Nikolai Gogol

Gogol, Nikolai Vasilyevich

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol (nyĬkəlī´ vəsē´lyəvĬch gô´gəl), 1809–52, Russian short-story writer, novelist, and playwright, sometimes considered the father of Russian realism. Of Ukrainian origin, he first won literary success with fanciful and romantic tales of his native Ukraine in Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka (1831–32). His next stories, in Mirgorod (1835), contained elements of romance, humor, and the supernatural. "Taras Bulba," part of the collection, is a vigorous description of the adventures of a 17th-century Cossack. Gogol then wrote several tales set in St. Petersburg. The most famous of these is The Overcoat (1842), about a downtrodden clerk who sacrifices much to buy a new overcoat that is stolen the first time he wears it. As a dramatist Gogol's fame rests on The Inspector-General (1836), a satire on provincial officials. Petty vice and human folly are caricatured in this as in all his mature work. His picaresque novel Dead Souls (1842) concerns the rogue Chichikov who buys the names of dead serfs from landowners in order to mortgage them as property. This work is the culmination of Gogol's gift for caricature, imagery, and invention. Haunted throughout his life by moral and religious problems, and adverse criticism from his contemporaries, his powers declined as he attempted to write a second part to his novel, embodying positive spiritual values. In a frenzy he destroyed the manuscript; greatly depressed, his health ruined by fanatical fasting, he died shortly thereafter. Gogol's work is realistic in its concern for rich detail, but he is famed primarily for creating a fantastic world of the imagination. Most of his works have been translated into English.

See his letters, ed. by C. R. Proffer (1968); his Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends (tr. 1969); biographies by J. Lavrin (1926, repr. 1973) and H. Troyat (tr. 1973); studies by V. Erlich (1969), T. S. Lindstrom (1974), and D. Fanger (1979).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Exploring Gogol
Robert A. Maguire.
Stanford University, 1994
Gogol's Afterlife: The Evolution of a Classic in Imperial and Soviet Russia
Stephen Moeller-Sally.
Northwestern University Press, 2002
FREE! Dead Souls
Nikolai Gogol; D. J. Hogarth.
J.M. Dent, 1917
FREE! The Inspector-General: A Comedy in Five Acts
Nikolai Gogol; Thomas Seltzer.
A. A. Knopf, 1916
Nikolai Gogol, 1809-1852: A Centenary Survey
Janko Lavrin.
Sylvan Press, 1951
Nikolai Gogol: Between Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism
Edyta M. Bojanowska.
Harvard University Press, 2007
Writing as Exorcism: The Personal Codes of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol
Ilya Kutik.
Northwestern University Press, 2005
The Ridiculous Jew: The Exploitation and Transformation of a Stereotype in Gogol, Turgenev, and Dostoevsky
Gary Rosenshield.
Stanford University Press, 2008
The Nationalism of Nikolai Gogol': Betwixt and Between?1
Ilnytzkyj, Oleh S.
Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol. 49, No. 3/4, September-December 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Russia Discovered: Nineteenth-Century Fiction from Pushkin to Chekhov
Angus Calder.
Heinemann, 1976
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Literature and Serfdom: Gogol, Lermontov and Goncharov"
The Mirror in the Roadway a Study of the Modern Novel
Frank O'Connor.
Alfred A. Knopf, 1956
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Gogol's Shoe"
The Devils in the Details: The Role of Evil in the Short Fiction of Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Maus, Derek.
Papers on Language & Literature, Vol. 38, No. 1, Winter 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Narrative Oscillation in Gogol's 'Nevsky Prospect.'
Hart, Pierre R.
Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. 31, No. 4, Fall 1994
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