Gogol's Art was published in paperback in 1997 by Bati Publishers, PO Box 263, Leverett, MA 01054. (Price $15). You can reach the author at that address or by email at Tikos@slavic.umass.edu.
Permission is granted to make and distribute complete verbatim electronic copies of this text for non-commercial purposes provided the copyright information and this permission notice are preserved on all copies. All other rights reserved.
book CD "Gogol and Russian Literature" is built around Gogol's Art:
a Search for Identity by Laszlo Tikos, the best book ever written about
Russia's most enigmatic and intriguing author. Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852)
created a new direction in Russian letters, which was further developed
in the 19th century by writers like Dostoyevsky and Rozanov, and in the
20th century by Bely, Bulgakov and Sinyavsky. In addition to Gogol's
Art, this CD includes the full text of Dead Souls, Tara Bulba, The
Inspector General, and St. John's Eve by Gogol, plus great books by Dostoeyevsky,
Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pushkin, Turgenev, Andreyev, Gorky, Kuprin, and Lermontov,
plus works on Russian history, plus two "Country Studies" -- Russia and
Belarus (birthplace of Gogol) -- which were originally published as printed
books by the Library of Congress between 1987 and 1995. For details, see
our online store http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/russian.html
the novel's continuation lasted seventeen years in all, until his death in 1852. The documentation that Gogol was working on the novel comes in a letter to Pushkin dated October 7, 1836, where Gogol informs his mentor that "I have begun to write Dead Souls . The plot has stretched out into a very long novel, and it will, I think, be extremely amusing. But now I've stopped it on the third chapter. I'm hunting for a good slanderer with whom one can become intimate. I want to show all Russia -- at least from one side -- in this novel." 1 This is the first reference to Gogol's engagement with a project longer than usual. Thus far none of his works had stretched beyond the limits of a short story, or, as in Taras Bulb'a , of a novella. Gogol seems to have had a presentiment that the project would take on a life of its own, both in direction and in length.
Just as in the contemporary "The Overcoat " (1835), the genesis of the story was provided by an anecdote which soon, perhaps to his own amazement, grew into something quite different, what he termed a poema with grand pretensions and a grand design. The basic anecdote is simple enough, while the hero is a character familiar to us from Gogol's theater. He is a traveler, a lone bachelor -- like Khlestakov and Ikharev in the plays, and even like Gogol himself, traveling in provincial Russia on his own business. On the road, the hero experiences all kinds of unexpected adventures and meets all sorts of people, whereupon he leaves as unexpectedly as he had appeared.
In comparison with Khlestakov and Ikharev, however, important differences emerge. Khlestakov, who got stuck in a government backwater, was a young fop, dined and wined and almost married to the Mayor's daughter, and who disappeared as if he had never existed, 2 after having fleeced the corrupt officials of the town. All the town's subsequent calamities were the result of their having mistaken his identity, as well as of his having taken advantage of the local officials when they offered him bribes. Ikharev was a still older version of the same hero -- or we might better call him an anti-hero (as was to be the case in Dostoyevsky's fictions as well ). 3 But this hero did not merely stumble into an adventure -- the whole purpose of his journey was to have the adventure, a profitable one if possible, while cleaning out unsuspecting travelers and provincial townspeople, thanks to his skill as a card-sharp. One cannot help but think of Herman Melville's almost contemporary The Confidence Man, whose protagonist plies the unsuspecting up and down the Mississippi River with his quack nostrums.
In Chichikov, Gogol developed, on a somewhat more epic level, a character whose adventures result from the nature of his "business". He had already noted this third transformation of the hero in Chapter XX of Selected Passages, where, in a letter to Count A. P. Tolstoy, he advocated the importance of traveling through Russia. Not the least surprising aspect of his advice to Count Tolstoy is on what to do during such a journey: One should be the opposite of a card-sharp, a swindler; one should be "useful" to the communities one visits and exploit his position in the effort to reconcile social differences. This principle of usefulness, as compared to the self-serving attitudes of Ikharev and Chichikov, provides perhaps the best starting point for an analysis of the hero's development. While Khlestakov, Ikharev and Chichikov himself are self-serving egoists, negative heroes in Gogol's fiction, they are intended rather to act as a positive force, at least in theory, moved by the needs of the community and the desire to serve. Such, of course, is the dialectical thrust of the development projected for the second and third volumes, where Gogol's problems will become insurmountable -- probably because of the conflicting demands of developing a negative hero into a positive one.
At any rate, as Dead Souls opens, Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov is traveling on business. While Ikharev's adventures were limited to a single performance in a provincial inn, Chichikov's enterprise is more elaborate, the scope of his activity is more expansive, and the confusion he creates is not limited to a single town, as in "The Inspector General", or to a provincial inn and to the crooks lodged there, but this time to a large area of Russia proper.
And even though Chichikov appears from nowhere and disappears into nowhere, he is by no means just a casual traveler. Like Ikharev before him, he has a purpose, and he is just as secretive about this purpose. He enjoys throwing up all kinds of smoke screens and talking in generalities, he likes to retain his incognito (not unlike Gogol himself, who hid his identity during his frequent travels abroad after 1836). 4 The hero's biography and purpose are revealed only slowly as the novel progresses and the hero's occupation remains a mystery.
The novel's structure is defined by Chichikov's chance meetings with a variegated cast of characters, very much as in Cervantes' Don Quixote or Dante's Divine Comedy . These works, frequently considered as the great and unapproachable prototypes of Gogol's poema, are securely framed within the hero's encounters during his journeys. Indeed, Gogol mentions Don Quixote and Cervantes in the well-known letter about his own novel and refers to the Divine Comedy as well when Chichikov brings in the completed deeds for his purchase of dead souls for registration to the Office of Registry of Serfs. 5 One could almost think of Gogol's plays as preliminary studies, as a laboratory in which he developed the basic situations and characters to be aired in Dead Souls .
Now Chichikov, at the outset, is depicted in his notorious carriage drive into the provincial town of N --, no doubt like Gogol himself, as well as the fictional Ikharev and Khlestakov before him. At any rate, Gogol emphasizes from the first the "mediocrity" of the carriage and of the occupant as well. As he says, ambiguously, "The gentleman lolling back in the chaise was neither too stout nor yet too thin; it could not be claimed that he was old, but he was no stripling, either." 6
Later, Gogol points out that his character was unknown, he was not expected, his arrival went unnoticed in any way by anybody: "His arrival in town created no stir," he says, nor was it "marked by anything out of the ordinary." 7 Only two peasants, lazily lolling around the local inn, offer their little idiotic conversation about the wheels of Chichikov's carriage, speculating whether it could go as far as Casein, or only to Moscow. Again, we are involuntarily reminded of Bulgakov's Twentieth Century Master and Margarita 8 with the entrance of the Devil into Moscow --unnoticed, unknown, unexpected. We cannot help but be influenced by Bulgakov's reading of Gogol's text, and it is not difficult to see why it can so easily be understood in religious terms as a parable of the arrival of the Devil in the Russian provinces. 9 Many critics who have commented on Gogol's religious orientation have seen in Chichikov, in his mediocrity, in his traveling incognito, the appearance of the very Devil himself. He is the low-keyed, chatty smooth Devil--like Dostoyevsky's inThe Brothers Karamazov, 10 a mediocrity, " poshlost " in refined form: the older self of the fierce, devilish forces which peopled Gogol's earlier fiction.
