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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
Gogol is a great writer but my wife loves these translators, and that can make or destroy a story too.Published 1 month ago by Philip Cornett
I find that some books grow on you after you read them. I noticed it with Dostoevsky, who was highly influenced by the writings of Gogol. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Allan Ostermann
I don't know what it is about Russian literature but there's something in 19th century Russian novels that really appeals to me. Read morePublished 4 months ago by MechPebbles
I’ve read several novels by Russian authors, including Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Grossman, so I am familiar with the genre and have even been comfortable with the style and culture... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Steven M. Anthony
Dead Souls is a series of homes and hosts, but one failing I have in comparing the book favorably with The Brothers Karamazov or Crime and Punishment is that the setting are left... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Cabin Dweller
Gogol was no Dante. He could not legislate in his novels. But he pinned sinners more lethally than most and the wild scheme to buy and sell the dead, today looks a lot like... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Peter Jakobsen
In contrast to the gloomy title of the book, "Dead Souls," is actually a whimsical romp with one 'Chichikov,' and his manservant, 'Pertrushka,' through provincial Czarist Russia in... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Brent Hightower