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.
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One of the leading figures in nineteenth-century Russian literature, Nikolai Gogol (1809–52) is best
known for his satirical masterpiece, Dead Souls, and humorous plays and short stories such as The
Government Inspector and The Overcoat, written in a highly original and trenchant style.
"Gogol was a strange creature, but then genius is always strange." - Vladimir Nabokov
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