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By Robert Maguire

For the previous one hundred fifty years, critics have said 'the Gogol problem', through which they suggest their lack of ability to account for a existence and paintings which are confusing, frequently opaque, but have proved continually interesting to generations of readers. This e-book proceeds at the assumption that Gogol's lifestyles and paintings, in all their manifestations, shape an entire; it identifies, in ways in which have eluded critics so far, the rhetorical options and thematic styles that create the cohesion. those better issues emerge from an in depth examine of the foremost texts, fictional and nonfictional, and in flip are set in a huge inventive and highbrow context, Russian and ecu, with specified realization to German philosophy, the visible arts, and Orthodox Christian theology.

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For other scholarly writings on Gogol, in several languages, readers may consult the exhaustive bibliography compiled by Philip Frantz, which covers works published through 1988. Few studies in any language have considered Gogol's achievement as a whole. The ones that do all date from the twentieth century. Among the Russians who have made the attempt, I most admire Vasily Gippius, Grigory Gukovsky, and Andrei Sinyavsky. Otherwise, the best work has emanated from the English-speaking world. The first study of this kind-- which, however, ignores the nonfiction--was Vladimir Nabokov Gogol.

11 In the topography of Gogol's story, beyond the hill lie open fields, which, like the miser's domains, lack boundaries and are therefore hostile. There live the Poles, the archenemy. It is an interesting though perhaps coincidental fact that the word "Pole" (polak in Polish, polyak in Russian) is derived from the common Slavic word for "field" (pole in both Russian and Polish). The significance of this topography is tellingly summed up by the narrator: "A thatched roof came into sight behind the mountain: it was Danilo's ancestral home.

Expansion is caused by the intrusion of an alien element into a social body that is already full and integral. Again this holds in a general way throughout Gogol's work. In "A Terrible Vengeance," the element takes three different forms. One comes from the outside, most graphically as the sorcerer. Another consists of people who leave the collective and return, as Danilo does when he visits the castle and then goes home. Returns are always charged with danger in Gogol, because they bring with them whatever lies outside.

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