Nikolai Gogol, 1809-1852: A Centenary Survey

By Janko Lavrin | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

GOGOL DIED at the comparatively early age of forty- three. It is idle to speculate as to what he might have achieved had he lived longer and had he come to terms with himself and with the world. Even as it is, his work remains one of the great landmarks in Russian literature, while Gogol himself represents one of the most puzzling transition-figures between the romantic and the realistic periods in European literature as a whole. Unable to reconcile his archaic pattern of mind with a modern pattern of existence, Gogol was almost bound to use his art first as a romantic escape from, and then as an indictment of, that reality which he could not accept or endure. His accusations of life were intensified by his own moral pessimism, by his angoisse, as well as by those catastrophic moods which bring him strangely near to some present-day European authors. Another point he has in common with our age is his anxious enquiry into the meaning, and also into the moral and social responsibility, of art. An enquiry of this kind could not but mobilise all his ethical and religious propensities which, strong though they may have been, were distorted by his own inhibitions. The mixture of the archaic elements of a 'primitive' on the one hand, and of the restless quest of a modern déraciné on the other, only added to the difficulties which landed Gogol in all sorts of painful dilemmas, and eventually in a calamity

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Nikolai Gogol, 1809-1852: A Centenary Survey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Chapter One - Pushkin and Gogol 9
  • Chapter Two - The Vagaries of Growth 20
  • Chapter Three - The First Triumph 32
  • Chapter Four - Mirgorod 45
  • Chapter Five - The Impact of Petersburg 60
  • Chapter Six - Gogol the Playwright 78
  • Chapter Seven - Dead Souls 95
  • Chapter Eight - The Moralist Versus the Artist 120
  • Chapter Nine - The Defeat 132
  • Chapter Ten - The Last Act 142
  • Conclusion 158
  • A Note on Gogol in Music and on the Screen 163
  • Notes and Comments 165
  • Bibliography 171
  • Index 173
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