The traveler is Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov -- as in many other cases, his name hides some etymological riddles, this time resulting from the Ukrainian interrogative particle,chi = who, in its double form, chi-chi, to which the ending -kov has been added, thus creating the ambiguous combination, "the son of whom". Bulgakov seems to have followed in Gogol's footsteps here as well, in the first chapter of The Master and Margarita , "Never Talk to Strangers"--the entire chapter is devoted to a kind of guessing game by the heroes as to the identity of the "mysterious visitor". 11 In both cases, the nomenclature adds to the riddling nature of the stranger -- whose name cannot be guessed nor spoken. The religious significance becomes clear by extension: If God's name cannot be spoken, neither can the Devil's. We believe also that a similar etymological game is being played with the name of an important character in Volume II: Tentetnikov, that is, ten', or shadow, again with the addition of the suffix -kov, or, son of shadows.As to the first name and patronymic, Pavel Ivanovich, this can be deciphered as being made up of Paul, the first Apostle and teacher of the new religion of Christianity -- in this case, it is the new "religion" of the cult of the Devil -- and Ivanovich, that is, the Russian, son of the Russian Ivan. Thus his name tells us that he is the Prophet and teacher, traveling around Russia to spread the new creed like his New Testament forebear. Though this decipherment is at best hypothetical, judging form the riddling games Gogol played in earlier works, it seemed more than plausible.
Immediately on his arrival, Chichikov does the things expected of him: he checks in at the local inn, has his first dinner, makes his first inquiries about doings in the town -- When was the last epidemic, for instance, he asks the waiter and the town policeman. He takes a walk around town where he pays attention to a poster for the local theater and in no time has managed to introduce himself to the town officials -- and to some of the available landowners. Chichikov is ready for business. Indeed, by the end of the third chapter, he has made the acquaintance of all the town officials, has made his first trip to the countryside and has achieved his first visit with the landowner Manilov, making his first transaction and acquiring Manilov's "dead souls". Though it appears that nothing has really happened, the first three chapters serve not only as a model for what is to come, but also reintroduce familiar motifs from earlier works: comments on the inn, the road, the nature of the servants Seliphan and Petrushka, and so forth.
But before we deal with any of these, let us say a few words about the servants, especially their names. Critics have already made the point that Chichikov and his two servants make up a sort of trinity. 12 Seliphan's name in this regard can be deciphered as Serafim, or guardian angel, while Petrushka is probably a borrowing from Russian or Ukrainian folklore, the popular fool (who was a century later to figure in Stravinsky's ballet of that name). Again, mention of Bulgakov's novel seems unavoidable, since Voland and his retinue have names taken from a wide variety of sobriquets for the Devil in history. 13 Yet another trinity is made up by the horses of the brichka, or troika. 14
Topics familiar from previous works are all here: the Russian countryside, observations about architecture (both with regard to peasant houses and to Manilov's house itself) and about Manilov's family" his wife and his children, about the wife's qualities, her education (piano, French,and crocheting ), 15 about Manilov's business attitudes -- all point to a single picture of mismanagement, of dreamy innocence and a complete ignorance of the real state of affairs in this world. Thus clearly,even though characters are seamlessly drawn and very funny,the totality adds up to a devastating critique of a way of life. We see the Russian Hell as composed of mismanagement, deception, foolishness, provincial stupidity, slovenliness and a complete lack of rational practicality, that is, of understanding what is the concept now familiar to us of" one's own place" ( svoe mesto ).Typical is the scene of the loving couple: though Manilov and his wife are following the romantic ideal of a harmonious family idyll, Gogol presents them as misguided simpletons living in a fool's paradise.
Manilov's name comes from the root of the word manit ', with its connotations of enchantment and enticement. If he is the enchanting, charming fool in Gogol's version of Dante's Divine Comedy, we may regard his house as existing in the first circle of Hell -- he may not be suffering, but he is missing those positive qualities which, as in the case of Tentetnikov, Gogol presents as the qualities of the "new man": drive, enthusiasm, practical control of the environment, and material prosperity.The Manilov children's Greek names, Themistoculus and Alcides, seem also designed to recall Dante's virtuous pagans who inhabit the first circle of Hell. Manilov himself is just a dreamily misguided, careless, miserable manager of his estate, and we note that the issue of estate management is again paramount as a yardstick against which characters are measured -- much as in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. 17 Manilov, clearly, is far from being the model manager of whom Gogol dreams.
When he meets Chichikov, the devilish businessman, Manilov is no match in business acumen and does not grasp Chichikov's design: he is ready to give away his "dead souls" as a sign of friendship with his new acquaintance, but the friendship is of the wrong sort, merely a Dantean corruption; Gogol plans to counter it with an exploration of the meaning of true friendship in the projected second volume.
Chichikov's business dealings, like every other facet of the novel, serve again as a measuring stick for observation. No two business dealings are alike -- Gogol's great artistic achievement is that a recurring topic never becomes predictable or boring. Each time, the transaction is different (just as all Don Quixote's meetings on the road are different). With Manilov, the dealing is easy; with Sobakievich, it is tough going; and with Nozdrev, impossible.
Another familiar motif is the journeys to visit the various land-owners. Indeed, being on the road is so important a feature of the novel that Donald Fanger has called the road its main theme. 2 Oh his way from Manilov to Sobakievich, Chichikov runs into a heavy rainstorm and misses the road. Seliphan is so inept at driving that the carriage turns over and ditches Chichikov in the mud: the events correspond perfectly with the arduous nature of Virgil's travels. The very fact that Chichikov arrives at the next station of his journey in the middle of the night, all muddied and confused, provides another Dantean image of the darkness, the insecurity, the cold uncomfortable circumstance, while his unexpected adventures mirror those of Virgil's progress from one circle to another in Hell.
Expecting to meet Sobakievich, Chichikov instead encounters an unlikely hostess in Korobochka. He has arrived as the Nightly Visitor, accompanied by terrible weather -- as befits the entrance of the Devil in popular theater. Korobochka is a widow; Gogol's portrayal of her estate repeats many aspects of his short story, " Old World Landowners ", except that her life is still more shabby, more isolated, and breathes the stale air of a complete ignorance of the outside world. Korobochka does not know who her neighbor Sobakievich is: she has derived her knowledge of the world from some traveling salesman. Her name, Korobochka, means "little box". Gogol's box fetish has given rise to much speculation as to the name's meaning. Are the connotations sexual, emanating from her frustrated widowhood, or do they merely hint at her need to hoard whatever comes her way? It is difficult to say, though it seems logical to think that following Dante's idea Gogol is portraying in her the way a woman's positive qualities (like those, perhaps of Gogol's own mother) can go stale in the isolation and ignorance in which she lives. In general, this deterioration is one of the novel's guiding principles.Indeed, Gogol comments that the characters in the novel are not bad people, and were some small qualities to be included in their makeup, they might turn out to be perfectly acceptable. Primarily, they lack positive knowledge, the hope that things are meaningful, the vision that there are many ways to reach Paradise.We remember Donald Fanger's observation that the novel seems to be characterized by "a lack of things". Just as the dead souls in Dante's Hell most of all lack the sun, God's symbol, Gogol's characters, too, lack hope and the faith that their isolation can be broken through, that the human community makes sense, that there is a better future. The perception is fundamentally religious and highlights his basic intentions in writing Dead Souls.
