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Dead Souls

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  58,771 ratings  ·  2,246 reviews
Dead Souls is eloquent on some occasions, lyrical on others, and pious and reverent elsewhere. Nicolai Gogol was a master of the spoof. The American students of today are not the only readers who have been confused by him. Russian literary history records more divergent interpretations of Gogol than perhaps of any other classic.

In a new translation of the comic classic of
Paperback, 464 pages
Published July 29th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published 1842)
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Brent Ranalli I thought the same thing--tantalizing and would be a good joke. But no, what is included and omitted in Part 2 appears to be simply a reflection of…moreI thought the same thing--tantalizing and would be a good joke. But no, what is included and omitted in Part 2 appears to be simply a reflection of what could be reconstructed from the author's papers.(less)

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Jim Fonseca
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian-authors
The book goes way back to 1842, before Russian serfs were emancipated in 1861. It’s considered a picaresque novel; Don Quixote-ish – a journey with a lot of satire and absurd situations with a rascal as a main character, a man who always has a get-rich-quick scheme going. He’s kind of happy-go-lucky - a drinker, gambler, liar. There are more than 2,000 reviews on GR so I’ll be brief.


In this story the main character is buying “dead souls” – papers from other property owners whose serfs died
Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-russians
”What was the riddle, indeed, what was the riddle of the dead souls? There was no logic whatsoever in dead souls. Why buy dead souls? Where would such a fool be found? What worn-out money would one pay for them? To what end, to what business, could these dead souls be tacked? And why was the governor’s daughter mixed up in it? If he wanted to carry her off, why buy dead souls for that? And if he was buying dead souls, why carry off the governor’s daughter? Did he want to make her a gift of these ...more
2.0 stars. As much as I hate to say this about a book that is both a classic of Russian literature and considered one of the best satires ever written, THIS BOOK BORED ME TO DEATH!!! Okay, not quite "coffin ready" dead, but certainly bored to the point of suffering intermittent bouts of narcolepsy. I can certainly say without hyperbole that this is not a book I would recommend as an “enjoyable” experience, no matter how much Vodka you have standing by.

My assessment of the book arises DESPITE the
Dead Souls Reading Diary

January 4th, 2019

I've just reached page 249 where finally the hero, to the waving of the cap of the houseman, who was standing there in the same fustian frock-coat, and in the presence of the inn-servants and someone else’s lackeys and coachmen, who had gathered to gape at the departure of someone else’s master, and amid all the other circumstances that accompany a departure, took his seat in the vehicle, and the britska, which was of the sort in which bachelors ride, and
Luís C.
DEAD SOULS by Nikolai Gogol

Every writer carries with him an essential book, the work in which he has to "tell everything". From the day he saw it, when he began to realize it, to think of himself, his vision of the world and the conception of his own life revolve around this pole; the work becomes the symbol of man, his message.
It's about a crook, Pavel Ivanovich Tchitchikov. The latter has an extraordinary idea to make a fortune: he will redeem dead souls.
In ancient Russia the peasants (dead
Jon Nakapalau
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, classics
Another 'classic bucket list' book. As he buys dead souls in an attempt to help increase his social standing Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov represents the all too common association that is made between power, ethics and the law. The dead on the list are treated (by the law) better than they ever were when they were living. Should be required reading to get an MBA.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Myórtvyjye dúshi = Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol (1809 - 1852)
Dead Souls (Russian: Мёртвые души, Myórtvyjye dúshi) is a novel by Nikolai Gogol, first published in 1842, and widely regarded as an exemplar of 19th-century Russian literature. The purpose of the novel was to demonstrate the flaws and faults of the Russian mentality and character. Gogol portrayed those defects through Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov (Russian: Павел Иванович Чичиков) and the people whom he encounters in his endeavours. These
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
An absurd and brilliant satire. To think I avoided reading this novel for years because I thought it was going to be depressing. Ha! Dead Souls reminded me in many ways of the Odyssey + Don Quixote written by Mark Twain in a Russian prose poem. Gogol captures the absurdity of the mid-19th century Russia. Included in Gogol's satire/farce is an absurd and brilliant look at the corruption of the government, the stratification of society, the pretentiousness of the Russian middle-class, etc. Anyway, ...more
Aug 18, 2011 added it
Recommends it for: For those who've enjoyed Gogol's short stories
What is this book?

I can't remember any more if Gogol described it as a Poem or an Epic, maybe it doesn't matter what he called it since he had great chunks of the manuscript fed into the fire on the advice of his religious advisor.

So we are left with part one, some bits of part two and an outline of the three part whole of the work, the rest having gone up in smoke.

