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.
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Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol was born in 1809; his family belonged to a minor gentry of Ukrainian Cossack extraction, and his father was the author of a number of plays based on Ukrainian popular tales. He attended school in Nézhin and gained… More about Nikolai Gogol