The breathless logic of the road -- the meetings with unexpected adventures and colorful characters, produce the third landowner (though still not the expected and announced Sobakievich), perhaps the most colorful of all the cast, Nozdryov. In him Gogol has presented a quintessential Russian type: the reckless daredevil, the absolutely foolish and self-destructive character of whom the proverbs say, "The ocean reaches up to his knees". 18 He is an habitual liar, a violent gambler,the typically Russian bully (samodur ) as we know him from Ostrovsky's plays as well. 19 He is the reincarnation of Gogol's Nose, as a gesunkenes Kulturgut, a cultural heritage corrupted, the very essence of the destructive, unfettered, non-European forces in Russian life and history. Indeed, his name is derived from the word for nose,or rather, nostrils, probably to suggest some beast wildly breathing through inflated nostrils. He is also a gossip-monger, the busybody who, through his arrant noseness, will be Chichikov's downfall. His conflicting attributes are presented in great detail. Many of his mannerisms and sayings were to become proverbial (-- like the history teacher's query in " The Inspector General" about Alexander the Great's being a superior statesman : "But why should one break up chairs for that?" ).Thus, Nozdryov shows Chichikov and his own brother-in-law -- the three complete a troika of their own -- the boundaries of his land: "'Here is the boundary,' Nozdryov announced. 'Everything on this side of it is mine, and on the other side, too. That forest over there and everything beyond it, are all mine'" 20 In reality, everything that Nozdryov possessed, showed, said, or touched, indicated that something was missing: everything was broken, unusable, or useless to begin with. Formerly, he was married, but "marriage had not changed him in the least, especially as his wife had soon passed into the other world, leaving him with two children for whom he had no use at all. He kept, however, a good-looking nanny to take care of his children" 21 -- like Ivan Ivanovich Gapka in " The Two Ivans ". It goes without saying that Nozdryov's economy is a shambles, and that Chichikov is not getting anywhere in their business dealings. As a matter of fact, he escapes from a violent Nozdryov only through the appearance of a deus ex machina in the form of the police captain who comes to arrest Nozdryov for earlier misdeeds.
Rid thus providentially of Nozdryov, Chichikov finally makes his way to the home of the landowner he has been wanting to see ever since he left Manilov. This is Mikhail Semyonovich Sobakievich, a colorful character vastly different from the others. Where they are all bad managers of their estates, Sobakievich runs his efficiently, with an iron fist. His name has an obvious etymology, coming from the word sobaka, dog, together with the suffix -ievich, which seems to evoke a Polish, as opposed to a Russian (-evich ) context. The name itself first evokes the euphemism for the Russian expletive, sukin syn, s.o.b, while the Polish ending evokes Gogol's xenophobia, of which more will be said later (during our examination of his comparing Russian food to the "inferior quality" of French or German cuisine. Later, the author himself comments on the superiority of the Russian language over other European languages ).
Sobakievich, the "son of a bitch", is a rich man, whom Gogol describes with the word " kulak " a word which has acquired notorious overtones in the Soviet world. Gogol uses it in a similar way to denote a rich, cruel, tight-fisted, greedy, uneducated, uncultured peasant, who will look out exclusively for his own interests under all circumstances. Sobakievich is the only landowner to cheat Chichikov in return --by selling him the dead soul of a woman, Elizaveta Vorobyev, thanks to the simple device of changing the ending of her family name, dropping the final -a from the word, and making it appear to have a masculine ending. 22 Of course, Sobakievich's entire house, his furniture, his wife and children, the food he serves, all exude the same ill-natured air and bear the stamp of his character.
Gogol reveals something of the nature of the force that drives Chichikov and explains at last why he is traveling in search of dead souls to buy, though his motives are only slowly developed so that the reader is kept guessing for a long time. On several occasions, Chichikov mentions his desire to get married and start a family, to have children and heirs. And it seems that in buying those dead souls he was aiming at some advantage to enrich himself and his hypothetical children financially. 23 The plan is a scam which results from the fact that, before 1861, in the age of pre-reform Russia, the wealth of a landowner was in direct relationship to the number of his serfs. Taxation was based on the head-count of these 'souls', as serfs were officially called. As the tax base was established by periodic census, a landowners's taxes remained constant between two census takings, even if some of his serfs had died in the meantime. Chichikov's idea is to buy the "dead souls", thus freeing the landowners of their unfair tax burden and enriching himself in the bargain. Registering the dead souls he has purchased as alive, he turns himself instantly into a rich man, on paper at least, where-upon he mortgages the serfs to the State Bank. At the next census, the souls can be written off as dead, that is, as a business loss, and their owner can be compensated for his loss. The scam is thus composed of an elaborate web of deceptions, even though is based on a very simple idea, like the card game in "The Gamblers" where Icharev, the traveling con-man, is taken to the cleaners by the local confidence men. The difference is that now the get-rich-quick operation is expanded beyond a single case and provides the fabula for the picaresque novel as a whole.
Marriage also serves as a continuing leitmotif: We are by now familiar with Gogol's views on marriage, a concept that underwent tremendous change from his seeing it as the saving force for young people in love to its becoming the nightmare of lone bachelors ( Spon'ka ) facing the immediate danger of becoming entangled.In Dead Souls, Gogol elaborates his observations on the matrimonial state. We see the various landowners and their various attitudes towards marriage and family life, none of which is particularly complimentary. Chichikov himself is described as a middle-aged bachelor. In Chapter Five, where Sobakievich is introduced, he has a fleeting encounter on the road with the Governor's daughter. She is the epitome of the ephemeral female character, the elusive ideal akin to the Pannochka in Taras Bulb'a . This character provides a new note, however. Chichikov, after the first moment of infatuation, immediately reminds himself that even such heavenly persons turn into grown-up women: "But our hero was already middle-aged and of a cautious and tempered character. He also grew thoughtful and reflected, but his pondering was more positive, less irresponsible, and to some extent even well-founded ... 'A goodly wench,' he said, opening his snuff box and taking a pinch of snuff." He concludes that she will become like all other women: "What makes all women so repulsive? " (italics ours) he asks the world at large.
His visit and the business deal with Sobakievich completed, Chichikov meets one more landowner before the story switches again from the country to the town. This is Plyushkin, the sad miser. The story of his unhappy life is told in a flash-back: After the death of his wife, Plyushkin turned into a miser who, wanting to "save" his family, became ultimately responsible for its destruction. His son, who, like a new version of Shvokhnev's son in the play,"The Gamblers", joined the military and was soon pestering his father for increasing sums of money to keep up his expensive life-style, while his daughter and her two little children were chased away by Plyushkin himself, who is doomed to a sad and miserably lonely old age spent amid the rubbish and decay of his estate. Plyushkin's character is one of the great evocations of the miser in world literature, on a par with Moliere's Tartuffe or Shakespeare's Shylock.
Chichikov's business dealings with the landowners vary according to their characters: Manilov, carelessly dreamy; Korobochka, a worrying fuss-budget: Nozdryov, a violent bully; Sobakievich, who gets the better of Chichikov; and Plyushkin, the miser who insists on bargaining for kopecks, finally getting 24 rubles and 96 kopecks for the souls instead of the 25 rubles originally promised. These transactions are similar to those in "The Inspector General", where the different officials bribe Khlestakov in different ways which he accepts in equally different ways.
Gogol introduces the five landowners [in the novel's first seven chapters (out of 11)]. The scene then moves away from the countryside back to the town, where Chichikov began his excursion and where he now plans to register the "deeds" to his purchases. The description of the office of the "chinovniki " working there, the bribes they are intent on acquiring, the atmosphere of sloth and mindless discipline -- all are reminiscent of the situations and characters in "The Overcoat" and "The Inspector General."
