Nikolai Gogol was one of the great geniuses of nineteenth century Russian literature, with a command of the irrational unmatched by any writer before or since. His strange tales, though often read as forceful demands for social change, were displays of the fantasies of the human spirit. In this ideal marriage of subject and critic, Nabokov analyses his endlessly inventive compatriot, focusing on the masterpieces Dead Souls, The Overcoat and The Government Inspector.Misunderstood by his contemporaries, mishandled by theatre directors and ending his life mistreated by doctors - with medicinal leeches hanging from his exceptional nose - it took Nabokov to give Gogol, 'the oddest Russian in Russia', the critical biography he and his singular, brilliant work deserve.
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