Gogol’s Dead Souls, I fear, did not get as much of my attention in the same way that Tchaikovsky did, which is a shame because it really is a wonderfully funny book (and, oddly enough, has a tone reminiscent of Jacobean city comedy). My attention drifted after getting into the second, unfinished volume. I very much wanted to know more about Chichikov himself and his scheme of purchasing dead souls (serfs who had died but for whom estate owners had to continue to pay tax until the next census registered their loss); however, the second volume focuses more on his encounters with different kinds of estate owners and political figures. Much of his final schemes were also recounted in the missing bits of the manuscript, so I was a little disappointed. Also, the last few weeks have been exhausting, so my patience is not what it was in volume 1.
There’s no good reason not to read Dead Souls though. I think the timing just has to be right.
Gogol, Nikolai. Dead Souls. Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Vintage, 1997.