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Dead Souls

Dead Souls

Written by Nikolai Gogol

Narrated by Arthur Morey


Dead Souls

Written by Nikolai Gogol

Narrated by Arthur Morey

ratings:
4/5 (42 ratings)
Length:
15 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Mar 25, 2011
ISBN:
9781452671222
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

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Also available as bookBook

Description

Chichikov, a mysterious stranger, arrives in a provincial town and visits a succession of landowners to make each a strange offer. He proposes to buy the names of dead serfs still registered on the census, saving their owners from paying tax on them, and to use these "souls" as collateral to reinvent himself as a gentleman. In this ebullient masterpiece, Nikolai Gogol created a grotesque gallery of human types, from the bear-like Sobakevich to the insubstantial fool Manilov, and, above all, the devilish con man Chichikov. Dead Souls, Russia's first major novel, is one of the most unusual works of nineteenth-century fiction and a devastating satire on social hypocrisy.



This version of Dead Souls is the translation by C. J. Hogarth.
Publisher:
Released:
Mar 25, 2011
ISBN:
9781452671222
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809–1852) was one of nineteenth-century Russia’s greatest writers and a profound influence on Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mikhail Bulgakov, Vladimir Nabokov, and countless other authors. His best-known works include the novel Dead Souls (1842) and the stories “The Overcoat,” “The Nose,” and “Memoirs of a Madman.” In 1852, he burned most of his manuscripts, including the second part of Dead Souls. He died nine days later.  

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What people think about Dead Souls

3.8
42 ratings / 47 Reviews
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  • (4/5)
    Dead Souls was published in 1842 and is a classic work, considered a mix of realism and symbolism. It is a tale of a man set on buying dead serfs. Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov travels around and the reader is introduced to a variety of people of Russia. I got that it was a satire and that there were layers of meaning here. The serfs were counted as "souls" but on another level, the souls refer to the dead souls of Gogol's characters. I enjoyed it and it is deserving of another read. It really is unfinished but you don't really notice that.
  • (5/5)
    Brilliant satire that resonates not just in 19th Cent. Russia but just as well today.
  • (4/5)
    Satirical and funny and at times very profound.
  • (4/5)
    While I didn’t start off loving Deal Souls by Nikolai Gogol I did find this a very well done satire that painted an interesting picture of Russian life in early 19th century. His comments on the corruption of the government, the rigidness of society, the exaggerated sense of self-importance that the middle class had were well illustrated and the story itself was presented from an interesting perspective. Based on the theory that workers equalled wealth, landowner’s taxes were established by the number of serfs under their individual control. Enter our main character, con-man, Chichikov, who scours the countryside for dead souls to use as collateral. His schemes have him dreaming of prosperity founded on the ownership of non-existent serfs. In actuality this plot line would not be unusual today given the morals and climate that big business often operates in.As I went deeper into the book, I found myself start to enjoy the story and even having some sympathy for the scoundrel, Chichikov and his scheme. So Dead Souls with it’s poke at both bureaucratic and inept government and the pompous gentry grew on me and I found myself looking forward to my next installment. I understand that Gogol destroyed part of this book when he turned to religion and indeed there are sections missing and the novel ends abruptly in mid-sentence leaving the reader uncertain as to what the final outcome will be. The author uses humor and a very imaginative story to make his points and Dead Souls turned out not to be as dry a tome as I feared.
  • (5/5)
    No dead book here. Laughable sketches of officials, landowners, serfs as a con job plays out. Everyone is on the take, but our hero had bigger plans.

    I see why Gogol is compared to Twain.

