Dead Souls (Everyman's Library)

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9781400043194: Dead Souls (Everyman's Library)

Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls is the great comic masterpiece of Russian literature–a satirical and splendidly exaggerated epic of life in the benighted provinces.

Gogol hoped to show the world “the untold riches of the Russian soul” in this 1842 novel, which he populated with a Dickensian swarm of characters: rogues and scoundrels, landowners and serfs, conniving petty officials–all of them both utterly lifelike and alarmingly larger than life. Setting everything in motion is the wily antihero, Chichikov, the trafficker in “dead souls”–deceased serfs who still represent profit to those clever enough to trade in them.

This lively, idiomatic English version by the award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky makes accessible the full extent of the novel’s lyricism, sulphurous humor, and delight in human oddity and error.

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

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Review:

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

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

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

From the Inside Flap:

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

"From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Book Description EVERYMAN S LIBRARY, United Kingdom, 2004. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Nikolai Gogol s Dead Souls is the great comic masterpiece of Russian literature a satirical and splendidly exaggerated epic of life in the benighted provinces. Gogol hoped to show the world the untold riches of the Russian soul in this 1842 novel, which he populated with a Dickensian swarm of characters: rogues and scoundrels, landowners and serfs, conniving petty officials all of them both utterly lifelike and alarmingly larger than life. Setting everything in motion is the wily antihero, Chichikov, the trafficker in dead souls deceased serfs who still represent profit to those clever enough to trade in them. This lively, idiomatic English version by the award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky makes accessible the full extent of the novel s lyricism, sulphurous humor, and delight in human oddity and error. (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed). Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781400043194

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Book Description EVERYMAN S LIBRARY, United Kingdom, 2004. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Nikolai Gogol s Dead Souls is the great comic masterpiece of Russian literature a satirical and splendidly exaggerated epic of life in the benighted provinces. Gogol hoped to show the world the untold riches of the Russian soul in this 1842 novel, which he populated with a Dickensian swarm of characters: rogues and scoundrels, landowners and serfs, conniving petty officials all of them both utterly lifelike and alarmingly larger than life. Setting everything in motion is the wily antihero, Chichikov, the trafficker in dead souls deceased serfs who still represent profit to those clever enough to trade in them. This lively, idiomatic English version by the award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky makes accessible the full extent of the novel s lyricism, sulphurous humor, and delight in human oddity and error. (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed). Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781400043194

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