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Dead Souls

Nikolai Gogol

Date of publication: 1842

Referred to by its author as an "epic poem in prose", and within the book as a "novel in verse", Dead Souls is loosely based on the plot suggested to Gogol by Pushkin. Despite having supposedly completed the trilogy's second part, Gogol destroyed it shortly before his death at the urging of a religious fanatic. Although the novel ends in mid-sentence (like Sterne's Sentimental Journey), it is usually regarded as complete in the extant form.

Plot Overview

The story follows the exploits of Chichikov, a young gentleman of middling social class and position. Chichikov arrives in a small town and quickly tries to make a good name for himself by impressing the many petty officials of the town. Despite his limited funds, he spends extravagantly on the premise that a great show of wealth and power at the start will gain him the connections he needs to live easily in the future. He also hopes to befriend the town so that he can more easily carry out his bizarre and mysterious plan to acquire "dead souls."

(From Wikipedia, description text under GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL))

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