Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Provincial capital

Provincial capital. Unnamed Russian city in which the novel opens with Chichikov’s arrival. The city serves as the base from which he makes a series of trips into the countryside to visit local landowners. Nikolai Gogol’s descriptions of the town, with its poor sidewalks, unimpressive architecture, and sparse vegetation, highlight the pretentiousness of its officials and merchants, as readers may contrast the essential meagerness and inanity of the physical locale with the exaggerated claims made about the site in official plaques and shop signs.


Manilovka (mahn-eh-LOHV-kah). First estate that Chichikov visits. Manilovka is distinguished by a striking lack of vegetation and a superfluous pavilion called the Temple of Solitary Meditation. Its unimpressive landscape reflects the personality of its owner, Manilov, a bland and colorless person who is given to idle and useless dreaming.

Sobakevich estate

Sobakevich estate (soh-BAH-keh-vihch). Everything at the Sobakevich estate echoes the physique and mind of its owner, Sobakevich, a man described as looking remarkably like a bear and who evinces a powerful, authoritarian attitude toward his surroundings. His house is solidly built, somewhat like a military fort, and all its furnishings seem to call out with their heavy construction that they, too, are part and parcel of their owner’s personality.

Korobochka estate...

(The entire section is 612 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Fanger, Donald. The Creation of Nikolai Gogol. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979. An interesting consideration of the relationship between Gogol and his readers. Evaluates Gogol’s commentary on literature within his texts and explores the road as the dominant metaphor of Dead Souls.

Gippius, V. V. Gogol. Edited and translated by Robert Maguire. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ardis, 1981. This classic treatment of Gogol’s life and works is enhanced by glosses on contemporary figures. The book treats Gogol’s literary influences in detail. The chapter on Dead Souls considers the structure of the novel as a gallery of caricatures and explores Gogol’s reformulation of the picaresque novel.

Griffiths, Frederick, and Stanley Rabinowitz. Gogol, Dostoevsky, and National Narrative. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1990. Places Gogol’s work within the framework of the epic tradition. Evaluates stylistic aspects of the text, such as Homeric similes and hyperbole, that create the mock-heroic mood of Dead Souls.

Maguire, Robert, ed. and trans. Gogol from the Twentieth Century. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1974. A collection of well-known Russian essays. These varied approaches to Gogol’s work include a consideration of Gogol as a realist depicting provincial life, a psychoanalytic evaluation of his prose, and a stylistic analysis of his wordplay. The introduction provides a thorough overview of the criticism.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Nikolai Gogol. Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1944. The clever tone of Nabokov’s book mirrors that of Gogol’s prose. While the stylistic analysis is eclectic and brilliant, the primary focus is on banality. Gogol’s genius is his attention to the absurd in everyday life.