Gogol's mood thereafter turns increasingly melancholic and lyrical, as he reminisces on the transitory nature of life, the passing of youth, the sad fate of the bachelor returning from a journey to an empty house, reflections on the nature of art, especially the art of Dead Souls.25 In The Selected Passages, Gogol had considered paramount the need for a positive, as opposed to destructive, sarcastic criticism. Negative criticism, he thought, was inferior to the lyrical, open-minded approach: 26 the novel's sub-title of poema seems to serve this purpose exactly. The comments, especially as to the nature of art, seem to reinforce this judgment: Gogol's purpose is not to ridicule Russia nor the social conditions within her borders, but rather to show up, as Dante did, the consequences of Sin. 27 What are these sins? Manilov's amiable carelessness, the fussy Korobochka's stale goodness, Nozdryov's violent, unpredictable bullying, Sobakievich's stingy godfather-like behavior, called in Russian the :samodurstvo and, finally, Plyushkin's sad miserliness. These are all sins according to Dante's definition: good qualities ill-defined and misapplied. Indeed, Dante and Virgil are cited in this chapter when Chichikov is guided through the office by one of the chinovniks, "just as Virgil had once offered his services to Dante." 28 From time to time, Gogol seems to be feeling the need to guide his reader to that end as well, and to hint at the "real" development, which is still ahead, of the theme of the "gradual regeneration of man" as Dostoyevsky was to express it at the end of Crime and Punishment: "For a long time to come," Gogol says, "I am destined by the magic powers to wander together with my strange heroes and to observe the whole vast movement of life -- to observe it through laughter which can be shared by all and through tears which are unknown and unseen. And far off still is that time when the dread whirlwind of inspiration will spout in another stream out of a head swathed in holy terror and in flashes, when in confusion and trembling men will hear the majestic thunder of other declamations." 29 The remaining four chapters are devoted to two scenarios: the first which finds Chichikov in town and the last, in which he leaves.
The town episodes display many similarities to the town scenes in The Inspector General in which Khlestakov was taken for the Inspector whom the town and the mayor managed to win over to their side. In Dead Souls, Chichikov is celebrated as "our own Pavel Ivanovich", the "Kherson landowner". Gogol unleashes his sarcasm in vitriolic descriptions of the social customs, the gossip, the scenes familiar to town life which will ultimately turn into the same sort of love intrigue as in The Inspector General. Chichikov is said to be in love with the Governor's daughter, a rumor launched unwittingly by Korobochka and Nozdryov. The action then speeds towards that denouement, namely, the impending marriage of Chichikov and the Governor's daughter.
There is nevertheless a basic difference between the plots of "The Inspector General "andDead Souls . While Khlestakov leaves as he is about to consummate his marriage, Chichikov never gets that far. The whole affair is a mirage, a tangle of rumors, and Chichikov, very much like Khlestakov, has to flee the town just as his real identity is about to be discovered. Khlestakov's identity, of course, was easily discovered by the post-master's opening both incoming and outgoing mail. In Chichikov's case, the riddle is not solved -- at least, not for the town officials. The crisis which would ensue from his exposure is postponed, and the confusion is further compounded in an aside, the postmaster's vignette of Captain Kopeikin.
The story told by the postmaster, which has little to do with Chichikov's predicament or with the townsfolk's solving the riddle of his identity.It is a wonderful little folk tale about the mistreated and misunderstood Russian hero of the 1812 campaign. It can easily be characterized as a bit of quaint, primitive folk art (lyubok ) .It also serves the purpose of masterfully delaying the development of the main thrust toward the revelation of the "real" identity of the hero, and can be compared to the excursions in the chance encounters and the tales told to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
The final chapter is devoted to the revelation of the hero's true character. He is the negative hero who wants to get ahead in life at all costs, though he shares a hero's positive qualities, his drive, his need to succeed against all obstacles -- these are the very features which turn into sins, and make him a traitor to his benefactor, his would-be father-in-law. In this guise, he is certainly deserving of a niche in the lowest circle of Dante's Hell.
Delaying the action's denouement leads Gogol to many theoretical statements on the particular nature of art and the character of the hero and to the well-known statement which echoes the words of the Psalmist: "There is a time and a place for everything. And so my hero is not a virtuous man. And I can even explain why a virtuous hero was not chosen. Because it is time at last to give the poor, virtuous man a rest; ... no, the time has come at last to put the rogue in harness." 30 Further, he hints at a time when the hero will become a virtuous man: "There will be an upsurge of Russian emotions ... and then it will become apparent how deeply embedded in the Slav nature are those elements which appear only on the surface of other people's natures ... But why speak of what is still to come?" 31 Gogol dropped hints as to the line of possible development for the second and third volumes, just as in Dante's Purgatory and Paradise where the repentant souls are promised the reward of both liberation from the consequences of their sins and the vision of Paradise.
Finally, in a long flashback, Gogol presents the hero's true biography: Chichikov's life story begins with the example provided by his father-Gogol's favorite theme in the Selected Passages as well- namely, the responsibility of parents for their children's upbringing. Chichikov's father taught him how to be greedy and calculating, so that it is no wonder that the son has followed his father's advice throughout his life. When he heard about "dead souls", the possibility of a tax scam occurred to him. The explanation brings us back in a round-about way to the beginning and to his scheme for implementing the trickery. The resulting flashback covers the entire length of the first part of the novel. Thus Gogol starts with Chichikov in government service, then traces the individual steps of his advancement. Clearly, his intentions are not so much to tell a story as to provide a stage for social criticism which is to illuminate the woefully bureaucratic nature of the Russian state and the corruption and mismanagement of its economy, despite the constant "reforms" which have come only in bursts. These reforms may even have produced some temporary relief, but cumulatively, the inertia of life always brings everything back to the path of least resistance and to the inevitable triumph of corruption and slothfulness. The whole is larded with personal asides about bachelorhood, about traveling, about the sad moral state of Russia -- the characters and the countryside appear frequently in terms of the contemporary puppet theater. There are also commentaries as to the difficulties of writing narrative prose: old concerns are aired -- the problems of narration, lyrical asides mixed with comic relief, dialogues in which both partners cheat one another, unexpected turns of events...
But Gogol is never really an outsider in his work, despite his claims. He wants the reader to be integrated into the story as well, and to participate in the argument. He warns the reader that Chichikov's is not an exceptional case: "Are we not all Chichikovs?" he asks. "Is there not a chip of Chichikov in me, too? But of course there is." 32 We see here, in different words, the query at the end of " The Inspector General": "What are you laughing at? You are laughing at yourself!"
The next unexpected logical twist occurs at the end of the volume in Chichikov's wild troika ride and a resulting glorification of Russia's own fast ride in history. The tone and arguments are similar to the ending of Gogol's youthful poem about Italy which he had written some thirty years earlier, while still a pupil . This is not, however, the Russia mired in dead souls, but the Russia of the future. And the logic is the same as in "The Nevsky Prospect " where Gogol talked about Schiller, "but not the one who wrote Wilhelm Tell and the history of the Thirty Years War " but Schiller, the famous tinsmith." 33 "Russia," he asks now, "are you not speeding along like a fiery and matchless troika? ... Russia, where are you flying? Answer me. There is no answer. The bells are tinkling and filling the air with their wonderful pealing; the air is torn and thundering as it turns to wind; everything on earth comes flying past, and looking askance at her, other peoples and states move aside and make way." 34 This vision of a regenerated Russia is unsupported by the first volume but is justified here as a preview of future events, the planned subject matter of volumes to come.
