THE FIRST COMPLETE ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF GOGOL’S DEAD SOULS, 1886
GOGOL, Nikolai V. Tchitchikoff's Journeys; or, Dead Souls. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, (1886). Two volumes. Octavo, original burgundy cloth gilt, patterned endpapers. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $8500.
First edition of the first complete English translation of the Russian novelist’s unfinished masterwork, “the first novel from which the world began to form its ideas of 19th-century Russia” (Hornstein, 139).
First published in 1842 in Russian, Gogol's Dead Souls is now widely regarded as the foundation of the Realist movement in Russia. A satirical story of bureaucracy and serfdom, the novel was extremely popular, as it was interpreted as an obvious condemnation of feudalism. In response to the success of Dead Souls, Gogol began work on a second volume, and "while working on this continuation he began to show signs of religious obsession. In 1848, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he felt confirmed in his belief that he was eternally damned. Convinced of the sinfulness of his creative work, he destroyed the manuscripts of the second part of Dead Souls. What remains is only a disjointed fragment" (Hornstein, 221). Tragically, Gogol burned the draft of the second volume only ten days before his death in 1852. An English translation of Part I of the novel was published in 1854 under the title Home Life in Russia, but is "an adaptation… with an altered ending" (Line, 19). The present translation, by Isabel F. Hapgood, also contains A.E. Zakharchenko's conclusion, translated from Charrière's French edition. A London edition of Hapgood's translation was published in 1887. With a table listing Russian ranks and seven pages of publisher's advertisements at the rear of Volume II. Line, 19. Small bookplate (Vol. II).
Text fresh, only light soiling to cloth, mild toning to spines. A handsome copy in near-fine condition.