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
Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) was a novelist and political satirist. The author of Dead Souls and The Overcoat, he was one of Russia’s greatest writers.
George Gibian was Goldwin Smith Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. His honors include Fulbright, Guggenheim, American Philosophical Society, and Rockefeller Foundation fellowships. He was the author of The Man in the Black Coat: Russia’s Lost Literature of the Absurd, The Interval of Freedom: Russian Literature During the Thaw, and Tolstoj and Shakespeare.
He was the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and War and Peace, and Gogol’s Dead Souls, and of the Viking Penguin Portable Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader. Professor Gibian’s articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, the Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday, among others.
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