Nikolai Gogol
Overview
 
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol ' onMouseout='HidePop("33682")' href="/topics/Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates">O.S.
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

; 19 March 1809 – 21 February 1852 N.S.) was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist.

Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 sensibility, with strains of Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 and the grotesque
Grotesque
The word grotesque comes from the same Latin root as "Grotto", meaning a small cave or hollow. The original meaning was restricted to an extravagant style of Ancient Roman decorative art rediscovered and then copied in Rome at the end of the 15th century...

 ("The Nose", "Viy
Viy (story)
"Viy" is a horror short story by the Ukrainian-born Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, first published in the first volume of his collection of tales entitled Mirgorod . The title refers to the name of a demonic entity central to the plot....

", "The Overcoat
The Overcoat
"The Overcoat" is the title of a short story by Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842. The story and its author have had great influence on Russian literature, thus spawning Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous quote: "We all come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat'." The story has been...

," "Nevsky Prospekt
Nevsky Prospekt (story)
Nevsky Prospect is a short story by Nikolai Gogol, written between 1831 and 1834, and published in 1835.- Summary :Influenced strongly by the Sentimental movement, the protagonist of "Nevsky Prospekt" is a pathetic and insignificant romantic, the narrator is chatty and unreliable, and realism...

").
Quotations

What a dreary world we live in, gentlemen.

How the Two Ivans Quarrelled|How the Two Ivans Quarrelled (1835)

In the course of reading he became more and more melancholy and finally became completely gloomy. When the reading was over he uttered in a voice full of sorrow: "Goodness, how sad is our Russia!"

On Alexander Pushkin in Four Letters Concerning Dead Souls (1843)

I shall laugh my bitter laugh.

Epitaph on Gogol's tombstone

It is no use to blame the looking glass if your face is awry.

Epigraph

Of course, Alexander the Great was a hero, but why smash the chairs?

Epigraph; said of a history teacher who smashed a chair in his excitement when discussing the conqueror

The more destruction there is everywhere, the more it shows the activity of town authorities.

Act I, sc. i

I tell everyone very plainly that I take bribes, but what kind of bribes? Why, greyhound puppies. That's a totally different matter.

Act I, sc. i

The sergeant's widow told you a lie when she said I flogged her. I never flogged her. She flogged herself.

Act IV, sc. xv

What are you laughing at? You are laughing at yourselves!

Act V, sc. viii

As it is so strangely ordained in this world, what is amusing will turn into being gloomy, if you stand too long before it, and then God knows what ideas may not stray into the mind... Why is it that even in moments of unthinking, careless gaiety a different and strange mood comes upon one?

Vol. I, ch. 3

Encyclopedia
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol ' onMouseout='HidePop("33682")' href="/topics/Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates">O.S.
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

; 19 March 1809 – 21 February 1852 N.S.) was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist.

Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 sensibility, with strains of Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 and the grotesque
Grotesque
The word grotesque comes from the same Latin root as "Grotto", meaning a small cave or hollow. The original meaning was restricted to an extravagant style of Ancient Roman decorative art rediscovered and then copied in Rome at the end of the 15th century...

 ("The Nose", "Viy
Viy (story)
"Viy" is a horror short story by the Ukrainian-born Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, first published in the first volume of his collection of tales entitled Mirgorod . The title refers to the name of a demonic entity central to the plot....

", "The Overcoat
The Overcoat
"The Overcoat" is the title of a short story by Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842. The story and its author have had great influence on Russian literature, thus spawning Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous quote: "We all come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat'." The story has been...

," "Nevsky Prospekt
Nevsky Prospekt (story)
Nevsky Prospect is a short story by Nikolai Gogol, written between 1831 and 1834, and published in 1835.- Summary :Influenced strongly by the Sentimental movement, the protagonist of "Nevsky Prospekt" is a pathetic and insignificant romantic, the narrator is chatty and unreliable, and realism...

"). His early works, such as Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka
Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka
Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka is a collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol, written from 1831-1832. They appeared in various magazines and were published in book form when Gogol, who had spent his life in Ukraine up to the age of nineteen, was twenty two. He put his early impressions and...

, were influenced by his Ukrainian upbringing, Ukrainian culture and folklore
Ukrainian folklore
Ukrainian folklore is the folk tradition which has developed in Ukraine and among ethnic Ukrainians. The earliest examples of folklore found in Ukraine is the layer of pan-slavic folklore that dates back to the ancient Slavic mythology of the Eastern Slavs. Gradually, Ukrainians developed a layer...

. His later writing satirised political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 (The Government Inspector, Dead Souls
Dead Souls
Dead Souls is a novel by Nikolai Gogol, first published in 1842, and widely regarded as an exemplar of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an "epic poem in prose", and within the book as a "novel in verse". Despite supposedly completing the trilogy's second part, Gogol...

