Sidharth Vardhan

Morally Dead

(Review of Dead Soulsa novel by Nikolai GogolFirst written on September 28, 2015) Serfs in Russia were often referred to as souls which provides for literal meaning to the story. The symbolic meaning of title is easy to guess – people whose conscience is dead (in the story, they are mostly landlords) The first part reads as a light satire on Russian landlords and society. The tone is of gentle humor and conversational nature (often referring to ‘reader’ and ‘author’) and makes a fast read. Almost all landlords in the book are caricatures of their personality type – and so there are sentimentalists, stupid old widows, spendthrift bullies who are prone to lying, misers, intellectual without common sense, beautiful damsels just out of school with golden hair and cheek dimples and so on. Nikolai Gogol often leaves off telling-story to talk about a particular subject (servants, women, government offices, highways, horses, Russia etc) but mostly it is something humorous. Although it fails Bechdel test, it makes up for that by giving enough space to servants … And not to forget horses. Anti-hero It is when Nikolai Gogol finally started analyzing his hero, Chichikov that the book earned the fourth star.

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