Nikolai Gogol

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New Directions Publishing, 1961 - Biography & Autobiography - 172 pages
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This biography begins with Gogol's death and ends with his birth, an inverted structure typical of both Gogol and Nabokov. The biographer proceeds to establish the relationship between Gogol and his novels, especially with regard to "nose-consciousness", a peculiar feature of Russian life and letters, which finds its apotheosis in Gogol's own life and prose. There are more expressions and proverbs concerning the nose in Russian than in any other language in the world. Nabokov's style in this biography is comic, but as always leads to serious issues--in this case, an appreciation of the distinctive "sense of the physical" inherent in Gogol's work. Nabokov describes how Gogol's life and literature mingled, and explains the structure and style of Gogol's prose in terms of the novelist's life.
 

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Nikolai Gogol

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Nabokov's 1959 portrait of fellow Russian Gogol offered a different take from previous studies. He debunks the theory that Gogol was the Russian Dickens, claiming that his comedy was much more severe ... Read full review

Contents

HIS DEATH AND HIS YOUTH
1
THE GOVERNMENT SPECTER
35
OUR MR CHICHIKOV
61
THE TEACHER AND GUIDE
114
THE APOTHEOSIS OF A MASK
139
COMMENTARIES
151
CHRONOLOGY
156
INDEX
165
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About the author (1961)

Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), one of the 20th century's greatest writers in both Russian and English, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and spent his adult life in Germany, France, the United States, and Switzerland. In addition to his literary work, he was a passionate lepidopterist and chess player. His books include Lolita, Pale Fire, The Real Light of Sebastian Knight, Laughter in the Dark, and many more.

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