Dead Souls (Kobo eBook)
First published in 1842, “Dead Souls” is the story of Chichikov, a young middle-class gentleman who comes to a small town in Russia with a dubious plan to improve his wealth and position in life. He begins by spending beyond his means on the premise that he can impress the local officials and gain standing and connections in the community. At the heart of his plan is the idea of acquiring “dead souls” or more explicitly serfs of landowners who have died since the last census. Since the taxes of landowners are based upon the number of serfs that they employ, Chichikov believes that the landowners will be all too happy to part with these “dead souls”. Legend has it that Gogol supposedly produced a third part to the novel which he destroyed shortly before his death. Despite ending in mid-sentence and with portions from the second part which seem to be missing it is generally accepted that the novel is extant. A satirical gem, Gogol’s “Dead Souls” exemplifies his particular gift of exhibiting the true failings of humanity in all their absurdity. This edition is translated by C. J. Hogarth and includes a biographical afterword.