Author(s): Nikolay Gogol
'Hey, you with the beard!' A coiffured con man travels across Russia's rural backwaters, buying the souls of dead serfs from their owners to make his fortune, in Gogol's exuberant, bravura masterwork: the greatest comedy in Russian literature.
Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) was born in the Ukraine and left for St Peterburg at the age of 19 where he published a collection of short stories and for a short time held the post of professor of history at the university. Gogol's experience of life in St Petersburg informed his savagely satirical play, The Government Inspector, and a series of brilliant short stories including Nevsky Prospekt and Notes of a Madman. From 1836 to 48, Gogol lived abroad, mainly in Rome, where he was working on his comic epic Dead Souls - a work he wrestled with for the rest of his life before renouncing literature and burning parts of the manuscript shortly before he died.