Alone of the great Russian novels of the nineteenth-century, Dead Souls has remained almost as profound a mystery to critics as it was when it first appeared. James Woodward disputes the traditional view of Gogol's work, contending that it is not a sprawling mass of loosely connected episodes, details, and digressions. His close reading of the text offers a new interpretation by tracing the essential features of Gogol's creative method.
Although Dead Souls is a subject of lively debate in almost every respect, no Western scholar has ever before made it the subject of book-length analysis. James Woodward's inquiry addresses itself to many fundamental questions: How is the theme developed? What characterizes the writer's creative method? Does the structure of the novel reveal an inner logic? How can the digressive narrative style be reconciled with generally accepted standards of artistic unity and coherence?
Originally published in 1978.
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