Indeed, the second volume seems an implementation of this promise. Gogol explains how to get to the promised land, how to bring about the hoped-for regeneration. 35 True to his previous statements in the Selected Passages, he does not advocate progress in general, but believes in the sensible, rational action of the individual, which will necessarily lead to a progress in particular. Cervantes' grand design, to bring back the chivalric ideal in a secular world, and Dante's vision of the journey to the self-fulfillment of the soul, to witnessing God in His Glory, oblige Gogol to demonstrate his own grand design. This design remains unclear, however; we are merely at the beginning of the journey, with all kinds of promises to be fulfilled as to where the road will lead; but the extant work is only a fragment, for Gogol burned the finished copy. Where Volume One is an image of Hell, whose satanic, deceptive hero rides through a moronic landscape, the second part, intended to portray the regeneration of both Russia and the anti-hero, Chichikov, remains only as a fragment. Nothing at all survives from the third part.We can only surmise that it was to trace the course of this regeneration.
What remains of the second part immediately shows unexpected features: Before dealing with Chichikov's visit to Tentetnikov's farm, Gogol takes time off to portray the loveliness of Nature. Long, sensuous descriptions of a paradisiacal countryside indicated that Gogol intend to introduce an opposite landscape from the mean provincial scene presented in Volume One, with its hellish rainstorms and demonic darkness. Here, instead, is the clearest indication that Gogol is following Dante's example, moving away now from Hell into Purgatory, where nature can show its real face, innocent and happy, and designed also to suggest the possibilities for human redemption.
The first landowner the reader encounters is Andrey Ivanovich Tentetnikov, "a lucky young man of thirty-two, who was a bachelor into the bargain." 36 At the moment when we meet him, he is idle, "a sky gazer ", an idealist who, "because he had no occupation, no responsibility, did not manage his estate [and] let things go," 37 without giving any directions to his household and servants, who were constantly quarrelling and fighting among themselves, while the master was idly looking out of the window, and in the afternoons devoted himself to writing a grandiose work about Russia: "Before dinner he would retire to his study for a couple of hours in order to apply himself seriously to a work he was engaged in, a work intended to embrace the whole of Russia from every angle -- civil, political, religious and philosophical." 38 But it is obvious that Gogol discounted the value of such a theoretical work, which has no useful effect on the reality of the immediate day. 39
Tentetnikov's life story illustrates the truth of Dante's vision that it is possible to see and seek the light in Purgatory, but still fail to reach it, since Purgatory is merely a way station, a place for further search and longing, but not the final destination of the soul. His youth is described in great detail: he has been under the good influence of his beloved tutor, Alexander Petrovich, who was able to set up a practical plan of education, an issue dear to Gogol's heart. His less intellectual pupils are dismissed from school sooner than the more intelligent, so that they can go out and be useful in some practical field. The second category are being prepared to become the future leaders of the nation. Their preparation consists in the tutor's instilling in them the magic word, "Forward", and Gogol is disarming in his conviction that enthusiasm to perform clearly defined, worthy goals necessarily will affect the minds of young people and cause them to behave positively when they go out into the world.
Tentetnikov's problems began with the death of his beloved tutor and the appearance on the scene of another, Fyodor Ivanovich, who replaced the goal-oriented inspiration of his predecessor's tutelage with the dead weight of formal discipline. Within no time, the good teacher's positive influence is dissipated and "everything was turned inside out." Thus, after Tentetnikov leaves school, he finds himself wondering what do with his acquired knowledge and with his desire to do good. His uncle's advice places him in a government office, where his youthful enthusiasm is quickly worn down by the stupidity and superfluous nature of the work to which he is assigned. He decides to resign from his job and return to his home to care for his estate and to do his duty as a landowner, which he sees as a noble calling. "Well, haven't I been a fool till now?" Tentetnikov exclaims. "Fate decreed that I should be the owner of an earthly paradise, and I became the slave of lifeless paper, a mere scribbler." 40 What follows reads almost like Levin's experiences in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, where he discusses the issue of the proper management of an estate, or like Pierre Bezukhov's in War and Peace . "He took matters into his own hands," Gogol tells us, "and began to issue orders. He cut down the amount of labor due from the peasants ... He dismissed the fool of a steward. He started to take an interest in everything, ... but that did not last long." 41 He also has to learn the lesson that the peasants were not so enthusiastic about his plans for improvement of the estate as he. They use the free time allotted to them for "general" improvement of their own fields, instead. The difficulty is not unlike those encountered in the kolkhoz arrangement later on in Soviet history. "Tentetnikov began to notice that his own land was giving a poorer yield than that of the peasants. His own fields were sown earlier and came up later, although there seemed nothing wrong with the work ...in short, the master noticed that the peasants were simply up to their old tricks in spite of their reduced obligations." 42 After a while, Tentetnikov gives up, and in this state we meet him now as a "disappointed lover of humanity". In this disillusionment is his great weakness, which separates him from the really good landowners projected (we assume ) for the third volume .
He suffers further defeat in his matrimonial plans. Though he lives in the village, he dismisses out of hand his neighbors' plans for socialization. These come from two political directions: from the mindless, pipe-smoking retired army officer and, on the opposite side of the social scale, the radical intellectuals. His meeting General Betryshchev's daughter, Ulinka, offers the perfect situation for a marriage, but for a chance remark of the General who addresses him with the familiar ty, instead of the vy. This misplacement of words, --as we saw in "The Two Ivans " with the word gander -- proves disastrous, and nothing comes of the projected marriage.
His grand design for social improvements and his personal aspirations for life having failed, Tentetnikov at the conclusion of Chapter One, is sinking ever more deeply into a mental and physical provincial torpor, though he still clings to his last youthful project, namely to write an all-encompassing description of the present and future state of Russia -- perhaps not unlike Gogol's own plan in his youth to write a five-volume History of the Ukraine, or, for that matter, in the mid-forties, to complete the second and third volumes of Dead Souls. 43
Here Chichikov returns. He, too, has changed; he has grown older, mellower. Gogol lovingly describes his newly acquired mannerisms: his elegant foot-scraping, his jumping backwards like a rubber ball, the accommodating nature of this now middle-aged man, tired from his journeys and longing for a settled life, for marriage and children, and financial security. He dreams of owning real peasants and real land instead of having to settle for dead souls and an estate which exists on paper only.
The new Chichikov walks about in the meadows and enjoys nature, which he did not even notice in the first volume. Yet the change is hardly fundamental, for he scrapes up capital, still dreaming of riches. "He also learned how many peasants died off," Gogol tells us. "There were not many at the Tentetnikov estate. As an intelligent observer, he could not help soon noticing that Tentetnikov's affairs were not being managed very efficiently: there was a great deal of waste, neglect, thievery and much drunkenness among the peasantry. And he thought to himself: All the same, what a pig is this Tentetnikov, to neglect his estate like this: He could be getting an income of fifty thousand a year from it."
This second part is only a fragment, and we do not know what is to happen to Tentetnikov -- whether his life is to change for the better--it seems conceivable that it might. But as we leave him, he is agreeing to send Chichikov off on a self-appointed mission to bring about a reconciliation between him and General Betryshchev (Ulinka's father) in the hopes of achieving Ulinka's hand in marriage at last. We do not know whether or not Gogol planned that he should realize his aim; but Gogol does launch a new career for the middle-aged Chichikov who, nevertheless, is still the same nosy, provincial in touch with all manner of souls. And thus the new journey begins.