), leading to his eventual exile. The novel Taras Bulba
Taras Bulba
Taras Bulba is a romanticized historical novel by Nikolai Gogol. It tells the story of an old Zaporozhian Cossack, Taras Bulba, and his two sons, Andriy and Ostap. Taras’ sons studied at the Kiev Academy and return home...

(1835) and the play Marriage (1842), along with the short stories "Diary of a Madman
Diary of a Madman (story)
Diary of a Madman is a farcical short story by Nikolai Gogol. Along with The Overcoat and The Nose, Diary of a Madman is considered to be one of Gogol's greatest short stories. The tale centers on the life of a minor civil servant during the repressive era of Nicholas I...

", "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich
The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich
"The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich" "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich" "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich" (Russian: Повесть о том, как поссорился Иван Иванович с Иваном Никифоровичем, translit...

", "The Portrait
The Portrait (short story)
The Portrait is a short story by Nikolai Gogol, originally published in the short story collection Arabesques in 1835....

" and "The Carriage
The Carriage
The Carriage is a short story by Nikolai Gogol, one of his shortest works. After reading it, Anton Chekhov wrote to Alexei Suvorin, "What an artist he is! His 'Carriage' alone is worth two hundred thousand rubles...

", round out the tally of his best-known works.

Early life

Gogol was born in the Ukrainian Cossack village of Sorochyntsi
Velyki Sorochyntsi
Velyki Sorochyntsi is a village in the Poltava Oblast of central Ukraine. It can be translated as the Grand Sorochyntsi. The village is located in the Myrhorodsky Raion of the oblast, at around , and is famous as both the birthplace of the great writer Nikolai Gogol and the location of the...

, in Poltava Governorate
Poltava Governorate
The Poltava Governorate or Government of Poltava was a guberniya in the historical Left-bank Ukraine region of the Russian Empire, which was officially created in 1802 from the disbanded Malorossiya Governorate which was split between the Chernigov Governorate and Poltava Governorate with an...

 of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, present-day Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. His mother was a descendant of Polish
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 landowners. His father Vasily Gogol-Yanovsky
Vasily Gogol-Yanovsky
Vasili Panasovich Gogol-Yanovsky - was the father of the writer Nikolai Gogol. The landlord of the village of Vasylivka, Gogoleva), Mirgorod Uyezd, in Poltava oblast....

, a descendant of Ukrainian Cossacks, belonged to the 'petty gentry', wrote poetry in Ukrainian and Russian, and was an amateur Ukrainian-language playwright, who died when Gogol was 15 years old. As was typical of the left-bank Ukrainian gentry of the early nineteenth century, the family spoke Russian as well as Ukrainian. As a child, Gogol helped stage Ukrainian-language plays in his uncle's home theater.

In 1820 Gogol went to a school of higher art in Nizhyn
Nizhyn
Nizhyn is a city located in the Chernihiv Oblast of northern Ukraine, along the Oster River, north-east of the nation's capital, Kiev. It is the administrative center of the Nizhynsky Raion, though the city itself is also designated as a district in the oblast...

 and remained there until 1828. It was there that he began writing. He was not popular among his schoolmates, who called him their "mysterious dwarf", but with two or three of them he formed lasting friendships. Very early he developed a dark and secretive disposition, marked by a painful self-consciousness and boundless ambition. Equally early he developed a talent for mimicry, which later made him a matchless reader of his own works and induced him to toy with the idea of becoming an actor.

In 1828, on leaving school, Gogol came to St Petersburg, full of vague but glowingly ambitious hopes. He had hoped for literary fame, and brought with him a Romantic poem of German idyllic life – Hans Küchelgarten. He had it published, at his own expense, under the name of "V. Alov." The magazines he sent it to almost universally derided it. He bought all the copies and destroyed them, swearing never to write poetry again.

Gogol was one of the first masters of the short story, alongside Alexander Pushkin, Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée was a French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and short story writer. He is perhaps best known for his novella Carmen, which became the basis of Bizet's opera Carmen.-Life:...

, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

. He was in touch with the "literary aristocracy", had a story published in Anton Delvig's Northern Flowers
Northern Flowers
Northern Flowers was a Russian language literary almanac published yearly in Saint Petersburg from 1825 to 1832. The full title in Russian was Северные цветы, собранные бароном Дельвигом Northern Flowers was a Russian language literary almanac published yearly in Saint Petersburg from 1825 to 1832....

