Nikolai Gogol Additional Biography


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

0111201549-Gogol.jpg Nikolai Gogol (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Born in the Ukrainian region of the Russian Empire, the youthful Gogol absorbed the images of country life and social classes which he later portrayed in his novels and short stories. Alexander Pushkin, prior to Gogol’s early death, spoke highly of Gogol’s potential as a writer. Gogol’s brief career in teaching was a notable failure; however, residence in St. Petersburg and extensive travel in Europe broadened his knowledge and shaped his literary skills.

Despite Gogol’s success with an early novel, his dramatic and florid style was not widely popular. His later novels and plays often endured public criticism. A hypochondriac, Gogol responded with periodic bouts of depression, and he occasionally destroyed his own manuscripts and contemplated suicide.

Gogol’s writings included a variety of plots, themes, and styles ranging from comedic stories, such as The Inspector- General (1836), to pathos, as in “The Overcoat.” Dead Souls (1842), his novel best known to twentieth century readers, deals with the institution of Russian serfdom. Gogol never thought of himself as a reformer, and his literary characterization of Russian society occasionally evoked opposition among his reform- minded contemporaries. His Correspondence with Friends (1847) portrayed serfdom and the class system sympathetically, leading other writers to accuse Gogol of supporting those repressive social conditions.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol was born in the Ukraine on March 31, 1809, to a Ukrainian landowner, Vasily Afanasievich Gogol-Yanovsky, and his young wife, Mariya Ivanovna. Vasily Afanasievich wrote plays in Ukrainian and sponsored artistic evenings at his home. Nikolai would write almost nothing in Ukrainian throughout his life. On his father’s estate, Nikolai would absorb the manner and, significantly, the pace of provincial life, which would flavor his works from his early stories through Dead Souls.

At school and later in the Gymnasium, Nikolai remained something of a loner. He participated in activities, especially in drama performances, where he is said to have excelled. His classmates called him “the mysterious dwarf,” though, for his predilection to aloofness and his unassuming stature.

Gogol’s first work, Hans Kuechelgarten (1829), which he published at his own expense, was received so poorly that he bought all the unsold copies, burned them, and never wrote in verse again. He fled the country (in what was to become a characteristic retreat) and took refuge in Germany for several weeks. When he returned, he occupied a minor post in the civil service in St. Petersburg and began writing the stories that would begin to appear in 1831 and subsequently make him famous. His first collection of stories, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, met with great critical and popular acclaim and set the stage for...

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(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Born into a family of Ukrainian gentry, Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol received his earliest education locally. Later, he attended grammar school in Nezhin, where his first literary attempts were contributions to the school magazine. In 1828, he left the Ukraine and headed for St. Petersburg to make a name for himself in the capital but was sadly disillusioned when this goal proved to be impossible without connections and money. Even more disappointing was the failure, in 1829, of his first serious literary work, “Hanz Küchelgarten,” a long, sentimental narrative poem that he published at his own expense. When it was rejected by the critics, Gogol burned all the remaining copies and decided to turn his back on Russia altogether by...

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol, the son of a country squire, was born and educated in the Ukraine. Russian was to him a foreign language, which he mastered while attending secondary school in Nezhin, also in the Ukraine. After his graduation in 1828, Gogol went to St. Petersburg, where he joined the civil service. His first literary effort, “Hans Küchelgarten” (1829), a sentimental idyll in blank verse, was a failure, but his prose fiction immediately attracted attention. After the success of Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka, Gogol decided to devote himself entirely to his literary career. He briefly taught medieval history at St. Petersburg University (1834-1835) and thereafter lived the life of a freelance writer and journalist, frequently supported by wealthy patrons. The opening of his play The Inspector General at the Aleksandrinsky Theater in St. Petersburg on April 19, 1836, attended and applauded by Czar Nicholas I, was a huge success, but it also elicited vehement attacks by the reactionary press, enraged by Gogol’s spirited satire of corruption and stupidity in the provincial administration, and Gogol decided to go abroad to escape the controversy.

From 1836 to 1848, Gogol lived abroad, mostly in Rome, returning to Russia for brief periods only. The year 1842 marked the high point of Gogol’s career with the appearance of the first part of Dead Souls and the publication of a four-volume set of collected works, which contained some previously unpublished pieces, in particular the great short story “The Overcoat.” After 1842, Gogol continued to work on part 2 of Dead Souls, but he was becoming increasingly preoccupied with questions of religion and morality. His book Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends, actually a collection of essays in which Gogol defends traditional religious and moral values as well as the social status quo (including the institution of serfdom), caused a storm of protest, as liberals felt that it was flagrantly and evilly reactionary, while even many conservatives considered it to be unctuous and self-righteous.

Sorely hurt by the unfavorable reception of his book, Gogol almost entirely withdrew from literature. He returned to Russia for good in 1848 and spent the rest of his life in religious exercise and meditation. Shortly before his death, caused by excessive fasting and utter exhaustion, Gogol burned the final version of part 2 of Dead Souls. An earlier version was later discovered and published in 1855.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol (GAW-guhl) was born in the village of Sorochintsy, near the town of Dikanka in Ukraine, then a part of the Russian empire, on March 31, 1809. Gogol was the first surviving child of Vasily Afanasievich Gogol-Yanovsky, a landowner of dubious claim to Polish nobility who owned 150 to 200 serfs and was given to arranging plays and pageants for the amusement of the local gentry, and Maria Ivanovna Kosiarovsky, the niece of the wealthy local patriarch, Dmitri Prokofeyevich Troschinsky. At the time that her marriage was arranged, Maria was barely fourteen years old. She was herself a child in a household that she was expected to fill with other children. Maria was an extremely doting mother whose children,...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nikolai Gogol was a man with more than his share of neuroses. He was confident of his narrative gift yet lived in fear that his inspiration would wane. He was misinterpreted in his lifetime, and he died in mental and spiritual frustration. However, he has given world literature some of its most laughable and yet pathetic prose. In most of his mature works, he laid bare the banality and the pettiness (signifying the manifestation of false values) underlying all human pretense. For Gogol, humor was the most effective way to call for human sincerity. Digressions were the way that he chose to address the central aspects of human life. Trivia was his path to finding what was most important.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol (GAW-guhl), the son of a Cossack landowner, attended the provincial grammar school in Nyezhin from 1821 until 1828. Being naturally withdrawn, Gogol made few friends, and at an early age he turned to writing, actually finishing a boyish tragedy titled The Brigands. After leaving school he went to St. Petersburg. Shortly after his arrival he published under the pseudonym of V. Alov an idyllic poem titled Hanz Kuechelgarten; this work was so harshly ridiculed by the critics that Gogol destroyed as many copies as he could. Deciding to go to America, he traveled as far as Lübeck, Germany. There, his funds exhausted, he changed his mind about emigration and returned to St. Petersburg. He...

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(Drama for Students)

Nikolai Gogol Published by Gale Cengage

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol, named after Saint Nikolai, was born in 1809, in the small town of Velikie Sorochintsy, in the Ukraine, then part...

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