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Author Information: Nikolai Gogol



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Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol, 1809-1852

The son of a small landowner, Nikolai Gogol was born in 1809 on the family estate in the province of Poltava. He was educated at the Niezhin gymnasium where he started a magazine and acted in student theatricals. In 1828 he went to St. Petersburg, obtained a government clerkship, and devoted himself to writing. In 1831-32 he published two volumes of Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, a collection of stories based on Ukranian folklore, which were enthusiastically received. He next planned to write a history of Russia in the Middle Ages; the work never materialized but the planning of it served to win him a chair of history at the Unicersity of St. Petersburg which he resigned in 1835. Meanwhile he published "Taras Bulba" and a number of short stories including "The Overcoat". On April 19,1836, his famous comedy The Inspector General was produced. The play stirred up controversy and the critics hailed its author as the head of the "naturalist" school. Gogol spent the next twelve years abroad, living mainly in Rome. During his voluntary exile, he completed Dead Souls, a panorama of Russian life. The book was published in 1842 and was an immediate success. The next ten years Gogol spent writing and rewriting a sequel which was doomed never to see publication. He burned it a few days before his death in February 1852.

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