A visit to General Betryshchev provides a vivid forum: Chichikov convinces the General that Tentetnikov is not a bad fellow, since he claims that Tentetnikov has written a book about the" history of generals" . Betrishchev wants to know what generals; Chichikov quips: "The book is to be about generals in general." Chichikov then manages to acquire the General's "dead souls" by telling him another tall story about his supposed uncle. 44
After Tentetnikov and Betryshchev, Chichikov wants to get in touch with a certain Colonel Koshkarev (from the Russian word koshka =cat?), but just as in the first volume, when Chichikov stumbled upon Korobochka instead of Sobakievich whom he sought, he now stumbles upon Pyotr Petrovich Petukh, Peter the Cock.
Petukh is a great gourmand. Chichikov meets him fishing and Petukh immediately invites him to dine with him, along with his neighboring landowner, Platonov. If Petukh is the very image of the hospitable Russian gentry, he is also the image of the mindlessly poor manager, who is about to waste his entire property on his sons' education, which consists of sending them to St. Petersburg. In Chichikov's imagination, they are already there, and living it up like playboys, much like young Ikharev in "The Gamblers ". The estate will soon be mortgaged to the hilt. Petukh is thus an example of the virtuous sinner who has many positive qualities, among which being economical does not figure. As the second volume progresses, Gogol puts greater and greater emphasis on this quality: by this standard, Petukh fails miserably to merit Paradise. His whole being is focused on eating; he is like the village elder in Gogol's early " The Night before Christmas ". Memorable is the conversation Chichikov half-dreamily overhears at Petukh's house, his host's instructions to his servants for the next day's repast -- this just as they have finished a feast which sent everyone with bulging stomachs to bed! "Make the fish pie a four-cornered one," he says, "'in one corner put the cheeks and dried spine of a sturgeon, in another, some buckwheat, and some mushrooms and onions and some soft roe, and, yes, some brains, and something else as well. Yes, and see to it that the crust is well browned on one side and a trifle less on the other. And see to the underside ... see that it is backed so that it's quite ... not to the point of crumbling but so that it might melt in the mouth like snow and make no crunching sound.' Petukh smacked his lips as he spoke." 45
Platonov, the other guest, is also a landowner who demonstrated the "fashionable spleen" of the Century, boredom. He is bored with everything, even though he is successful in his affairs. For a while, he becomes Chichikov's traveling companion and serves as an intermediary for the introduction of one of the volume's most important characters, Konstantin Fedorovich Kostanzhonglo.
Kostanzhonglo's name is not Russian, though Gogol does not want to reveal its etymology (suggesting, perhaps, that Gogol does not believe there can yet be any positive Russian heroes). 46 He is everything Gogol considers important: practical, he makes use of all that comes his way; there is no waste on his estate, and he is so successful that he has to send away peasants who want to work for him instead of having to deal with the contemporary problem of runaway peasants. Among other observations (Tolstoy's Levin would have envied many of the practical details in his running of a successful agricultural operation!) there is one odd curiosity which recalls Gogol's youthful enthusiasm for architecture, his comment on an observation tower on top of the main manor house designed to facilitate oversight through a spyglass: "The high rooftop of the house was topped by the turret of an observation post; it was not there for adornment nor for the sake of the view alone, but to allow the master to keep an eye on the work that was going on in the distant fields,"
The key to Konstanzhongolo's success is his personal involvement in the running of his farm, as well as his practical business sense. He engages in no such fancy business ventures as setting up factories for the sake of progress or other abstract ideas. Indeed, in order to show how not to run an estate, Konstanzhonglo takes Chichikov over to visit his neighbor, the long-awaited Koshkarev. Koshkarev is the epitome of the crazy Russo-Prussian military bureaucrat descended from the times of Peter the Great, who mistakenly believes that military orders and bureaucratic red tape are the key to economic success. Instead of real products, he and his men produce innumerable reams of paper documents on how to run a successful economy ... prophetic, all too sadly, of the numerous plans for economic reform that characterized the now-defunct Soviet regime.
A comical scene ensues in which Chichikov manages to buy Koshkarev's dead souls, where the two come to an understanding as to what the documents should show to indicate that these are indeed dead souls:"Very well',the Colonel replied' , You will put that down in writing, that the souls are, to some extent, dead."
In the character of Koshkarev, Gogol can air his views on the statism of the Russian Enlightenment in its extremist form. As Kostanzhonglo comments, "Koshkarev is a comforting phenomenon. A necessary one, too. He is the epitome and caricature of the stupidities of all our smart thinkers ... who instead of learning their job on the spot, make a point of stocking themselves with all sorts of rubbish abroad." 47
Kostanzhonglo goes on to generalize: "There is a quixotism about the Russian character now, " he says, "which it never had before. If a Russian gets a bee in his bonnet about enlightenment, he immediately becomes a Don Quixote: he will set up schools such as even a fool would not dream of founding. And such a school will produce the type of man who is good for nothing, fit neither for the city nor the village, a drunkard only, yet full of his own importance. He will turn philanthropist, a Don Quixote of hospitals and institutions ornamented with columns; then he will go bust and loose his patients on the world. That's philanthropy for you." Kostanzhonglo advises Chichikov to "till the land with the sweat of thy brow," 48 like Jehovah's first man after the Fall. To Chichikov's question as to how one can get rich quickly, Kostanzhonglo answers, "If you want to get rich quickly, then you'll never grow rich. But if you want to grow rich without worrying about time, then you'll grow rich quickly." 49 "You must love your work," he adds, "and you'll have no time for idle stupidities" -- by which he means clubs, theaters, taverns --" or for boredom." Chichikov sums up the lesson: a naturally working and busy person is God-like in his creation: "It is here that man is most like God," he exclaims. "The task of creation is God's highest pleasure, and He asks man also to be a creator and to work for prosperity all around him." We see here Gogol's most succinct formulation of his views on the question of "one's own place" ( svoe mesto ), namely, that it must be the same as God's own place and must result from the act of creation itself.
Kostanzhonglo is not only a successful landowner, but also a happily married man with a pleasant and happy wife. The implication is that achieving one's own place involves a harmonious family life, a state none of the characters of Gogol's poema has demonstrated.
Now the pace quickens in the penultimate fragment of the volume, as Gogol tries for variety and a movement towards a conclusion. We meet the next landowner, Khlobuyev, whose etymological background is possibly either to beat somebody ( khlopat' ) , or perhaps an indecent word for buttocks( zhlob ) . He is another bad landowner, neglectful in his rush to keep up with the Joneses. The details of his rundown family estate are again prophetic of the many stories of Soviet kolkhoz life, and the poverty and demoralization of the peasants.These have lost any initiative or interest, in work, as well as their inheritance of the habit of work. "But now it will take years to put it to rights," Gogol says sadly. "And the peasants, too, have lost the habit of working, they will all have become idlers and drunkards." The remedy is not surprising to Gogol's careful readers and is provided by Kostanzhonglo: hard work. "And to think that he has neglected this treasure of a land! Well, if he had nothing with which to plough, he might at least have used a spade and made it into a vegetable plot. He could have taken the spade himself, and made his wife, children, and all his servant folk do the digging. Yes, he should have died working. If he had killed himself while doing it, he would at least have been doing his duty instead of gorging himself like a pig at some dinner or other." 50 "Patience," he says again. "Work hard for six years on end, plant, sow, dig the earth, without giving yourself rest ... Yes, nature love patience: and that is a law given by God Himself, Who glorified the meek." 51
But the eternal Russian question, "What is to be done?" remains unsolved if the advice falls upon lazy or unwilling ears. Gogol's answer is troubling: The peasants, he says, "need some stern and just man over them, somebody who would live among them for a long while and inspire them by the example of his own indefatigable activity ... Judging by myself [Khlobuyev is talking], I can see that a Russian cannot go on without a taskmaster. Otherwise, he will drowse off and stagnate." 52
Khlobuyev's family mirrors the carelessly spending officials of the first part of the novel,though here, they are aware that they are sinners. In other words,to speak in Dantean terms
these are the inhabitants of Purgatory, who see their sins and want to be rid of them. The conversations and self-accusa-tions of these landowners seem almost like Eighteenth-Century morality plays, like Fonvizin's "Minor ",for example, whose heavy didacticism weighs down the texture of his play .