What there is of the first part is generally read as a comedy. It is funny, but bear in mind that the first part is about a young
Vanja Antonijevic
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Gogol's "Dead Souls" is a true masterpiece. It is the only Russian novel that I have read that brings me as much deep satisfaction as Dostoevsky’s great novels. The novel is satirical, intellectual, political, and also entertaining.

The intriguing plot is sketched as follows:

A somewhat mysterious middle class man, named Chichikov, comes to a town and attempts to build prestige by impressing minor officials of the place. The man spends beyond his means in order to impress, and tries to befriend
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
"The longer and more carefully we look at a funny story, the sadder it becomes."
— Nikolai Gogol

Before saying anything else, I think I must begin with my association with this novel. It was that period of my age, years and years ago when I had read only a few books, most of them incomplete, yet I used to impress my friends with that precocious intelligence I gathered from those books devoured by me in such scanty doses.
And what about my knowledge of Russian literature then?... That was
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What did you think, Goodreads politely asks me.

Well, dear Goodreads, it has been a while since I read Dead Souls, and I think I remember the melancholy humour best, but as for what I THINK, this is what keeps haunting my mind:

There are so many things going on in the world right now that are more bizarre than wandering around buying dead serfs' names from their owners in order to make a profit...

Sometimes I think of Dead Souls when I read the news and wonder whether our world of 2019, with all
Maru Kun
The hero of Dead Souls, Chichikov, these days would be Fabulous Chichikov.

Sitting at his 40th floor, 200 West Street dealing desk Fabulous Chichikov’s eye would travel from screen to screen searching out deals in NINJA loans, distressed debt and CDOs squared. Debits and credits would flit in and out of his trading book as ephemeral as any Dead Soul.

Instead of a “troika suitable for bachelors”, Fabulous Chichikov would travel by Uber limousine. He would move from Manhattan steakhouse to members
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it

In Dead Souls , a novel about Russia and what it means to be Russian we follow the adventures of Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov who is probably literature's most endearingly dishonest character. After several attempts to grow rich and live a life of comfort Chichikov comes up with a scheme of buying non-existent peasants in order to get a state loan on them and, thus, making easy money out of nothing. The non-existent peasants are the title’s Dead Souls . They are those serfs who have already
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russians who own gold chains
Shelves: 2016
Here's a Russian douchebag.

This is called poshlust, an untranslatable word referring to a kind of banal tackiness special to Russia. Here's another Russian douchebag:

The stereotype goes all the way back to 1842 and Gogol's great antihero dandy grifter Chichikov, with his Navarino smoke-and-flame silk frock coat and his violet-scented snuffbox, and according to Nabokov poshlust is the great theme of this book, a definition of an essential theme of Russian character.


That's not what Gogol
5 stars for the B.G. Guerney translation (revised version), Yale UP.
I also read Part II in Donald Rayfield's translation (NYRB Classics / Alma Classics)

'Exuberant', 'panoramic' and 'state of the nation' are attributes that come up time and again among my favourite novels, so it's hardly surprising I liked this. Dead Souls, in the Guerney translation, is also one of the funniest 19th century novels I've read. Diary of a Nobody was the funniest; I wasn't as keen on Three Men in a Boat as some
The weather was hot and humid and conducive for only one thing, sleeping. I had finished Dostoevksy’s The House of the Dead and was looking forward to relaxing and thinking about how to write a review for that book. However, the pull towards another Russian, a Russian that D admired and a book and its characters that D referred to consistently in his book was just too much of a temptation to me. I had to read the book and understand why D, one of my favourite authors, felt so moved and inspired ...more
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read only fifty pages of Gogol in Russian, enough to know how hilarious he is, and to regret his conversion and attempt to destroy this great book.
"Sobakavich" alone rewards the reader with the Russian patronymic, "Son of" applied to "Sobaka," a bitch. Yet Sobakavich is the most genial of men, who refuses to sell even those of his employ who have died. His sentimental valuing of the mere memory of his dead worker is a triumph over materialism. Lovely stuff. Viva Gogol! Sobakievich is
Richard Derus
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Dead Souls is eloquent on some occasions, lyrical on others, and pious and reverent elsewhere. Nikolai Gogol was a master of the spoof. The American students of today are not the only readers who have been confused by him. Russian literary history records more divergent interpretations of Gogol than perhaps of any other classic.

In a new translation of the comic classic of Russian literature, Chichikov, an enigmatic stranger and schemer, buys deceased serfs'
3 and a half stars, maybe it'll be rounded up, I have to think about it.

