Dead Souls is one of the most unusual works of nineteenth-century fiction and a devastating satire on social hypocrisy. Chichikov, a mysterious stranger, arrives in a provincial town and visits a succession of landowners to make each a strange offer. He proposes to buy the names of dead serfs still registered on the census, saving their owners from paying tax on them, and to use these "souls" as collateral to reinvent himself as a gentleman. In this ebullient masterpiece, Gogol created a grotesque gallery of human types, from the bear-like Sobakevich to the insubstantial fool Manilov, and, above all, the devilish con man Chichikov.
In his introduction, translator and Gogol scholar Robert Maguire discusses the protracted and troubled story of the novel's composition, Gogol's narrative technique, and his place in the Russian and European literary traditions
Includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, appendices, glossary, map, and notes.
About the Author
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821a1881) spent four years in a convict prison in Siberia, after which he was obliged to enlist in the army. His novels, including "Crime and Punishment" and "The Brothers Karamazov," rank among the greatest of the nineteenth century in any language. Robert A. Maguire was the Boris Bakhmeteff Professor Emeritus of Russian and Eastern European Studies at Columbia University. He died in 2005. Ronald Meyer is the director of the masteras program in Russian translation at Columbia University. Robert L . Belknap is an emeritus professor of Russian at Columbia University.
Gogol was a strange creature, but then genius is always strange. (Vladimir Nabokov)"