The plot now resonates with echoes from the first volume: After his visit to the countryside, Chichikov moves to the city where his tour in quest of dead souls comes to an end unexpectedly in a legal entanglement and a hair-breadth escape from punishment.
For Chichikov has come to realize that neither dead souls nor real property are going go give him the peace of mind for which he longs. Khlobuyev's estate presents itself as a perfect occasion to acquire real property on which Chichikov makes a down-payment. The balance is to be paid at a later time. It is no surprise that his habits as a cheat will land him in debtors' prison for non-payment. Nevertheless, his encounter with Platonov's brother has left him with an intense longing for the "honest and simple life" -- we see that his journey has brought about a change in his understanding of the meaning of life.
The case of Platonov's older brother is interesting: the manor house already shows some of the qualities which, perhaps, later in the third volume would have represented heaven: "The manor house was completely concealed from view ... All these buildings were hidden among bushes. The nightingales sang loudly, making the thickets ring with their trilling. Involuntarily, the soul was invaded with a peaceful and agreeable feeling. Everything reminded one of those easy complications." The older Platonov's house is based on self service, simplicity and unpretentious living. Chichikov is offered kvas, 53 a drink he seems not to have tasted thus far on his journeys through Russia. "Chichikov poured himself a glass from the first decanter. It was like the mead he had once tasted in Poland; it bubbled like champagne and its gaseous effect communicated itself rapidly from mouth to nose. ...'This is nectar,' he said. He tried another glass, filling it up from the next decanter. It was even better." 54 Unhappily, the positive effect of the visit is spoiled by an incident, left unfinished in the extant manuscript.
Another landowner, a certain Lenitsin ( " lazy" ), has leased some of the common land between Chichikov's and Platonov's newly acquired estate. What happens with that quarrel remains unrevealed in the fragment.
The remaining chapter -- numbered V in available editions, though not numbered by Gogol himself brings the denouement of the novel. Chichikov is in town, visits a fair, and there is ready to buy himself material for a new coat, whose color is smoke and flame.
The suggestion as to Chichikov's infernal qualities have so far been well hidden. Here Gogol hints more openly: The smoke and the flame, the newly developing rumors that he deals in dead souls, the references to the Devil, even if only in such casual reactions as Chichikov's to a realization that his creditor Khlobuyev is at the fair, when he exclaims, "The Devil take it!" --all these are clues to his true identity. On the other hand, as the story develops, even Chichikov seems to be affected by the consequences of his wicked life: he is arrested for non-payment of debt, thrown into prison, and finally released through the intercession of another of the "good" characters, a certain Murazov, a contractor whom Kostanzhonglo introduced. The agent of all these changes is the Prince who, like a deus ex machina, explains what everyone is supposed to do, namely, his duty. Murazov also advises Chichikov to change his ways: "What a man you would have made if you had turned all that energy and patience of yours to good account and had some worthy subject," he exclaims. 56
We see again the Dantean principle that the falsely pursued path to happiness is the cause of sin and suffering, while the recognition of its falseness leads sinners out of Purgatory and onto the right road to Heaven. The third part of the novel remains a mystery -- how Chichikov would have made the transformation is difficult to say. On the final pages, the Prince makes an unfinished speech about duty and about finding one's own place for the benefit of the Motherland: "So each one of us must rise up against those lies. As a Russian bound to you by ties of common blood, I appeal to you now. I appeal to those of you who have any inkling of what nobility of thought signifies. I invite you to remember the duty that is each man's burden wherever he may be. I invite you to examine your conscience more closely as well as the obligations of your earthly occupation, because that is something we can all picture to ourselves, and we are hardly ..." 57
Here the manuscript breaks off. We can never discover how Gogol intended to finish his sentence, for the work ends in darkness and in mere hints as to how it was to proceed. Nevertheless, though what remains of the second volume is a fragment, it still indicates the direction Gogol was taking -- especially in the light of his reliance of Dante as his mentor. All his oeuvre points to his further development of the idea of the regeneration of man through a recognition and embrace of duty, as well as through finally understanding one's own place.
The ideas expressed in this second volume coincide with the ideas presented in the Selected Passages -- about the land question, the arguments over the liberation or non-liberation of the serfs, the issues of woman's place and the role of the family, the burning topic of the imitation of foreign ways as opposed to home-grown Russian wisdom: these are all reconsidered. Indeed, the fictional presentation of what Gogol considered to be the cardinal virtues is interestingly implemented throughsuch characters as Tentetnikov and Kostanzhonglo, who remain in many ways abstract principles rather than Gogol's usual sharply defined characters. They point towards a vision of a resurrected Russia, the ideal country, though the possibility of bringing into being the land of the risen Christ may have seemed to Gogol beyond the limits of the possible, since she had not yet shown herself as able to accept the grand vision of God presented to Dante in his Divine Comedy and imagined by Gogol himself when he allowed himself to hope. Indeed, it would seem to be hope that was driving him as he composed the sequel to Dead Souls -- perhaps it was the failure of hope that induced him to burn the volumes he had penned.
Despite any such wavering, the fragments surviving still show Gogol
as the tireless creator of memorable characters and situations. It is a
shame that the second volume is less well known than the first ... But
one could say that a similar fate has been allotted to Goethe's Faust,
where the second volume which describes Faust's journey -- or the final
section of Dante's Divine Comedy, for that matter -- remain known
only to specialists in literature instead of to the world of enlightened
readers to whose attention we have dedicated this book.
Footnotes to Chapter 9
1. N.V. Gogol': Poln. Sobr. Soch. t. 3. In English: N.V. Gogol: Dead Souls. ed. by George Gibian. The Reavey Translation, W.W. Norton, NY 1985. Quoted here as Dead Souls, Norton. op. cit.
2. L. Kent. op. cit. v. 2. p. 334.
3. The problem of "positive heroes" has been well illustrated with development in the s.c. "socialist realist" literature of the Soviet period. See A. Tertz: On Socialist Realism. op. cit. Dostoyevsky also recognized the imposisibility fo writing "positively" about "positive heroes"; His intended "positive hero" Myshkin was a "failure". V.V. Versaev: Gogol' v Zhizni. op. cit. pp. 384 passim
4. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 152
5. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 1
6. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 1
7. M.A. Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita. tr. M. Glenny. Harper & Row. NY 1967. Chapter 1: "Never Talk to Strangers"
8. Religious interpretations of the Dead Souls include the idea of the arrival of the "devil", Chichikov in "Russia". See: R. Maguire: Gogol from the Twentieth Century, op. cit. p. Introduction 28. passim
9. F.M. Dostoyevsky: The Brothers Karamazov, Norton, 1976. p. 601 passim. Book IX, Chapter IX: Ivan's Nightmare.
10. M.A. Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita. tr. M. Glenny. Harper& Row. NY 1967. Chapter 1: "Never Talk to Strangers"
11. James B. Woodward: Gogol's Dead Souls. Princeton. New Jersey, 1978.
12. M.A. Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita. tr. M. Glenny. Harper & Row. NY 1967. Chapter 1: "Never Talk to Strangers". See also: L. Tikos "Some Notes on the Significance of Gerbert Aurillac in Bulgakov's Master and Margarita". Canadian-American Slavic Studies. 15. No. 2-3. (181) p. 321-329.
13. James B. Woodward: Gogol's Dead Souls. Princeton. New Jersey, 1978.
14. See Gogol's letters on the "Women" question in the "Selected Passages", especially the letters II. Woman in the World, and XXI What the Wife of a Provincial Governor Is.
15. Again -- compare Gogol's notes aobut the "happy married life" from the Selected Passages. op. cit. p. 158. XXIV. What a Wife Can Do for her Husband in Simple Domestic Matters, as Things are Now in Russia. Here Gogol emphasizes practicality, diligence and "knowing one's place" (svoe mesto) in the division of labor within the family. The Manilov family clearly represents the Dantean principle of turning a virtue into vice by deliberately misguided actions.
16. See the same in L. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina the contrast between Stepan Oblonski, the easy going, philandering fool, bankrupt at the end of the novel and his "coutnerpart" Levin, who is presented as both a devoted pater familias, and a financially successful landowner.
17. N.V. Gogol: Four Letters About the Dead Souls, see in Zeldin, op. cit. p. 96 passim, also: Dead Souls, Norton, p. 411.
18. Emu more po kolenu
19. Marc Slonim: Russian Theater. op. cit. p. 78 passim. Ostrovskij portrayed the "samodur" type, especially in his play The Storm (Groza).
20. Dead Souls. Norton. op. cit. 76.
21. Dead Souls. Norton. op. cit. p. 71.
22. Dead Souls. Norton. op. cit. p. 109. passim.
23. The entire argument about Chichikov's "marriage, children and domesticity" shows how far Gogol moved away from his youthful ideal, the "wedding" as the solution for the searching male's problems. Chichikov's thoughts about marriage are rather melancholic -- and the "love intrigue" with the "governor's dauther" is really a farce and not a "real" love story.
24. Dead Souls. Norton. op. cit. p. 94.
25. The question of "digressions" was already raised during Gogol's life time, and it has been discussed frequently in literary crticism. See: Laszlo Diienes: Are there any Digressons in Pushkin's Evgenij Onegin and Gogol's Dead Souls? A REview of the Critical Literature with Commentary. International Area Studies Program, University of Massachusetts. Amherst. 1981. Occasional Papers Series No. 7.
26. See in the Selected Passages. op. cit. X. On the Lyricism of Our Poets. p. 48 passim.
27. See in the Selected Passages. op. cit. X. On the Lyricism of Our Poets. p. 50 passim.
28. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 152.
29. F.M. Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment. Norton. 1964. p. 456.
30. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 242.
31. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 242.
32. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 268.
33. The logic of the tinsmith Schiller from "The Nevskij Prospekt" is reversed here!
34. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 270. The "flying troika" image appears first in the "Diary of a Madman" at the end of the story, as the final desire of Popryshchin to escape his tormentors in "Spain", i.e. the insane asylum.
35. This corresponds precisely to the "Dantean" structure: the second part was going to be he Purpatory, and the projected third part: Paradise. In Gogol's plans it probably would ahve meant to devote the second part to the gradual regeneration of Russia through the example of some enlightened, and already "saved" characters (saved by "reason", and "love of work" -- i.e. practical qualities): and the third part might have shown Russia "in spe", the "ideal" as reality. Obviously, this would have been quite an udnertaking and apparently Gogol was not able to complete it.
36. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 273.
37. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 275.
38. It seems that Tentetnikov has certain parallels to Manilov from the first part of the novel as the "idealist" but ineffective dreamer. Only their "position" in the structure of the novel is different. While Manilov could be Dante's "virtuous pagan", who has not see the "light" yet in his dreamy udnerworld, Tentetnikov has already "seen the light" -- in the form of his first tutor -- but failed to follow up on his insights, even though he is only partly blame for this, having succumbed to the "negative" influences of his new tutor.
39. There seems to be a lot of "autobiography" in these descriptions: Gogol's grand designs of his youth, whether the projected five volumes "History of the Ukraine" or other similar "unfinished" projects, as well as other suggestions in the Selected Passages.
40. Again, perhaps an autobiographical reference: Gogol as a young man, looking for some "useful" occupation in the capital and finding a tedious job in a government office as a clerk.
41. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 285.
42. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 286.
43. The etymology of the name seems to indicate the word Veter (wind), in which Gogol turns the V into a B. The ending of the word ishche is the standard suffix with the implication of something tremendously big, massive, huge etc. Thus, the whole implication seems to be -- a windbag of colossal proportions. Indeed, the name fits the "general" well -- he is a pompous, self-inflated individual, who gets upset quickly over supposed insults and slighting of his "authority."
44. As mentioned before, there seems to be a great deal of "autobiography" in these decirptoins: Gogol's grand designs of his youth whether the projected five volumes "History of the Ukraine" or other similar unfinished projects, including suggestoins in the Selected Passages.
45. This matches Gogol's recommendation from the Selected Passages, where he is talking about the need to travel through Russia. (Letter XX) One of the "useful" things that a traveler could do: to reconcile warring parties!
46. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 308.
47. This "uncle" story, of course, is the new "cock and bull" story of Chichikov, in order to get his "dead souls". In other words, the new sales pitch!
48. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 326.
49. Just as in Turgenev's novel Smoke, the only positive hero is a Bulgarian.
50. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 335.
51. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 356. This advice resemble the one given by Gogol to a provincial lady: how to set up a househould budget, and how to hold onto it "at least for a year". In letter XXIV What a Wife Can do...for her Husband. Selected Passages, op. cit. p. 159.
52. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 357. Again, the passage is similar to Letter XXV Rural Justice and Punishment. p. 164. of the Selected Passages, where Gogol advises the landowners to take firm leadership in directing their estates.
53. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 367.
54. A refreshing drink, made form fermented black bread.
56. Compare the "red jacket" of the devil in the "Fair at Sorocints".
57. Dead Souls, Norton, op. cit. p. 408.
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Epilogue, Bibliography
The book CD "Gogol and Russian Literature" is built around Gogol's Art: a Search for Identity by Laszlo Tikos, the best book ever written about Russia's most enigmatic and intriguing author. Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852) created a new direction in Russian letters, which was further developed in the 19th century by writers like Dostoyevsky and Rozanov, and in the 20th century by Bely, Bulgakov and Sinyavsky. In addition to Gogol's Art, this CD includes the full text of Dead Souls, Tara Bulba, The Inspector General, and St. John's Eve by Gogol, plus great books by Dostoeyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pushkin, Turgenev, Andreyev, Gorky, Kuprin, and Lermontov, plus works on Russian history, plus two "Country Studies" -- Russia and Belarus (birthplace of Gogol) -- which were originally published as printed books by the Library of Congress between 1987 and 1995. For details, see our online store http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/russian.html
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