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Nikolai Gogol
Sorochintsi 20 March 1809 - Moscow 21 Feb. 1852 • Russian prose writer

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Nikolay Gogol was born in Sorochintsi, Ukraine, and grew up on his parent's country estate. His real surname was Ianovskii, but the writer's grandfather had taken the name 'Gogol' to claim a nobel Cossack ancestry. Gogol's father was an educated and gifted man, who wrote plays, poems, and sketches in Ukrainian. Gogol started write while in high school. He attended Poltava boarding school (1819-21) and Nezhin high school (1821-28). In 1829 he settled in St. Petersburg, with a certificate attesting his right to "the rank of the 14th class". Gogol worked at minor governmental jobs and wrote occasionally for periodicals. His early narrative poem, "Hans Küchelgarten" (1829), turned out to be a disaster. Between the years 1831 and 1834 he taught history at the Patriotic Institute and worked as a private tutor.

In 1831 Gogol met Aleksandr Pushkin who greatly influenced his choice of literarary material, especially his "Dikinka Tales", which were based on Ukrainian folklore. Their friendship lasted until the great poet's death. After failure as an assistant lecturer of world history at the University of St. Petersburg (1834-35),
Gogol became a full-time writer. Under the title Mirgorod (1835) Gogol published a new collection of stories, beginning with "Old-World Landowners", which described the decay of the old way of life. The book also included the famous historical tale "Taras Bulba", which showed the influence of Walter Scott. The protagonist is a strong, heroic character, not very typical for the author's later cavalcade of bureaucrats, lunatics, swindlers, and losers.

St. Petersburg Stories (1835) examined disorders of mind and social relationships. "The Nose was about a man who loses his nose, which tries to live its own life. In "Nevsky Prospect" a talented artist falls in love with a tender poetic beauty who turns out to be a prostitute, and commits suicide when his dreams are shattered. "The Diary of a Madman" asks, why is it that "all the best things in life go to the Equerries or the generals?" "The Overcoat" contrasted humility and meekness with the rudeness of the "important personage".

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Dead Souls
In this quintessentially Russian novel, the reader follows Chichikov, a dismissed civil servant turned con-man, through the countryside in pursuit of his shady enterprise.
The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol
In these tales Gogol guides us through the elegant streets of St Petersburg. Something of the deception and violence of the city's creation seems to lurk beneath its harmonious facade, however, and it confounds its inhabitants with false dreams and absurd visions.
Taras Bulba

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The Ledge
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