    BTW, why the dreary cover?
  • (3/5)
    Gelezen toen ik 17 was, volop in mijn "Russische periode"; was er helemaal weg van.
  • (1/5)
    The copy I read was from Project Guttenberg and ended in mid sentence. Even without the sudden ending it should be noted that the story was anticlimactic. Most of the book is spent gathering dead souls only to have the act become pointless in the end. If other copies have a more satisfying, i.e. complete, ending I could possibly recommend this book.
  • (5/5)
    The first two-thirds are better than the last third. Thoroughly enjoyed this book, though. What a master of depicting characters!
  • (5/5)
    This is absolutely brilliant humor. Gogol is better imo than even Cervantes. I have read all of Gogol's short stories and this surpass them all. Absolute hilarity at every turn and almost everyone gets made fun of. This is absolutely on my read again list. I read the Guerney translation. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
  • (3/5)
    Gelezen toen ik 17 was, volop in mijn "Russische periode"; was er helemaal weg van.
  • (4/5)
    I very much enjoyed this book. Gogol made me laugh out loud several times, and smile and chuckle on quite a few more occasions. His writing clearly demonstrates how intelligent and observant he was, along with his sharp wit. Gogol's style is very much his own, and I am eager to read more of his work.For some reason though, I had a very hard time getting sucked into this, even though I enjoyed it and never once thought anything truly negative about it. Hence my essentially leaving it aside for several months somewhat past the middle, before finally picking it back up and reading the last couple hundred pages. I really couldn't say why. I didn't find the pacing too slow, or really any fault with it. It just didn't grab me.That said, I would still highly recommend it to those who love a good classic. Even though it didn't grab me, it was surely an enjoyable read.
  • (5/5)
    The most idiosyncratic omniscient narrator in literature.
  • (4/5)
    Gogol's masterpiece of 19th century Russian literature is actually only the first part of a planned three part epic "poem" of the life of Chichikov -- a charming and crafty mid-level bureaucrat with a eye to raise himself up in Russian society. We meet Chichikov as the rest of a small village meets him: a substantial looking stranger who quickly charms us by doing and saying exactly what we would want him to do or say. As we spend more time with our hero, we begin to travel out to property owners in the area where Chichikov offers to purchase "dead souls" -- that is, peasants on the property owners rolls who have died, but not yet been reported as dead to the authorities. This all seems very mysterious to both the reader and a portion of the property owners, but we still can't help liking that Chichikov. Along the way, Gogol hilariously satirizes Russian society, with each visit forming almost a stand-alone story of a different type of provincial Russian. As you might expect, it is possible to be *too* charming, and this weird plan eventually backfires and sets Chichikov and his two servants back out on the road. After the first part of his masterwork was published, Gogol set to work on the second part (wherein our hero is taught a lesson) and looked forward to the third (a Christian redemption), but struggled with his writing. He burnt an early version of the manuscript, wrote another one, and then fell in with a priest who ordered him to burn the sinful pages. Gogol did and died soon after as a result of extreme fasting. The editor of this volume puts together a partial second and third part of the work from earlier drafts and notes -- they are rough, but do give you an idea of the arc of the story.While Gogol came to a tragic end, Chichikov can live happily ever after (pre-downfall and pre-redemption), stuck at the end of part 1 of the masterpiece, riding off into the sunset with his lists of dead souls.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting without being captivating. Coming to the novel, I had expectations of satire and humor based on reading his short stories, but I had no idea how the book/story would take shape. It turns out that my expectations were met, as it was a very humorous and satirical volume with little in the way of story. Gogol's descriptions of the hypocrisy of the Russian nobility and life in provincial Russia are masterful. His observation of the reality beneath the surface was penetrating and scathing, and his manner of expressing it beautiful and poetic. That said, it got to be too much for me at times, and there wasn't enough plot to keep me really excited about picking the book up. I think it would have worked better as a short story, or perhaps in a larger context (for example, if he had completed the planned trilogy of which this book made up the first "Inferno" installment).
  • (4/5)
    This is a funny book. Bureaucratic foibles permit the collecting of the identities of the no-longer-living for profit.
  • (4/5)
    I was so much fun! Maybe it was not the best translation, but it still managed to put across the author's style.
    I felt like Chichikov was the Russian Sutpen, but more confident and calmed.
    Normally stories begin telling the hero's life, but this one ended with it.
    Schade dass the author burnt the second part.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book, especially the end, for some reason. This book creates an inimitable atmosphere.
  • (3/5)
    Gigol's work is essentially divided into two parts, and contains some of the best and worst aspects of 19th century Russian literature.The first section describes the exploits of Chichikov, a middle class Russian who gentleman arrives in a small town and attempts to purchase "dead souls" from local landowners as part of a scheme to live easily in the future. Part one is well written, interesting, and humorous as Gigol describes stereotypical landowners and officials with great style. Were the book to end here, I would have rated it very highly. Unfortunately, the section section, while continuing the story of Chichikov's adventures in a second town, is rambling, and mired in excessive detail and digression. One gets the impression that Gigol lost his direction and continued writing without a clear purpose.
  • (5/5)
    My reading history divides neatly along a pre-Gogol/post-Gogol line; this was the book that did it for me.
  • (4/5)
    A very enjoyable read. I con man travels throughout Russia, meeting along the way fawning officials, an idealist egalitarian, an extreme economic liberal and your average everyday hollow shell whose sole existence is to impress others. So in other words, very much a story that fits right at home with today's society. Not much has changed in almost 200 years.
  • (4/5)
    I very much enjoyed this book. Gogol made me laugh out loud several times, and smile and chuckle on quite a few more occasions. His writing clearly demonstrates how intelligent and observant he was, along with his sharp wit. Gogol's style is very much his own, and I am eager to read more of his work.For some reason though, I had a very hard time getting sucked into this, even though I enjoyed it and never once thought anything truly negative about it. Hence my essentially leaving it aside for several months somewhat past the middle, before finally picking it back up and reading the last couple hundred pages. I really couldn't say why. I didn't find the pacing too slow, or really any fault with it. It just didn't grab me.That said, I would still highly recommend it to those who love a good classic. Even though it didn't grab me, it was surely an enjoyable read.
  • (2/5)
    Just like Tolstoy, Gogol seems to revel in torturing the reader with agrarian strategies, but the book is punctuated with so many wicked asides and hilarious vignettes - the drafts cheat was my favourite - that I ploughed ahead and finally managed to finish it. Unlike Gogol.
  • (3/5)
    Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov, a former civil servant, having narrowly escaped a corruption charge heads out for the country with a new scheme to get rich quick. Chichikov, an amusing and often confused schemer, buys deceased serfs' names from landholders' poll tax lists hoping to mortgage them for profit. He arrives in a fine coach with his servants in the “provincial town of N.” At first he makes a great impression, but then as he goes to carry out his scheme, the provincial landowners as not as gullible as he’d hoped, and when word gets around about what he’s up to he must beat a hasty retreat. The humor in the meandering tale come in the interactions of Gogol’s characters. Chichikov himself, as Pevear says in the introduction is the embodiment of “Poshuost [POSHlust] is a well-rounded untranslatable whole made up of banality, vulgarity, and sham.” xxi
  • (3/5)
    I’ve read several novels by Russian authors, including Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Grossman, so I am familiar with the genre and have even been comfortable with the style and culture of the 19th century writers. While I was moderately entertained by parts of this work, I found it somewhat slower and more difficult to engage than some of the others I’ve read. Most disturbing, however, is the fact that in several places, large chunks of the original manuscript have been lost. To be reading along and suddenly come to a gap with the statement, “several pages of the original manuscript were lost”. This, along with an ending that was very much unresolved left me very unsatisfied. The story follows the adventures of a ne’er-do-well wanderer, Chichikov, who embarks on the project of acquiring title to deceased serfs for the purpose of pulling off his latest fraud. There are several interesting and comedic interactions between Chichikov and various estate owners. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the cons outweigh the pros in,this instance and I cannot recommend it. If you are looking for a 19th century Russian novel, read Crime and Punishment instead.
  • (2/5)
    Gogol has some really important points to say but I found myself getting disinterested in it in parts despite it's potential to be a radical text.
  • (3/5)
    This is a book to appreciate with a historical lens in front of the brain. There are tons of comedy cliches, and the plot drifts into weird ventures, often times committing that old niggle of "showing vs. telling." But, it's entertaining and definitely an interesting insight into Russian society and human nature itself. It's good enough to read and inspires enough curiosity to read the incomplete second volume which runs 150 or so pages.
  • (3/5)
    It took me a while to chug through this one, but it definitely was worth a try. Some of the characters are hilariously ridiculous, which is what I think the highlight of the story is. I was kind of hoping for a slightly more exciting reason behind the collection of dead souls, but I did like the story overall.
  • (5/5)
    In my effort to read more classics, Dead Souls was the perfect entry point back into the works of the Russian greats. Although I haven’t compared it to older translations, I found this one by Rayfield to be terrific. The language is easy to understand, but also manages to capture the poetics of prose wonderfully. Right off the bat, I was completely enchanted by the tone of the story as we follow our protagonist, Chichikov, around town as he goes about meeting with different landowners in a seemingly bizarre quest to buy their dead serfs, serfs whose deaths hadn’t yet been recorded by the tax authorities. Each encounter with these characters beats the previous encounter in terms of the surreal and absurd. We see how these landowners and government officials are silly, selfish, greedy, and corrupt, reflecting a society that’s become morally vapid. Gogol strings us along for a while before we find out the purpose of the dead souls, but instead of becoming impatient, I was happy to be strung along in a satire that has whimsy, a charming wink-wink tone, but also earnest exhortations to really examine the perilous path towards which society was headed.

