GOGOL by V. V. Gippius


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Not nearly as entertaining or stylistically nimble as Nabokov's excellent book on Gogol, Gippius' 1924 study is still, however, considered the classic in the field (despite the author's having to revise it under Stalin). From Gogol's first, Pushkin-esque Hanz KÃœchelgarten (a work displaying ""stupendous inepitude and bad taste""), to his last major earthly act--burning the second part of Dead Souls in manuscript--Gogol's life was one of gigantic false bottoms; whether as historian, pedagogue, aesthetician, moralist, or great comic Naturalist, the Gogol we find in Gippius is one of discontent with the instability of his subjects. Quite biographical, the Gippius study runs meticulous historical cross-wires to other Russian and European literary and folkloric traditions; Gogol is never left as an aberration in a vacuum--the book's best achievement. The actual lit-crit is a bit list-y, though (a catalogue of the ""fervors"" in Dead Souls, for instance). As a source-book for a Gogol-in-full-context, the Gippius is a scholarly necessity; for the general reader, less imperative.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1981
Publisher: Ardis