“Dead Souls” has a complicated reputation as a very important classic, but also as a potentially frustrating unfinished work. A certain understanding of the context in which Gogol wrote it is crucial to grasp the dark humour of the plot – not to mention the commentary Gogol was making on his society.

Chichikov is, for all intents and purposes, a con-man: as he lives in a society ruled by corrupt officials, he doesn’t really
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: russian
An entertaining satire published in 1842 but with flippant style that seems much more modern. Bureaucratic inept government and pompous neurotic gentry get scathing treatment. For example after a huge dinner at a noble’s estate, “…the master of the house had settled himself into his…armchair that would have held four, he dropped asleep. His corpulent person was transformed into a blacksmith’s bellows; from his open mouth and from his nose he began to emit sounds as are not found in even the ...more
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Almost, one and a three quarters of a century ago, Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol-Yanovsky or simply, Gogol, himself lend words to the cries of dissent against the likes of him,

“Don’t we ourselves know that there’s much in life that’s contemptible and stupid? As it is, we often have occasion to see things that are far from comforting. Better that you show us what’s beautiful and distracting. Better that we should forget ourselves!”

That very arrogance and contempt has rocketed far beyond, eulogizing
Inderjit Sanghera
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
All stories, even those painted with the broadest strokes of realism are fairy tales. Some, however, are more fantastical than others and none more so than the phantasmagoria of Gogol’s fiction; characters with pumpkin shaped heads and preposterous dialogues, all of this is part of the magic of Gogol’s fiction, of his unique, surreal style. Gogol should not be read to gain an insight of human psychology; his weird and wonderful cast of characters are cardboard cut-outs, unintentional caricatures ...more
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bitchin
For my review of Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet I asked you to imagine that someone has given you a beautiful old watch, a gift with a catch, which is that it unfortunately does not work, is not, somehow, whole. Would you, in this situation, feel aggrieved, because the watch is not all that it could have been? Or are you happy to have it as it is, opining that you have gained something, rather than lost out, because you cannot lose something that never was [the watch had never and could ...more
Roy Lotz
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are, of course, many faces in the world over the finish of which nature has taken no great pains

For a book with such a gloomy title, this is quite a fun read. Gogol took the genre of the picaresque novel—born in Spain, and widely popular in England—and applied it to the Russia of the early 1800s. The result is a brilliant satire of his place and time. Our hero, Chichikov, rides around provincial Russia trying to buy up the deeds for dead peasants. This is a get-rich-quick scheme based on
Parthiban Sekar
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:25)


This is not a new story which Gogol tries to say through his not good looking, but not uncomely in appearance either, not overly fat, not overly thin Hero Chichikov whose desire takes him in pursuit of buying dead souls from landowners affected by sickness, famine, and other misfortunes which may befall any man. But, the same old story being told time and again, only in
Steven Godin
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Way ahead of its time, Dead Souls turned out to be everything I'd hoped, but still caught me a little by surprise as to just how funny it actually turned out to be. Blending realism and the picaresque, I read this when I went through a bit of an obsession for Russian literature. One could even argue Russian literature is the best literature, at least the older stuff anyway. The anti-hero Chichikov was a most memorable character, who simply travels around the Russian countryside buying up the ...more

As precedent#1 goes around shouting "I see dead people", it seems a great time to re-engage with this.

This is an unfinished novel, however do not let that put you off, nosiree! This visit is via Librivox/youtube

Wiki description: Dead Souls (Russian: Мёртвые души, Myórtvyjye dúshi) is a novel by Nikolai Gogol, first published in 1842, and widely regarded as an exemplar of 19th-century Russian literature. The purpose of the novel was to demonstrate the flaws and faults of the Russian mentality and
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
We can thank our lucky stars for writer's block, as we'd likely have set fire to the Dead Souls manuscript ourselves if Nikolai Gogol hadn't. Hadhe, overcome with religious fervor, forged ahead with his plan and complete this three-parter, separated into volumes each of crime, punishment, and redemption, and not starve himself to death,we might've had on our hands a literary misfire it seemed like he, previously so promising, wanted to unleash upon us expectant and unsuspecting masses.Fortunate ...more
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read 'Dead Souls' more than a decade ago. This book is one of the brightest stars in the firmament of World Literature. Nothing I write here will ever do justice to this sublime work and its creator the inimitable Gogol.
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Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (Николай Васильевич Гоголь) was born in the Ukrainian Cossack village of Sorochyntsi, in Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire, present-day Ukraine. His mother was a descendant of Polish nobility. His father Vasily Gogol-Yanovsky, a descendant of Ukrainian Cossacks, belonged to the petty gentry, wrote poetry in Russian and Ukrainian, and was an amateur ...more
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