, was taken up by Vasily Zhukovsky
Vasily Zhukovsky
Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky was the foremost Russian poet of the 1810s and a leading figure in Russian literature in the first half of the 19th century...

 and Pyotr Pletnyov
Pyotr Pletnyov
Pyotr Alexandrovich Pletnyov was a minor Russian poet and literary critic, who rose to become the dean of the Saint Petersburg University and academician of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences ....

, and (in 1831) was introduced to Pushkin.

Literary development

In 1831, he brought out the first volume of his Ukrainian stories (Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka
Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka
Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka is a collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol, written from 1831-1832. They appeared in various magazines and were published in book form when Gogol, who had spent his life in Ukraine up to the age of nineteen, was twenty two. He put his early impressions and...

), which met with immediate success. He followed it in 1832 with a second volume, and in 1835 by two volumes of stories entitled Mirgorod
Mirgorod (Gogol)
Mirgorod is a collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol meant to be a sequel of sorts to his two volumes of Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka...

, as well as by two volumes of miscellaneous prose entitled Arabesques. At this time Russian editors and critics such as Nikolai Polevoy
Nikolai Polevoy
Nikolai Alekseevich Polevoy was a controversial Russian editor, writer, translator, and historian; his brother was the critic and journalist Ksenofont Polevoy and his sister the writer and publisher of folktales Ekaterina Avdeeva.Polevoy was from an old merchant family from Kursk but was born in...

 and Nikolai Nadezhdin
Nikolai Nadezhdin
Nikolai Ivanovich Nadezhdin was a Russian literary critic and Russia's first ethnographer.Born in the Zaraisk District of Ryazan guberniya, Nadezhdin graduated from Ryazan Seminary in 1815 and Moscow Religious Academy in 1824...

 saw in Gogol the emergence of a Ukrainian, rather than Russian, writer, using his works to illustrate supposed differences between Russian and Ukrainian national characters, a fact that has been overlooked in later Russian literary history. At this time, Gogol developed a passion for Ukrainian history and tried to obtain an appointment to the history department at Kiev University
Kiev University
Taras Shevchenko University or officially the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv , colloquially known in Ukrainian as KNU is located in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. It is the third oldest university in Ukraine after the University of Lviv and Kharkiv University. Currently, its structure...

. Despite the support of Pushkin and Sergey Uvarov
Sergey Uvarov
Count Sergey Semionovich Uvarov was a Russian classical scholar best remembered as an influential imperial statesman....

, the Russian minister of education, his appointment was blocked by a Kievan bureaucrat
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 on the grounds that he was unqualified. His fictional story Taras Bulba
Taras Bulba
Taras Bulba is a romanticized historical novel by Nikolai Gogol. It tells the story of an old Zaporozhian Cossack, Taras Bulba, and his two sons, Andriy and Ostap. Taras’ sons studied at the Kiev Academy and return home...

, based on the history of Ukrainian cossacks
Zaporozhian Host
The Zaporozhian Cossacks or simply Zaporozhians were Ukrainian Cossacks who lived beyond the rapids of the Dnieper river, the land also known as the Great Meadow in Central Ukraine...

, was the result of this phase in his interests. During this time he also developed a close and life-long friendship with another Ukrainian, the historian and naturalist Mykhaylo Maksymovych
Mykhaylo Maksymovych
Mykhailo Oleksandrovych Maksymovych was a famous Ukrainian naturalist, historian and writer....

.

In 1834 Gogol was made Professor of Medieval History at the University of St. Petersburg, a job for which he had no qualifications. He turned in a performance ludicrous enough to warrant satiric treatment in one of his own stories. After an introductory lecture made up of brilliant generalizations which the 'historian' had prudently prepared and memorized, he gave up all pretense at erudition and teaching, missed two lectures out of three, and when he did appear, muttered unintelligibly through his teeth. At the final examination, he sat in utter silence with a black handkerchief wrapped around his head, simulating a toothache, while another professor interrogated the students." This academic venture proved a failure and he resigned his chair in 1835.

Between 1832 and 1836 Gogol worked with great energy, and though almost all his work has in one way or another its sources in these four years of contact with Pushkin, he had not yet decided that his ambitions were to be fulfilled by success in literature. During this time, the Russian critics Stepan Shevyrev and Vissarion Belinsky
Vissarion Belinsky
Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky was a Russian literary critic of Westernizing tendency. He was an associate of Alexander Herzen, Mikhail Bakunin , and other critical intellectuals...

, contradicting earlier critics, reclassified Gogol from a Ukrainian to a Russian writer. It was only after the presentation, on 19 April 1836, of his comedy The Government Inspector (Revizor) that he finally came to believe in his literary vocation. The comedy, a violent satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 of Russian provincial bureaucracy, was staged thanks only to the intervention of the emperor, Nicholas I
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

.

