When one great author engages another, as Andrei Bely so brilliantly does in Gogol’s Artistry, the result is inevitably a telling portrait of both writers. So it is in Gogol’s Artistry. Translated into English for the first time, this idiosyncratic, exhaustive critical study is as interesting for what it tells us about Bely’s thought and method as it is for its insights into the oeuvre of his literary predecessor. Bely’s argument in this book is that Gogol’s earlier writing should be given more consideration than most critics have granted. Employing what might be called a scientific perspective, Bely considers how often certain colors appear; he diagrams sentences and discusses Gogol’s prose in terms of mathematical equations. The result, as strange and engaging as Bely’s best fiction, is also an innovative, thorough, and remarkably revealing work of criticism.
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The Pictorial Aspect
Gogol in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries