Designing Dead Souls: An Anatomy of Disorder in Gogol

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This strikingly original work presents an integral and inclusive explanatory model for the elusive narrative strategies of Gogol's Dead Souls; in the process, it draws larger conclusions about Gogol's creative methods and aesthetic concerns. Throughout his career, Gogol manifests two seemingly contradictory urges: the urge toward order, system, clarity and wholeness, and the urge toward disorder, disruption, obscurity, and fragmentation. The author seeks to make a system, an anatomy, of Gogol's impulses toward disorder and disruption in Dead Souls in all their various and distinctive aspects. In anatomizing Gogolian disorder, she explores the mythology of creativity and lying in Gogol; his (at least literary) fear of the family; the relation between the uses of obscurity in Dead Souls and the poetry of Russian Sentimentalism, especially Zhukovskii's; Dead Souls as parable; and the mutually subversive relation between (1)ction and non(1)ction in Gogol.