thoughts about Gogol

 

 

Elisabeth van der Meer has another great post at

https://arussianaffair.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/typically-gogol/

which is about the Russian author Nikolai Gogol.

I responded as follows.

 

 

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Great post, Elisabeth. Very interesting and insightful.

A couple of things that come to mind.

The comparison to Dickens is very apt. The ability to create characters who are hilarious, idiosyncratic, total originals, and almost like distortions of real life, yet who — in their incongruity with what we think of us as “average” — are fully human and totally believable.

I read Henri Troyat’s biography of Gogol. I recall it as being very good.

Regarding Gogol’s sexuality, Simon Karlinsky’s monograph The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol (1976) is excellent. Karlinksy, a professor of Slavic languages and literature at UCal-Berkeley, was a top-notch scholar who produced another outstanding work on Chekhov (letters plus extensive commentary). I have read both books; they were well worth it.

The Wikipedia entry on Gogol contains the following paragraph:

In 1834 Gogol was made Professor of Medieval History at the University of St. Petersburg, a job for which he had no qualifications. He turned in a performance ludicrous enough to warrant satiric treatment in one of his own stories. After an introductory lecture made up of brilliant generalizations which the “historian” had prudently prepared and memorized, he gave up all pretense at erudition and teaching, missed two lectures out of three, and when he did appear, muttered unintelligibly through his teeth. At the final examination, he sat in utter silence with a black handkerchief wrapped around his head, simulating a toothache, while another professor interrogated the students. This academic venture proved a failure and he resigned his chair in 1835.

Troyat does a good job of describing this incident.

I will be eagerly awaiting your next post.

 

 

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Ms. van der Meer’s site is one of the best sites devoted to literature I have found. If you happen to be interested in or love Russian literature, it bears checking out. I keep recommending it to friends, including those whose literary tastes I am not sure of, but who I feel would appreciate the site.

Her site, “A Russian Affair,” is at

https://arussianaffair.wordpress.com/

 

— Roger W. Smith

   August 2017

 

 

 

 

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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2 Responses to thoughts about Gogol

  1. Thanks, Elisabeth. You know you’re welcome.

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