedious. I am one of the former. There is something, for me, extremely amusing about a man trying to buy an apparently useless object, something that doesn’t even truly exist [or exists only on paper]; his frustration when faced with the seller’s inability to grasp that he is not only giving them money, but relieving them of a financial burden [tax must be paid on the souls until the next census is completed], is particularly entertaining. “Manilov was pleased by these final words, but he still couldn’t make sense of the deal itself, and for want of an answer, he began sucking his clay pipe so hard that it started to wheeze like a bassoon. He seemed to be trying to extract from it an opinion about this unprecedented business; but the clay pipe only wheezed and said nothing.” While the idea behind the work is clever and satisfying, and one can make much of the social-political elements, the most appealing aspect of Dead Souls is the style with which Gogol pulls the whole thing off. It has become a kind of cliché that Russian novels are all narrated by idiotic, slightly mad, almost feverish, men. It is not true of course, but there are notable examples of this sort in the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky [Notes from Underground, Demons], Andrei Bely [Petersburg], and others. In any case, Nikolai Gogol could be said to have invented this archetype, or, even if he didn’t, he was certainly one of the first and most famous to make use of it, and one could argue that he did it better than anyone else. His authorial voice is giddy, highly strung, unpredictable, and frequently absurd. He often speaks to his reader, winks at him, plays up to him, resembling a kind of circus ringmaster who has had one or two vodkas too many. Like a runaway britzka, Gogol’s narrative is constantly veering off in unexpected directions. He will be discussing, say, Chichikov’s attempts to buy souls from Nozdryov, will compare the stance of Nozdryov to a certain kind of military man, and then spend a good few paragraphs describing the personality and behaviour of this imaginary military man, well beyond the original point of comparison; or Gogol will describe a certain type of face and then give a kind of backstory to the people who have this type of face. It really is magical the way that he does this; it gives the book an even more impressive depth, makes it feel as though it is teeming with personalities. Furthermore, his imagery, his metaphors are some of the finest in all literature, even in translation. Cockroaches are described as being like prunes; a row of cups are like a line of birds along a shore; and, one of my favourites, some people are said to be not objects themselves, but like the specks on objects. It is worth noting that the novel is subtitled A Poem, and this might seem like false advertising at first, for it is certainly written in prose. However, there are undeniably poetic elements, so much so, in fact, that the book reminded me most of all of Homer or Dante’s The Divine Comedy. There are […] [Here the review breaks off]

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Oraby

