Biography of Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-1852)

Russian man of letters, born in Sorochinsti (Ukraine) in 1809 and died in Moscow in 1852.


Born in a bourgeois family of small landowners, showed very young a marked literary vocation: edited to his composed the poem Hans Küchelgarten (1829), which went largely unnoticed for the readers and the critics. This first literary failure leaned him to follow bureaucratic career. But in 1831, after the publication of his short stories collected in the soirées de Dikanka, ceased to be ministerial official to accept a Chair in history at the Pedagogical Institute of Petersburgo. A year later, after the emergence of the second part of the evening, his literary name already flew in languages of Fame: Pushkinand Zhukovsky had been made echo of these stories of the young Gogol, stories based on traditional legends of his native Ukraine. In them, a natural environment involves the adventures of a few simple characters, governed by the serenity of their harmonious existence.

In 1835, two collections of stories, Mirgorod and arabesques saw the light. In the first one (consisting of four stories) appears the history of Taras Bulba, one of the most famous characters of Gogol. Now, the tone of stories has changed completely: away from the serenity that enveloped his earlier characters, the Myrhorod are full of social conflict. Arabesque - in several critical essays and three tales: perspective Nevsky, the diary of a madman and the portrait-collects the turbulent life of citizens petersburgueses, always surrounded by corruption, unhappiness, and alienation. The city haunts inhabitants: workers suffer from the hostile pressure of the high bureaucracy, powerful machine whose unstoppable gears grind a thousand times everything that falls under its iron-fisted control. It is not surprising that madness or death is in the midst of this environmental hostility, the only escape route. In a further enlargement, Arabesque will also include the nose and the chaise (published in 1836 in the contemporary magazine), and the cloak, appeared for the first time in 1842.

The capote is an extraordinary, so outstanding account in Russian literature of the 19th century, that the same Dostoevsky said that "all we have left the cloak of Gogol". Its protagonist, Akaki Akakievich Bashmachkin, is a mediocre officer whose precarious economic situation forces him to spend deprivation to be able to acquire a new cloak. When at last he/she succeeds, it is victim of a thief snatching it is. Bashmachkin dies of cold, but not before experiencing the vexation of be ignored by those who do nothing to recover his capote. His ghost wanders the streets of Petersburgo, stealing the capes of their merciless neighbours.


Amateur theatre since his premature literary frustrations, left unfinished a first comedy (Vladimir's third grade) who then took to decompose on independent pictures (the morning of a man of business, process, the room of servants and fragment). He/She also began to write the bride and groom, who then reworked in marriage and published in 1842. That same year also saw the players light.

But its first premiere, in 1836, was the inspector (1836), part that, like the rest of the theatre of Gogol, takes up the thesis of his best short stories: aberrant urban life, dominated by the corruption of the civil service and the interests of the powerful, is what perverts the human being. The man is forced to impersonate an experience that does not belong, but always as a victim of this hostile society in which shipwrecked her existence. What happens in the theater of Gogol, compared his prose, is that this message is presented through humorous tricks, with the aim of correcting the injustices of life through satire. Unfortunately, few spectators were able to capture this order to censor in the drama of Gogol: the premiere of the inspector disappoint the expectations of the own writer, who believed to be aware of having been taken over by a mere author of festive theatre.


In the wake of this "failure" in the domains of Talia, Gogol suffered a crisis that prompted him to leave abroad. Established over a long period in Rome, he/she set out to write the novel which would have presumably his definitive consecration, dead souls (1842). Conceived initially as a long poem that would be structured into three parts with hell, purgatory and paradise, in the manner of the Commedia of Dante, to the dessert was reduced only to the first one and several fragments of the second (which have been preserved since the own Gogol would like to destroy them). The novel is an extensive and detailed landscape fresco, villagers and the customs of his native Russia, here depicted as an infernal territory where everything seems to have been calculated to degrade human beings, preventing at all costs the development of virtues which possesses. But, beyond the prosaic reality of a nation and a time certain, dead souls represents all the pettiness of the condition human, regardless of time and place in which it embodies (indeed, does not appear in the text or a single specific toponym allowing to locate the facts narrated in Russian geography).

Paradoxically, the success of this novel helped tilt the precipice that was already Lord fragile physical and mental health of its author; which, haunted by the need to offer in their literary messages a redemptive preaching, he/she reneged of his previous writings and collected their religious, philosophical and literary thought in selected fragments of correspondence with his friends (1846). This work was poorly received by those who had hailed its previous production, disappointed by the involution of an author who had fallen into a religious paroxysm next to dementia. Indeed, Gogol, increasingly involved in a reactionary, Orthodox Christianity and filozarista, undertook a journey to the Holy Land, he/she returned in a mystical crisis, bordering on madness, put an end to their physical losses and their spiritual worries.