Sunday, October 17, 2010

The list of my souls.

I realized when going through the book I keep all my reading notes in that I haven't blogged about reading Dead Souls by Gogol. I am, and always will be, a big fan of Russian Lit and have read a lot of Gogol's short stories. This novel is unfinished but is still pretty substantial and fleshed out.

"it became clear that, though all else in the world might conceivably be possible, never could the hatchet be buried between ladies who had quarrelled over a neglected visit."

Our main character is Chichikov and his is on a mission to collect as many "souls" as possible. In Russia there were serfs that were often referred to as souls, as in he had an estate with five thousand souls. Chickikov goes to towns and people's houses and has them write over all of their "dead souls" to him. Because (and this was a little confusing to me) the landowners still had to pay tax on these dead people, but Chichikov was trying to wheel and deal some serious fraud.

"and the spring night which, laying its elbows upon the tree-tops, and spangled with stars, and vocal with the nightingales which were pouring forth warbled ditties from the recesses of the foliage, kept glancing through the door, and regarding the company within."
Chichikov integrates himself so well into a new town, making friends with all of the local officials and getting invited to every one's house for tea. Appearances are extremely important to him as people are not so sure about selling their dead peasants and he has to warm himself up to them first.

The first big chunk of the novel follows Chichikov in one particular town and then towards the end time passes and we jump places as there are parts of the manuscript missing. We learn a little about Chichikov's upbringing and how money was placed as the most important thing and strives to get money by whatever means.
"And even devious methods I employed only when I saw the straight road would not serve my purposes well."
 It is hard to judge a novel that is unfinished. I am not sure that I liked the character enough to enjoy a whole book about him. I would sooner read his "The Nose" or "The Overcoat" - those are amazing. 

No comments:

Post a Comment