    «ولكن الإنسان مخلوق غريب» تشيتشيكوڤ الأنفس الميتة - جوجول تعد هذه الرواية من أهم وأعظم ما كتب في الأدب الروسي، ليس فقط من حيث القيمة الأدبية الهامة - ونظرًا لما تمتاز به من رابطة بين أديبين عظيمين كجوجول وبوشكين كذلك - ولكن من حيث كونها تأريخًا للمجتمع الروسي القيصري ما قبل الثورة. الرواية تحكي عن قيمة الإنسان في المجتمع المادي اللبرالي الإقطاعي الذي عاشته روسيا في القرن التاسع عشر، من خلال قصة بسيطة للغاية عن شخص، يصفه الراوي بكل ما للعمومية من معنى وصفات، هو شخص لا للنذل أقرب ولا للبطل، ولا هو با «ولكن الإنسان مخلوق غريب» تشيتشيكوڤ الأنفس الميتة - جوجول تعد هذه الرواية من أهم وأعظم ما كتب في الأدب الروسي، ليس فقط من حيث القيمة الأدبية الهامة - ونظرًا لما تمتاز به من رابطة بين أديبين عظيمين كجوجول وبوشكين كذلك - ولكن من حيث كونها تأريخًا للمجتمع الروسي القيصري ما قبل الثورة. الرواية تحكي عن قيمة الإنسان في المجتمع المادي اللبرالي الإقطاعي الذي عاشته روسيا في القرن التاسع عشر، من خلال قصة بسيطة للغاية عن شخص، يصفه الراوي بكل ما للعمومية من معنى وصفات، هو شخص لا للنذل أقرب ولا للبطل، ولا هو بالملاك ولا الشيطان، شخص إن شئت تنصفه لقلت عنه أنه كان يبحث عن سعادته الخاصة، سعادته المتجلية في الأعمال والمال والقنانة. من خلال عدة رحلات يقوم بها تشيتتيكوف ألى مجموعة من الفلاحين والملاك والأسياد والقضاة ورؤساء المدن، يتجول بطلنا بحثًا عت النفوس. يتركك جوجول تائها قليلا إلى أن تدرك أن النفوس التي يقصدها ليست أنفس حقيقية بل هي أنفس على ورق، ويتركك تائها كثيرا إلى أن يبين لك غاية بطلنا من امتلاك هذه الأنفس. من خلال أول الأشخاص، وهو الفلاحة الثرثارة، إلى مانيكوف، تقريبا، الشخص المحبب اللطيف، إلى نوزدريف، السكير الحقير، إلى عدة شخوص أخرى أقل هامشية وأكثر ثرثرة، تقع هذه الرواية في هذه الأحداث. ماذا يريد جوجول؟ تعد الرواية بحث محاولة للمزج بين أدب الديستوبيا وأدب الواقع في مزيج أدبي شامل. شراء نفوس، لكن لا لم يصل الأمر بعد لهذا الأمر، هي نفوس ميتة حيث يتحول الإنسان إلى مادة للبيع والشراء والتجارة والتسجيل والملك والاحتكار والهرب والمساومة، وهو بالفعل ظل كذلك لحين من الزمن. يكتب جوجول عن تسليع الإنسان وتشيؤه قبل المسيري وزيجمونت باومان ربما ما يعتبره البعض أن هذا هو غاية الرواية بحق، أن تنقل حال الإنسان الروسي المعاصر والمشتت كالعادة بين ما هو قديم وما هو حديث وآت من أوروبا وبين التراث والحداثة وبين التزمت والتفتح في مقولة تنسب لدوستويفسكي تقوب بأننا جميعًا - كأدباء روس - خرجنا من معطف جوجول - والحمد لله أنهم خرجوا من معطفه لا من أنفسه. بالطبع هنالك ٣در من المبالغة، ففيسكي، مثلار نتاجه الأدبي وحده يعادل أضعاف ما أنتجه جوجول، وبالتأكيد لا يتوقف الأمر على مجرد فعل الكتابة والغزارة بل يفوقه حد التأثير. جوجول جيد وإن كان ممل، إنساني، ولو كان ساذج، مستشرف للمستقبل وإن كان نبي تائه. تمتاز الرواية كعادة الأدب الروسي بالإنسانوية والحساسية المفرطة، حيث يقبل الرجال بعضهم بعضًا بحب وعطف وشفقة شديدين، وحيث الأطفال يشغلون جانبا كبيرا، وحيث الحوار عن الأديان، وحيث الشخصيات الفقيرة المدمرة والحساسة الآنفة ذات الكبرياء العالية. وحيث يشغل القمار بالطبع جانبا ليس بالهين من حياة الشخصيات جميعهم. الخلاصة أن الرواية روسية بالكامل، وإن كانت حازت على صفات الأدب الروسي السيئة المبالغ فيها دون أن تمس جوانبه الأخرى الجميلة. بالتأكيد كانت قراءة سخيفة سمجة مملة بأشخاصها المزيفين وحواراتهم المفتعلة وسردياتهم المزعجة وتأملاتهم المستدامة السخيفة. تعليق آخر حول الترجمة: قام بها عبد الىحيم بدر وصدرت لأول مرة عن دار رادوغا بموسكو روسيا عام 1989 وصدرت مؤخرا عن دار المدى وعدة دور أخرى - كالفارابي - بنفس الترجمة وترجمات أخرى لا أدري عن أي لغة نقلها بدر وإن كنت أرجح أنها عن الروسية، لأن غائب طعمه فرمان راجعها وهو الآهر يترجم عن الروسية. الترجمة جيدة وإن عابها عدة عيوب وغلطات. وعابها كذلك استخدام صاحبها مصطلحات وكلمات - كليشيهات - شائعة، وأمثال عربية، وجمل تتميز بها الحضارة العربية واللغة المحلية. مثل سكران طينة والكرم الطائي وغيرها. الترجمة نفسها كانت جميلة وفصيحة وتشبه ترجمات الأدب الروسي الجميل عموما بلغته الحميمة والشديدة في نفس الآن. أعتقد أني قلت كل ما مر بذهني أثناء القراءة وحتى الانتهاء منها، وإن كنت واثقا أني بالطبع نسيت كمًا لا بأس بها من السباب والوعيد الذي تعهدت بذكره هاهنا. رواية سيئة وأتمنى ألا أخوض تجربة أخرى مثيلة مع الأدب الروسي الذي افتقدته منذ زمن

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    I have read only fifty pages of Gogol in Russian, enough to know how hilarious he is, and to regret his conversion and attempt to destroy this great book. "Sobakavich" alone rewards the reader with the Russian patronymic, "Son of" applied to "Sobaka," a bitch. Yet Sobakavich is the most genial of men, who refuses to sell even those of his employ who have died. His sentimental valuing of the mere memory of his dead worker is a triumph over materialism. Lovely stuff. Viva Gogol! Sobakievich is ev I have read only fifty pages of Gogol in Russian, enough to know how hilarious he is, and to regret his conversion and attempt to destroy this great book. "Sobakavich" alone rewards the reader with the Russian patronymic, "Son of" applied to "Sobaka," a bitch. Yet Sobakavich is the most genial of men, who refuses to sell even those of his employ who have died. His sentimental valuing of the mere memory of his dead worker is a triumph over materialism. Lovely stuff. Viva Gogol! Sobakievich is even more relevant today where tax evasion by the 1% is an industry supporting accountants and lawyers, supposed "business" experts who are really experts at short-changing the public. And American tax laws may now surpass those of 19th C Czarist Russia--in the loopholes provided for the rich--though in fact the loophole Chichikov exploits has not reemerged. Here it is: In Czarist Russia, wealth was not calculated by land. Anyone might own tens of thousands of hectares, or hundreds of square versts. You were not rich enough to marry unless you possessed the workers to till the land, the мужик. Of course, you owned them, but also, they had a right to till the land--not exactly like American slavery. Chichikov discovers a loophole in the tax law, so he plans to amass souls for his land, in order to marry well. The big house. The BMW, the коляска, the fancy carriage. Back when I was reading Russian under the tutelage of a Bolshoi violinist, I decided to purchase Gogol for my shelves, and drove the hour and a half to Harvard Square, to Shoenhof's Books. They had no Мертвые души, but they had a later work, hardbound in green. I vaguely knew Gogol had repented his best writing, but I didn't think of the implication. A later work...hmmm. When I got home and started reading it, it turned out to be a kind of spiritual autobiography, the title roughly, Meditations on the Divine Legacy. I do not object to religion, though I think the 28,000 years light takes to arrive from the center of our own Milky Way Galaxy a humbling even of, say, Judaism's 5,000 year, and certainly Christianity's 2,000. I do not object, I just prefer not to read such personal submersion. Give me Rousseau, or Gogol before his conversion. In brief, we have outgrown Gogol on tax evasion and on slavery--NOT. I have always told my classes about Chaucer's attitude toward the alchemist who briefly joins the pilgrims, before he is "outed" as a fraud. Here 'tis: Mankind is not bright enough to muck around with chemistry and atoms. Why, we might blow ourselves up! I would add, Of course, Chaucer was Wrong--NOT. Now nobody reads Gogol's coversion rhetoric, but they read his great lit. Viva Gogol! Viva lit!

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