Dead Souls is a socially critical black comedy. Set in Russia before the emancipation of serfs in 1861, the "dead souls" are dead serfs still being counted by landowners as property, as well as referring to the landowners' morality. Through surreal and often dark comedy, Gogol criticizes Russian society after the Napoleonic Wars. He intended to also offer solutions to the problems he satirized, but died before he ever completed the second part of what was intended to be a trilogy. The work famously ends mid-sentence.
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One of the leading figures in nineteenth-century Russian literature, Nikolai Gogol (1809–52) is best
known for his satirical masterpiece, Dead Souls, and humorous plays and short stories such as The
Government Inspector and The Overcoat, written in a highly original and trenchant style.
"Gogol was a strange creature, but then genius is always strange." - Vladimir Nabokov
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