From 1836 to 1848 Gogol lived abroad, travelling through Germany and Switzerland. Gogol spent the winter of 1836–1837 in Paris, among Russian expatriate
Expatriate
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

s and Polish exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

s, frequently meeting the Polish poets Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Bernard Mickiewicz ) was a Polish poet, publisher and political writer of the Romantic period. One of the primary representatives of the Polish Romanticism era, a national poet of Poland, he is seen as one of Poland's Three Bards and the greatest poet in all of Polish literature...

 and Bohdan Zaleski
Józef Bohdan Zaleski
Józef Bohdan Zaleski was a Polish Romantic poet. A friend of Adam Mickiewicz, Zaleski founded the "Ukrainian poetic school."-Life:...

. He eventually settled in Rome. For much of the twelve years from 1836 Gogol was in Italy. He studied art, read Italian literature and developed a passion for opera. He mingled with Russian and other visitors, and in 1838 met Count Ioseph Vielhorskiy, the 23-year-old son of the official who had brought Gogol's Government Inspector to the attention of the emperor. Vielhorsky was travelling in hopes of curing his tuberculosis. Gogol became deeply attached to the young man and attended him in his illness, but in 1839 Vielhorsky died. Gogol left an account of this time in his Nights at the Villa.

Pushkin's death produced a strong impression on Gogol. His principal work during years following Pushkin's death was the satirical epic Dead Souls. Concurrently, he worked at other tasks – recast Taras Bulba
Taras Bulba
Taras Bulba is a romanticized historical novel by Nikolai Gogol. It tells the story of an old Zaporozhian Cossack, Taras Bulba, and his two sons, Andriy and Ostap. Taras’ sons studied at the Kiev Academy and return home...

and The Portrait
The Portrait (short story)
The Portrait is a short story by Nikolai Gogol, originally published in the short story collection Arabesques in 1835....

, completed his second comedy, Marriage (Zhenitba), wrote the fragment Rome and his most famous short story, The Overcoat
The Overcoat
"The Overcoat" is the title of a short story by Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842. The story and its author have had great influence on Russian literature, thus spawning Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous quote: "We all come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat'." The story has been...

.

In 1841 the first part of Dead Souls was ready, and Gogol took it to Russia to supervise its printing. It appeared in Moscow in 1842, under the title, imposed by the censorship
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

, of The Adventures of Chichikov. The book instantly established his reputation as the greatest prose writer in the language.

Creative decline and death

After the triumph of Dead Souls, Gogol came to be regarded by his contemporaries as a great satirist who lampooned the unseemly sides of Imperial Russia. Little did they know that Dead Souls was but the first part of a planned modern-day counterpart to The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

. The first part represented the Inferno; the second part was to depict the gradual purification and transformation of the rogue Chichikov under the influence of virtuous publicans and governors — Purgatory
Purgatory
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...

.

From Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 Gogol returned to Russia, and passed his last years in restless movement throughout the country. While visiting the capitals, he stayed with friends such as Mikhail Pogodin
Mikhail Pogodin
Mikhail Petrovich Pogodin was a Russian historian and journalist who, jointly with Nikolay Ustryalov, dominated the national historiography between the death of Nikolay Karamzin in 1826 and the rise of Sergey Solovyov in the 1850s. He is best remembered as a staunch proponent of the Normanist...

 and Sergei Aksakov
Sergei Aksakov
Sergey Timofeyevich Aksakov was a 19th-century Russian literary figure remembered for his semi-autobiographical tales of family life, as well as his books on hunting and fishing.- Early life :...

. During this period he also spent much time with his old Ukrainian friends, Maksymovych
Mykhaylo Maksymovych
Mykhailo Oleksandrovych Maksymovych was a famous Ukrainian naturalist, historian and writer....

 and Osyp Bodiansky. More importantly, he intensified his relationship with a starets
Starets
A starets is an elder of a Russian Orthodox monastery who functions as venerated adviser and teacher. Elders or spiritual fathers are charismatic spiritual leaders whose wisdom stems from God as obtained from ascetic experience...

 or spiritual elder, Matvey Konstantinovsky, whom he had known for several years. Konstantinovsky seems to have strengthened in Gogol the fear of perdition by insisting on the sinfulness of all his imaginative work. His health was undermined by exaggerated ascetic practices and he fell into a state of deep depression. On the night of 24 February 1852, he burned some of his manuscripts, which contained most of the second part of Dead Souls. He explained this as a mistake, a practical joke played on him by the Devil
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

. Soon thereafter he took to bed, refused all food, and died in great pain nine days later.

