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After failing as an actor and a poet, Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-52) turned to writing short stories. Only in 1834, however, after his dismal failure as professor of history at the Univ. of St. Petersburg, did he decide that his real career lay in fictional literature. He thereafter lived for a dozen years in Western Europe and visited Russia only occasionally.
Meanwhile he worked at his masterpiece Dead Souls (Mërtvye dushi, 1842). The novel met with acclaim, for the public readership saw it as an attack on the cruel institution of serfdom. Gogol hoped to carry the novel further --to take the second part a picture of all Russia, and to effect the country''s spiritual… Read more