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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
I do tend to like Russian literature, but although I could see the humor in this novel - it just isn't my kind of humor. So it was a bit of a long read. Read morePublished 20 days ago by marydmoreland
One of the gals in our bookclub "The Other Women" chose this book as this month's read for us because she had never read Russian Literature, wanted to experience it, and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Susana T. Field
A witty, humorous and deliciously complex plot that will bother you to no end till you finish it entirely! Read morePublished 5 months ago by No1PigFlyer!
I had problems with following the story. I had hoped to gain some insight into the era of Russia prior to 1863 when the Serfs were freed. Read morePublished 6 months ago by ACW
This is considered a Great Book of Western Civilization and is absolutely unique. No writer like him. Had tremendous influence on later writers. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Reader
Many people, including Vladimir Nabokov himself, said this translation of Dead Souls is the best. I'm not sure I entirely agree--I read the Pevear and Volokhonsky translations of... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Rishi Kumar
By Nikilai Gogal
I picked up this book because I understand that it is highly recommended by Putin. Read more
Vladimir Nabokov said this is the best translation of Dead Souls and the rest should be sent to the fire. I agree it is stillPublished 12 months ago by Janet Chambless