Gogol was mourned in the Saint Tatiana church at the Moscow University before his burial and then buried at the Danilov Monastery
Danilov Monastery
Danilov Monastery, in full Svyato-Danilov Monastery or Holy Danilov Monastery , is a monastery on the right bank of the Moskva River in Moscow, Russia...

, close to his fellow Slavophile
Slavophile
Slavophilia was an intellectual movement originating from 19th century that wanted the Russian Empire to be developed upon values and institutions derived from its early history. Slavophiles were especially opposed to the influences of Western Europe in Russia. There were also similar movements in...

 Aleksey Khomyakov
Aleksey Khomyakov
Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov was a Russian religious poet who co-founded the Slavophile movement along with Ivan Kireyevsky, and became one of its most distinguished theoreticians....

. In 1931 Moscow authorities decided to demolish the monastery and had his remains transferred to the Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Moscow, Russia. It is next to the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent, which is the city's third most popular tourist site. It should not be confused with the Novodevichy Cemetery in Saint Petersburg....

.

His body was discovered lying face down; which gave rise to the story that Gogol had been buried alive. A Soviet critic even cut a part of his jacket to use as a binding for his copy of Dead Souls. A piece of rock which used to stand on his grave at the Danilov was reused for the tomb of Gogol's admirer Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhaíl Afanásyevich Bulgákov was a Soviet Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which The Times of London has called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.-Biography:Mikhail Bulgakov was born on...

.

The first Gogol monument in Moscow was a Symbolist statue on Arbat Square, which represented the sculptor Nikolay Andreyev
Nikolay Andreyev
Nikolay Andreyevich Andreyev was a Russian sculptor, graphic artist and stage designer. As a young man Andreyev studied with Sergey Volnukhin and in 1902 became associated with the Peredvizhniki group of realists. Andreyev's brother V.A. Andreyev was also a sculptor.Andreyev was the designer of...

's idea of Gogol, rather than the real man. Unveiled in 1909, the statue was praised by Ilya Repin and Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

 as an outstanding projection of Gogol's tortured personality. Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 did not like it, however; and the statue was replaced by a more orthodox Socialist Realism
Socialist realism
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art which was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in other communist countries. Socialist realism is a teleologically-oriented style having its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism...

 monument in 1952. It took enormous efforts to save Andreyev's original work from destruction; it now stands in front of the house where Gogol died.

Style

D.S. Mirsky characterized Gogol's universe as "one of the most marvellous, unexpected — in the strictest sense, original — worlds ever created by an artist of words".

The other main characteristic of Gogol's writing is his impressionist
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 vision of reality and people. He saw the outer world romantically metamorphosed, a singular gift particularly evident from the fantastic spatial transformations in his Gothic stories, A Terrible Vengeance
A Terrible Vengeance
A Terrible Vengeance is a Gothic horror story by Nikolai Gogol. It was published in the second volume of his first short story collection, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, in 1832, and it was probably written in late Summer 1831....

and A Bewitched Place
A Bewitched Place
A Bewitched Place is the last story in the second volume of Nikolai Gogol's first collection of short stories, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka ....

. His pictures of nature are strange mounds of detail heaped on detail, resulting in an unconnected chaos of things. His people are caricatures, drawn with the method of the caricaturist — which is to exaggerate salient features and to reduce them to geometrical pattern. But these cartoons have a convincingness, a truthfulness, and inevitability — attained as a rule by slight but definitive strokes of unexpected reality — that seems to beggar the visible world itself.

The aspect under which the mature Gogol sees reality is expressed by the untranslatable Russian word poshlost', which is perhaps best rendered as "self-satisfied inferiority", moral and spiritual, widespread in some group or society (from Russian, poshlo, meaning "went"). Like Sterne before him, Gogol was a great destroyer of prohibitions and romantic illusions. It was he who undermined Russian Romanticism by making vulgarity reign where only the sublime and the beautiful had reigned. "Characteristic of Gogol is a sense of boundless superfluity that is soon revealed as utter emptiness and a rich comedy that suddenly turns into metaphysical horror." His stories often interweave pathos and mockery, while "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich
The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich
"The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich" "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich" "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich" (Russian: Повесть о том, как поссорился Иван Иванович с Иваном Никифоровичем, translit...

" begins as a merry farce and ends with the famous dictum, "It is dull in this world, gentlemen!"

Politics

Gogol was stunned when The Government Inspector came to be interpreted by many, despite Nicholas I's patronage of the play, as an indictment of Tsarism. In reality, Gogol himself was an adherent of the Slavophile
Slavophile
Slavophilia was an intellectual movement originating from 19th century that wanted the Russian Empire to be developed upon values and institutions derived from its early history. Slavophiles were especially opposed to the influences of Western Europe in Russia. There were also similar movements in...

 movement and believed in a divinely inspired mission for both the House of Romanov and the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

. Similarly to Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gogol sharply disagreed with those Russians who preached Constitutional Monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 and the Disestablishment of the Orthodox Church.

