Regarded as the first great masterpiece of Russian literature,
Dead Souls mixes realism and symbolism for a vivid and highly original portrait of Russian life.
Chichikov, a mysterious stranger, arrives in a provincial town with a bizarre but seductive proposition for local landowners. He proposes to buy the names of their serfs who have died but who are still registered on the census, saving their owners from paying tax on them. But what collateral will Chichikov receive for these "souls"?
Full of larger-than-life Dickensian characters - rogues and scoundrels, landowners and serfs, conniving petty officials, and the wily antihero Chichikov - Dead Souls is a devastating comic satire on social hypocrisy.
"One of the world's finest satires...." (
Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature)
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I persisted with this book beyond the call of duty, through tortuous prose, seeing it through to the end - or at least what passed for the end: it finishes mid sentence, followed by the reader's note: "here the manuscript of the original comes to an abrupt end". There had been some missing pages acknowledged previously and a few places where it felt as though the plotline skipped forwards, breaking up the storyline – or maybe I nodded off, having failed to maintain my level of engagement – and the only thing I can say that is positive about this Audiobook is that it saved me having to read it.
If he'd finished it, it would have helped. Or on the basis that he had, that the translator had translated a complete copy. Having enjoyed Gogol's short stories and some interpretations of longer ones, I will stick to those in future.
He made a decent fist of it, but his voice was too monotone and the delivery was relentless, lacking emphasis or dramatic pauses.
Other than saving me from having to read it, and confirming that I am more tenacious than is good for me, no. I should have returned it within the first hour, having failed to engage with it, and I feel robbed.
If this was a translation of the only remaining copy of the book, then I would question its validity as a competed work - let alone an unabridged one. If there are complete editions, to have translated and portrayed this as the unabridged work is a misrepresentation. None of the storylines reach any conclusion and I should have spent those 12 hours more constructively.
- AmV Andy