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Dead Souls

Nikolai Gogol; Editor-Susanne Fusso; Translator-Bernard Guilbert Guerney

47,544 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0300060998 / ISBN 13: 9780300060997
Published by Yale University Press, 1996
Used Condition: Used: Good Soft cover
From Ergodebooks (RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Dead Souls

Publisher: Yale University Press

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Used: Good

About this title

Synopsis:

Gogol's 1842 novel Dead Souls, a comic masterpiece about a mysterious con man and his grotesque victims, is one of the major works of Russian literature. It was translated into English in 1942 by Bernard Guilbert Guerney; the translation was hailed by Vladimir Nabokov as "an extraordinarily fine piece of work" and is still considered the best translation of Dead Souls ever published. Long out of print, the Guerney translation of Dead Souls is now reissued. The text has been made more faithful to Gogol's original by removing passages that Guerney inserted from earlier drafts of Dead Souls. The text is accompanied by Susanne Fusso's introduction and by appendices that present excerpts from Guerney's translations of other drafts of Gogol's work and letters Gogol wrote around the time of the writing and publication of Deal Souls.

 

"I am delighted that Guerney's translation of Dead Souls [is] available again. It is head and shoulders above all the others, for Guerney understands that to 'translate' Gogol is necessarily to undertake a poetic recreation, and he does so brilliantly."―Robert A. Maguire, Columbia University

 

"The Guerney translation of Dead Souls is the only translation I know of that makes any serious attempt to approximate the qualities of  Gogol's style―exuberant, erratic, 'Baroque,' bizarre."―Hugh McLean, University of California, Berkeley

 

"A splendidly revised and edited edition of Bernard Guerney's classic English translation of Gogol's Dead Souls. The distinguished Gogol scholar Susanne Fusso may have brought us as close as the English reader may ever expect to come to Gogol's masterpiece. No student, scholar, or general reader will want to miss this updated, refined version of one of the most delightful and sublime works of Russian literature."―Robert Jackson, Yale University

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

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