'Rus! Russ!...Everything within you is open, desolate, and flat; your squat towns barely protrude above the level of your wide plains, marking them like little dots, like specks; here is thing to entice and fascinate the onlooker's gaze. Yet whence this unfathomable, uncanny force that draws me to you?' Although Dead Souls (1842) was largely composed by Gogol during self-imposed exile in Italy in the late 1830s, his last work remains to this day the most essentially Russian of all the great vels in Russian literature. As we follow its hero Chichikov, a dismissed civil servant turned unscrupulous confidence man, about the Russian countryside in pursuit of his shady enterprise, there unfolds before us a gallery of characters worthy in comic range of Chaucer, Rabelais, Fielding and Sterne. With its rich and ebullient language, ironic twists and startling juxtapositions, Dead Souls stands as one of the most dazzling and poetic masterpieces of the nineteenth century. This brilliant new translation by Christopher English is complemented by a superb introductory essay by the pre-eminent Gogol scholar, Robert Maguire. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful tes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Robert A. Maguire is Bakmeteff Professor of Russian Studies at Columbia University, New York.