After defending Autocracy
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

, Serfdom
Serfdom
Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

, and Orthodoxy in his book Selected Passages from Correspondence with his Friends, Gogol was attacked by his former patron Vissarion Belinsky
Vissarion Belinsky
Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky was a Russian literary critic of Westernizing tendency. He was an associate of Alexander Herzen, Mikhail Bakunin , and other critical intellectuals...

. The first Russian intellectual to publicly preach the economic theories of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Belinsky accused Gogol of betraying his readership by defending the status quo.

Influence and interpretations

Even before the publication of Dead Souls, Belinsky recognized Gogol as the first realist writer in the language and the head of the Natural School, to which he also assigned such younger or lesser authors as Goncharov
Ivan Goncharov
Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov was a Russian novelist best known as the author of Oblomov .- Biography :Ivan Goncharov was born in Simbirsk ; his father was a wealthy grain merchant and respected official who was elected mayor of Simbirsk several times...

, Turgenev
Ivan Turgenev
Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His first major publication, a short story collection entitled A Sportsman's Sketches, is a milestone of Russian Realism, and his novel Fathers and Sons is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century...

, Dmitry Grigorovich
Dmitry Grigorovich
- Early life :Grigorovich was born in Simbirsk, where his family were members of the landed gentry. His father was Russian and his mother French. From 1832 to 1835 he studied at several French and German private schools in Moscow...

, Vladimir Dahl and Vladimir Sollogub. Gogol himself seemed to be skeptical about the existence of such a literary movement. Although he recognized "several young writers" who "have shown a particular desire to observe real life", he upbraided the deficient composition and style of their works. Nevertheless, subsequent generations of radical critics celebrated Gogol (the author in whose world a nose roams the streets of the Russian capital) as a great realist, a reputation decried by the Encyclopaedia Britannica as "the triumph of Gogolesque irony."

The period of modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 saw a revival of interest in and a change of attitude towards Gogol's work. One of the pioneering works of Russian formalism
Russian formalism
Russian formalism was an influential school of literary criticism in Russia from the 1910s to the 1930s. It includes the work of a number of highly influential Russian and Soviet scholars such as Viktor Shklovsky, Yuri Tynianov, Vladimir Propp, Boris Eichenbaum, Roman Jakobson, Grigory Vinokur who...

 was Eichenbaum
Boris Eichenbaum
Boris Mikhailovich Eikhenbaum, or Eichenbaum was a Russian and Soviet literary scholar, and historian of Russian literature. He is a representative of Russian formalism.- Biography :...

's reappraisal of The Overcoat. In the 1920s, a group of Russian short story writers, known as the Serapion Brothers
Serapion Brothers
The Serapion Brothers was a group of writers formed in Petrograd, Russia in 1921. The group was named after a literary group, Die Serapionsbrüder , to which German romantic author E.T.A. Hoffmann belonged and after which he named a collection of his tales...

, placed Gogol among their precursors and consciously sought to imitate his techniques. The leading novelists of the period – notably Yevgeny Zamyatin
Yevgeny Zamyatin
Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin was a Russian author of science fiction and political satire. Despite having been a prominent Old Bolshevik, Zamyatin was deeply disturbed by the policies pursued by the CPSU following the October Revolution...

 and Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhaíl Afanásyevich Bulgákov was a Soviet Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which The Times of London has called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.-Biography:Mikhail Bulgakov was born on...

 – also admired Gogol and followed in his footsteps. In 1926, Vsevolod Meyerhold
Vsevolod Meyerhold
Vsevolod Emilevich Meyerhold was a great Russian and Soviet theatre director, actor and theatrical producer. His provocative experiments dealing with physical being and symbolism in an unconventional theatre setting made him one of the seminal forces in modern international theatre.-Early...

 staged The Government Inspector as a "comedy of the absurd situation", revealing to his fascinated spectators a corrupt world of endless self-deception. In 1934, Andrei Bely
Andrei Bely
Andrei Bely was the pseudonym of Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev , a Russian novelist, poet, theorist, and literary critic. His novel Petersburg was regarded by Vladimir Nabokov as one of the four greatest novels of the 20th century.-Biography:...

