The longer and more carefully we look at a funny story, the sadder it becomes.
– Nikolai Gogol
born in Sorochyntsi, Poltava guberniya, Ukraine March 31, 1809
died: March 04, 1852
genre: Literature & Fiction, Short Stories
influences: Alexander Pushkin
Gogol was born in the Ukrainian Cossack village of Sorochyntsi, in Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire, present-day Ukraine. His mother was a descendant of Polish nobility. His father Vasily Gogol-Yanovsky, a descendant of Ukrainian Cossacks, belonged to the petty gentry, wrote poetry in Russian and Ukrainian, and was an amateur Ukrainian-language playwright who died when Gogol was 15 years old.
After the triumph of Dead Souls, Gogol came to be regarded as a great satirist who lampooned the unseemly sides of Imperial Russia. However, Dead Souls was but the first part of a counterpart to The Divine Comedy. The first part represented the Inferno; the second part was to depict the gradual purification and transformation of the rogue Chichikov under the influence of virtuous publicans and governors – Purgatory.
His last years were spent in restless movement throughout the country. He intensified his relationship with a church elder, Matvey Konstantinovsky. He seems to have strengthened in Gogol the fear of perdition by insisting on the sinfulness of all his imaginative work. His health was undermined by exaggerated ascetic practices and he fell into a state of deep depression. On the night of 24 February 1852, he burned some of his manuscripts, which contained most of the second part of Dead Souls. He explained this as a mistake, a practical joke played on him by the Devil. Soon thereafter he took to bed, refused all food, and died in great pain nine days later.