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 Nikolai Gogol


Born:   31 March 1809
Deceased:   4 March 1852

a world famous Ukranian-born Russian writer, novelist, playwright and critic

      

 

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was born on March, 20th (on April, 1st) 1809 in Velikie Sorochintsy Village of Mirgorod District of the Poltava Province, Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine). The future classic of Russian literature came from an average-income landowner’ family: the Gogols had about 400 serfs and over 1000 dessiatinas (1 dessiatina=2.7 acres) of land. Nikolai’s mother was a descendant of Polish nobility. Apart from Nikolai there were 5 more children in the family. The writer’s ancestors on his father’s side were hereditary priests, however his grandfather Athanasius Demyanovich left the spiritual field and went to serve in hetman’s office; it was he who supplemented his surname Yanovsky with another one – Gogol - that was meant to show the family’s origin from Colonel Evstafy (Ostap) Gogol known in the Ukrainian history of the 17th century.

The future writer spent his childhood in his home estate of Vasilievka, sometimes visiting with his parents the neighboring Dikanka (which evidently inspired the famous Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka) that belonged to Minister of Internal Affairs V.P.Kochubey, Obuhovka, where writer V.V.Kapnist lived, and especially Kibintsy, the estate of the former minister D.P.Troshchinsky, Gogol’s distant relative on the mother’s side.

First Nikolai Gogol studied at Poltava District School (1818-19), then took private lessons from Poltava teacher Gabriel Sorochinsky, while living in his apartment, and in May 1821 entered Nezhinsky grammar school for higher studies. Gogol was rather a mediocre student, but excelled at the school theater as an actor and a set dresser. His first literary attempts in poetry and prose date to the grammar school years. They were mainly “lyrical and serious in spirit”, but not without comical ones. After finishing grammar school Gogol together with one of his closest friends A.S.Danilevsky arrived in Petersburg in December 1828 and half a year later left for Germany.

After returning to Russia in September, 1829 Gogol entered into civil service – initially in the Department of State Economy.

The year 1831 saw the publication of Gogol’s Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, thanks to which the author, just like Byron, woke up famous one fine morning. From summer 1834 Gogol totally dedicated himself to writing.

In 1836 Nikolai Gogol again went abroad, where he spent the following twelve years apart from his two visits to Russia in 1839-40 and in 1841-42. The writer lived in Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, and Czechia, but spent more time in Italy, where he continued his work on The Dead Souls, the plot of which (just like that of The Inspector General) was prompted to him by Alexander Pushkin.

The first volume of The Dead Souls came out in 1841, but work on the second volume proceeded very tensely and painfully. In summer 1845 Gogol in a heavy state of mind burned down the manuscript of the 2nd volume. In April 1848, after pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre in the Holy Land (Palestine) Gogol finally returned home and lived mostly in Moscow. By the beginning of 1852 the writer created another edition of the 2nd volume of The Dead Souls and even read some chapters from it to his closest friends M.P.Pogodin, S.T.Aksakov and his family members.

On the night of February 11th to 12th Nikolai Gogol, then living at Count Alexey Tolstoy’s place in Nikitsky Boulevard, in a state of deep in the house in Nikitsky parkway where veins at count A.P.Tolstogo, in a condition of a deep emotional crisis burned down the new edition of the second volume. A few days later, in the morning of February, 21st (March, 4th) the writer died.

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was laid to rest in the graveyard of Svyato-Danilov Monastery in St. Petersburg, but in 1931 his remains were reburied at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.


Tags: Russian Literature Russian Writers Nikolai Gogol   








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