 published the most meticulous study of Gogol's literary techniques up to that date, in which he analyzed the colours prevalent in Gogol's work depending on the period, his impressionistic use of verbs, expressive discontinuity of his syntax, complicated rhythmical patterns of his sentences, and many other secrets of his craft. Based on this work, Vladimir Nabokov published a summary account of Gogol's masterpieces in 1944.
Gogol's impact on Russian literature has been enduring, yet his works have been appreciated differently by various critics. Belinsky, for instance, berated his horror stories as "moribund, monstrous works", while Andrei Bely
Andrei Bely
Andrei Bely was the pseudonym of Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev , a Russian novelist, poet, theorist, and literary critic. His novel Petersburg was regarded by Vladimir Nabokov as one of the four greatest novels of the 20th century.-Biography:...

 counted them among his most stylistically daring creations. Nabokov singled out Dead Souls, The Government Inspector, and The Overcoat as the works of genius and dismissed the remainder as puerile essays. The latter story has been traditionally interpreted as a masterpiece of "humanitarian realism", but Nabokov and some other attentive readers argued that "holes in the language" make the story susceptible to another interpretation, as a supernatural tale about a ghostly double of a "small man." Of all Gogol's stories, The Nose has stubbornly defied all abstruse interpretations: D.S. Mirsky declared it "a piece of sheer play, almost sheer nonsense."

Gogol's oeuvre has also had a large impact on Russia's non-literary culture, and his stories have been adapted numerous times into opera and film. Russian Composer Alfred Schnittke
Alfred Schnittke
Alfred Schnittke ; November 24, 1934 – August 3, 1998) was a Russian and Soviet composer. Schnittke's early music shows the strong influence of Dmitri Shostakovich. He developed a polystylistic technique in works such as the epic First Symphony and First Concerto Grosso...

 wrote the eight part Gogol Suite as incidental music
Incidental music
Incidental music is music in a play, television program, radio program, video game, film or some other form not primarily musical. The term is less frequently applied to film music, with such music being referred to instead as the "film score" or "soundtrack"....

 to The Government Inspector performed as a play, and composer Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century....

 set The Nose as his first opera in 1930, despite the peculiar choice of subject for what was meant to initiate the great tradition of Soviet opera. Most recently, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Gogol's birth, Vienna's renowned Theater an der Wien
Theater an der Wien
The Theater an der Wien is a historic theatre on the Left Wienzeile in the Mariahilf district of Vienna. Completed in 1801, it has seen the premieres of many celebrated works of theatre, opera, and symphonic music...

 commissioned music and libretto for a full length opera on the life of Gogol from Russian composer and writer Lera Auerbach
Lera Auerbach
Lera Auerbach is a Russian-born American composer and pianist.-Early life & education:Auerbach was born in Chelyabinsk, a city in the Urals bordering Siberia. She holds degrees in piano and composition from The Juilliard School, where she studied piano with Joseph Kalichstein and composition...

.

Some attention has also been given to the apparent anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 in Gogol's writings, as well as those of his contemporary, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Felix Dreizin and David Guaspari, for example, in their The Russian Soul and the Jew: Essays in Literary Ethnocentricis discuss "the significance of the Jewish characters and the negative image of the Ukrainian Jewish community in Gogol's novel Taras Bulba, pointing out Gogol's attachment to anti-Jewish prejudices prevalent in Russian and Ukrainian culture." In Leon Poliakov's The History of Antisemitism, the author mentions that "The 'Yankel' from Taras Bulba indeed became the archetypal Jew in Russian literature. Gogol painted him as supremely exploitative, cowardly, and repulsive, albeit capable of gratitude. But it seems perfectly natural in the story that he and his cohorts be drowned in the Dniper by the Cossack lords. Above all, Yankel is ridiculous, and the image of the plucked chicken that Gogol used has made the rounds of great Russian authors."

Despite his problematic portrayal of Jewish characters, Gogol left a powerful impression even on Jewish writers who inherited his literary legacy. Amelia Glaser has noted the influence of Gogol's literary innovations on Sholem Aleichem, who "chose to model much of his writing, and even his appearance, on Gogol... What Sholem Aleichem was borrowing from Gogol was a rural East European landscape that may have been dangerous, but could unite readers through the power of collective memory. He also learned from Gogol to soften this danger through laughter, and he often rewrites Gogol's Jewish characters, correcting anti-Semitic stereotypes and narrating history from a Jewish perspective."

Gogol in popular culture

  • Gogol has been featured many times on Russian and Soviet postage stamps; he is also well-represented on stamps worldwide.
  • Several commemorative coins have been issued from Russia and the USSR. On 19 March 2009, the National Bank of Ukraine
    National Bank of Ukraine
    National Bank of Ukraine is the central bank of Ukraine. Its headquarters building, constructed between 1902 and 1934, is located at no. 9 Institutska St., in Kiev-History:...

     issued a commemorative coin dedicated to Gogol.
  • Streets have been named after Gogol in Moscow, Lipetsk
    Lipetsk
    Lipetsk is a city and the administrative center of Lipetsk Oblast, Russia, located on the banks of the Voronezh River in the Don basin, southeast of Moscow.-History:...

