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This review is from: Dead Souls (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Gogol toppled into madness and died before he could finish this novel, and only the first book of the three is fully completed. The second he purportedly completed, before destroying in a moment of religious fanaticism. Consequently there is only about a third of what he apparently composed here, and a tiny fraction of his proposed third part.
I've long been a fan of Russian literature, and have recently been plodding through Lermontov and Turgenev, who are made to seem pale beside Gogol, although they are undoubtedly brilliant authors. 'Dead Souls' is more comic than many a Russian novel, and sits more in line with Dostoevsky in his more existential themes (there are big parallels with Kafka thematically too). I won't cover the plot of the novel here (others have already done that), but simply recommend this as one of the essential works of Russian literature. Tragically, one can only imagine how phenomenal the completed version would have been.