    Dead Souls in an unfinished manuscript and I was afraid that I’d be dissatisfied with the lack of true resolution at the end. Yet, even when the manuscript ends in the middle of a sentence, it luckily worked well. There’s a gathering in which a prince begins to issue a call to reform the nation, a kind of “call to arms.” The nation faces two choices (as does Chichikov, who gets punished and keeps getting second chances): to keep perpetuating the moral decay or turn over a new leaf. It seemed a very cinematic ending even though we don’t see which choice the nation (and Chichikov) opted for.
  • (5/5)
    I am sorry I had not read Gogol before now! His writing is a blend of Dostoevsky and Dickens. Absolutely hysterical characters manage to highlight a satiric view of Russian country life in the late 1800s. The protagonist, Chichikov, manages to persuade a variety of landowners to sell him the names of "dead souls" or workers who have died. Certainly Gogol was attempting to make a statement about the state of his nation and it is done with such satiric wit and wonderful prose! I think, perhaps, the best way to sum up this great piece of literature is by using a quote from one of the characters, "You must love us black, anyone can love us white." No person is blameless in this life!
  • (4/5)
    A rollicking, farcical road tale set in Russia in the first half of the 19th Century. Follows Chichikov, a petty bourgeois con man… a man who is “not too fat, and not too thin” in the words of the author, on a trip around the country to buy up “dead souls,” which are peasants who have died but are still counted as living until the next census happens. Chichikov hopes to make his fortune by charming lots of landowners into giving them away for nothing, and then mortaging them under new regulations that allow Russian landowners to mortage their estates to the treasury at roubles-to-the-soul. Gogol uses the misadventures of our antihero to paint a humorous and loving picture of Russian life in the first half of the 1800s. Kind of reminds me of Tristram Shandy.