    , Odessa
    Odessa
    Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

    , Myrhorod
    Myrhorod
    Myrhorod or Mirgorod is a city in the Poltava Oblast of central Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Myrhorodskyi Raion , the city itself is also designated as a separate raion within the oblast, and is located on the river Khorol.-History:The town was founded either in the 12th...

    , Krasnodar
    Krasnodar
    Krasnodar is a city in Southern Russia, located on the Kuban River about northeast of the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. It is the administrative center of Krasnodar Krai . Population: -Name:...

    , Vladimir
    Vladimir
    Vladimir is a city and the administrative center of Vladimir Oblast, Russia, located on the Klyazma River, to the east of Moscow along the M7 motorway. Population:...

    , Vladivostok
    Vladivostok
    The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

    , Penza
    Penza
    -Honors:A minor planet, 3189 Penza, discovered by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1978, is named after the city.-Notable residents:...

    , Petrozavodsk
    Petrozavodsk
    Petrozavodsk is the capital city of the Republic of Karelia, Russia. It stretches along the western shore of the Lake Onega for some . The city is served by Petrozavodsk Airport. Municipally, it is incorporated as Petrozavodsky Urban Okrug . Population:...

    , Riga
    Riga
    Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

    , Bratislava
    Bratislava
    Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 431,000, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.Bratislava...

     and many other towns and cities.
  • Gogol is referenced multiple times in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment
    Crime and Punishment
    Crime and Punishment is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866. It was later published in a single volume. This is the second of Dostoyevsky's full-length novels following his...

    and Chekhov
    Anton Chekhov
    Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics...

    's The Seagull
    The Seagull
    The Seagull is the first of what are generally considered to be the four major plays by the Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov. The Seagull was written in 1895 and first produced in 1896...

    .
  • More than 35 films have been based on Gogol's work, the most recent being Taras Bulba
    Taras Bulba (2008 film)
    Taras Bulba is a historical drama film, based on a novel of the same title by Nikolai Gogol. The movie has been filmed on different locations in Ukraine such as Zaporizhia, Khotyn and Kamianets-Podilskyi as well as in Poland...

    (2008).
  • BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

     made a series of six Gogol short stories, entitled Three Ivans, Two Aunts and an Overcoat (2002, adaptations by Jim Poyser).
  • In music, the gypsy punk
    Gypsy punk
    Gypsy punk is the term used to describe a hybrid musical genre that crosses traditional Romani music with punk rock. The origin of the term is unknown, but bands playing Gypsy punk have existed at least since the 1990s. One of the first rock groups to incorporate elements of punk and Eastern...

     band Gogol Bordello
    Gogol Bordello
    Gogol Bordello is a Gypsy punk band from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, formed in 1999 and known for theatrical stage shows and persistent touring.Much of the band's sound is inspired by Gypsy music...

     is named after Gogol.
  • A song by Joy Division
    Joy Division
    Joy Division were an English rock band formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. Originally named Warsaw, the band primarily consisted of Ian Curtis , Bernard Sumner , Peter Hook and Stephen Morris .Joy Division rapidly evolved from their initial punk rock influences...

    , "Dead Souls
    Licht und Blindheit
    Licht und Blindheit is a single by post-punk band Joy Division, released by Sordide Sentimental in France in 1980.It was limited to just 1,578 copies. Bootlegged version exists and can be recognized by Medusa image on vinyl centre.-Track listing:...

    " (1980), is named after his novel.
  • James Bond
    James Bond
    James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

    's competitor (and occasional ally) is named General Gogol
    General Gogol
    General Anatol Alexis Gogol is a fictional character in the James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, and The Living Daylights. In the films, he is the head of the KGB. In his final appearance in The Living Daylights, he has transferred from...

    .
  • Gogolfest
    Gogolfest
    GOGOLFEST is an annual Ukrainian multidisciplinary international festival of contemporary art, most of the events of which took place in Kyiv at the Museum Artistic Arsenal before 2010...

     is the annual multidisciplinary international festival of contemporary art held in Kiev
    Kiev
    Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

    , Ukraine.
  • The protagonist of the novel The Namesake
    The Namesake
    The Namesake is the second book by author Jhumpa Lahiri. It was originally a novella published in The New Yorker and was later expanded to a full length novel. It explores many of the same emotional and cultural themes as her Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection Interpreter of Maladies...

    , Gogol Ganguli, is named after Nikolai Gogol.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK