This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Digression In Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls

1744 words - 7 pages


Nikolai Gogol's masterpiece novel, Dead Souls, remains faithful to the Gogolian tradition in terms of absurdity, lavish detail, and abundant digressions. Although these three literary techniques coexist, interact, and augment each other-the focus of this analysis is to examine how Gogol (or the narrator) deviates from the plotline, the significance of it, and what aesthetic purpose comes from the digression.

Although Gogol's marriage to elaboration is at times strenuous-in fact, it is the underlying reason why impatient readers dislike his work-it serves as a function of tone. The author's excruciating amount of detail is a quirk of the narrator. "They turn up when least expected, and by means of their complete departure from the them, they produce a skillful retardation in the flow of the narrative (Setchkarev, 190)." Considering other characters and situations from the Gogolian tradition, it is not unusual that the author/narrator's voice is somewhat like that of a madman. The syntax and attention to detail in the following passage from Dead Souls is exemplary of Gogol's eccentric style and tone:

"As soon as the lady agreeable in all respects learnt of the arrival of the agreeable lady, she at once came running into the hall. The ladies clutched each other by the hands, exchanged kisses and cried out as do girls from a boarding-school who happen to meet soon after their schooldays are over but before their mothers have had time to explain to them that the father of one is poorer and of lower rank than that of the other. The kisses had a smack to them and made the dogs bark again, and for this they were spanked with a handkerchief (192)."

Arguably, the inclusion of the sound of kisses and the barking of the dogs is superfluous detail. Without it, however, the audience would not get the effect of the narrator's quirky livelihood. In this example, Gogol also seems to make a satirical statement about social class. Clearly, the young women are very close friends, yet there are expected to break their friendship upon learning the inequity of their father's social and financial situation.

Setchkarev comments on Gogol's digression as an aesthetic technique rather than as fuel for the plotline.
"It is evident that Gogol's main concern is not to use style to emphasize the important elements, since at times the most significant things are tossed off in passing as ironic asides, while on the other hand, magnificently constructed, gradually intensified sentences sometimes lead in the end to the statement of something meaningless (187)."

Although there are many excellent examples of "meaningless" digressions throughout Dead Souls, an interesting one can be found in Chapter Seven. The narrator imagines an elaborate, hypothetical scene between the reader (as a runaway serf) and a captain.

"'And why did you steal that soldier's coat?' the captain demands, cursing you again. 'And the trunk with copper coins you took from the...

Find Another Essay On Digression in Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls

MUSSORGSKY’S PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION: Essay

2122 words - 8 pages commitment emerged primarily in opera. Concern for musical realism and sensitivity to broad social and moral issues appeared vividly in his songs of the 1860s, including "The Seminarian," "The Outcast," and "The Orphan Girl". These elements, however, gained cumulative power in his operas. In 1863-66 he set about adapting Gustave Flaubert's Salammbo, then turned to Nikolai Gogol's The Marriage, but completed neither. He started Boris Godunov in

What's in a Name Essay

1086 words - 5 pages realized, not because of how it sounds, but because of who calls him that. Not because it has made him successful or important, but because a piece of who his father was lives on in his name. At the conclusion of the novel, Gogul discovers the book his father had given him so many years ago on his birthday, the collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol. At the time, he had had no appreciation for it and hadn't even read a single story. Now

Importance of St. Petersburg in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment

2587 words - 10 pages bar), not fate determined by God. The devil is active in Dostoyevsky's St. Petersburg just as it is in the Petersburg of Gogol’s time, a century prior to Dostoyevsky. After Raskolnikov admits that "I killed for myself, for myself alone" (Dostoyevsky 399). He tells Sonia that "the Devil led me on" (Dostoyevsky 399). In Gogol's "Overcoat," Petrovich the tailor often overcharges the poor who come to him needing clothes mended. He acts "as if the devil

Digressions in the Epic Poem, Beowulf

2165 words - 9 pages Digressions in Beowulf             A prominent stylistic feature in the poem Beowulf is the number and length of digressions. “Much of the controversy surrounding the poet’s digressiveness has arisen from the fact that we have not yet discovered or admitted why he digresses in the first place” (Tripp 63). In this essay we hope to help answer that question.   The longest digression, almost 100 verses, is the story of Finn, which

Between shades of gray

858 words - 4 pages her "dead" doll. When few selected people are brought to the North Pole for more suffering, dozens of people die from cholera and pneumonia. Lina however, survives and manages to save Jonas and Janina with the help of Nikolai Kretzsky. Between Shades of Gray is based on these people and how they survived the suffering which makes the reader interested. The story starts off with Lina Vilkas being introduced as a middle class artist

Suffering Idealized

1333 words - 5 pages these people find it necessary to force punishment upon themselves as Christ did on the cross. As Porfiry points out to Raskolnikov, a painter named Nikolai has confessed to a murder he did not commit in order to initiate believably deserved chastisement. Though he had done no actual fault, Porfiry is able to analyze that Nikolai is one who believes “all that matters is to accept suffering.” (543). Regardless of guilt Nikolai conceives he must

Mutability

974 words - 4 pages One example of mutability in Shakespeare's poem is in the first two words of the first line. In this line, the speaker states “Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth.” The words “poor soul” emulate mutability because our souls are supposed to be perfect, beautiful, and spiritually wholesome. Instead, they “poor”; they have been changed from something perfect to being run down and spiritually lacking. Furthermore, our souls are being

Narrative Voices in Shelley's Frankenstein and Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

1385 words - 6 pages . He has experienced a living hell, being abandoned by his creator and then by society, because of his ugliness, so he now appears central to this novel. In comparison, Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons is written with the author as the narrator, in the third person narrative, as shown by one example on page 4 of the novel with ‘we will acquaint the reader with him’, in describing Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov. Turgenev is an omniscient

Intercultural communication literature

1265 words - 6 pages everyday customs is facing us in Gogol's story. Ukrainian Cossack epic, which lasted for over two centuries (XVI - XVII) - one of the heroic events of the world history.Particularly, Cossack is a separate culture with its special traditions, habits and lifestyle. Handful of agricultural people, whowas in flight from serfdom, soon grew into a formidable Zaporozhye freemen and actually had become the master of the whole central and southern Dnieper

Life After Death

1620 words - 6 pages Life After Death The Romans, Greeks and Egyptians all share many common beliefs such as the belief in the Gods, spirits, souls and ultimately life after death. Although, these cultures share common beliefs, there are still very different ideas and ways in which they related and communicated with the dead. The Egyptians believed the idea of eternal and actual death was incomprehensible. As for the Greeks and Romans, they also share a

African American Search For Identity: W.E.B. DuBois

1115 words - 4 pages work and also his approach. Rampersad implies that Booker T. Washington's approach to progress for the Negro race is a result of his experiences. Naturally, W.E.B. Du Bois's approach would be different because he was born on free soil in the North. According to "When The Souls of Black Folk appeared in 1903, slavery had been officially dead in the United States for forty years." (Rampersad 300) Rampersad continues to compare the two leaders and

Similar Essays

Gogol's Dead Souls: We Like It, But Why?

2089 words - 8 pages Gogol?s Dead Souls: We Like it, But Why? When we read a novel, most of us are immediately aware of whether or not we actually enjoy reading it. Perhaps we like the author?s fluid style or choice of subject matter. Perhaps the novel?s Byzantine plot or memorable characters intrigue us. It may be a something as simple as an exotic setting or meticulously described romantic scenes. In actuality, though, we often simply know that we just liked the

Satire And Critique In Dead Soul By Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

1259 words - 6 pages mentality, all while providing a humorous and eye-opening form of entertainment. Nikolai Gogol, in his masterpiece, Dead Souls, deftly and flawlessly satirizes the evils that plague his time, such that an unfinished manuscript could become one of the greatest satires of all time. One of the characters by which Gogol satirizes Russian noblemen and their manner is none other than the protagonist himself. Pavel Invanovitch Tchitchikov is introduced

Dead Souls By Nikoli Gogol Essay

1155 words - 5 pages Dead Souls Book Study Dead Souls Is a classic novel by Nikolai Gogol, and is considered an exemplar of 19th century Russian literature. Russian literature in the 19th century provided insight on the flaws and faults of the Russian people during that time, and Gogol masterfully portrayed these defects though his characters. The story focuses on the historical setting, being written after the french invasion of Russia and the thoughts of the war

The Components Of Identity In The Namesake By Lahiri

1865 words - 7 pages and this has a connection with Gogol’s life. When looking at his life it seems to be filled with confusion, disappointments, and dead-ends (Such as?) as he struggles to figure out whom he is and where he believes the curse of his namesake will lead him next. The important themes of name and identity are very evident in Chapter 3. The chapter contains when Gogol firsts starts kindergarten. Ashima and Ashoke wanted him to go by "Gogol" at home but