Nikolai Gogol

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I am fated to journey hand in hand with my strange heroes and to survey the surging immensity of life, to survey it through the laughter that all can see and through the tears unseen and unknown by anyone.

Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol (Russian: Никола́й Васи́льевич Го́голь) (1 April 18094 March 1852) was a Ukrainian-born Russian writer, whose best known work is perhaps Dead Souls, seen by many as the first "modern" Russian novel.

Sourced[edit]

I shall laugh my bitter laugh.
  • I am very fond of the modest manner of life of those solitary owners of remote villages, who in Little Russia are commonly called "old-fashioned," who are like tumbledown picturesque little houses, delightful in their simplicity and complete unlikeness to the new smooth buildings whose walls have not yet been discolored by the rain, whose roofs are not yet covered with green lichen, and whose porch does not display its bricks through the peeling stucco.
    • "Old World Landowners" (1835)
  • "Turn around, son! What a funny figure you are! Are those priests' cassocks you are wearing? And do they all go about like that at the academy?" With these words old Bulba greeted his two sons who had been studying at the Kiev college and had come home to their father.
    • "Taras Bulba" (1835)
  • And ruined is the Cossack! He is lost for all the chivalry of the Cossacks! He will see Zaporozhye no more; nor his father's farms, nor the church of God. Ukraine will see no more the bravest of the sons who undertook to defend her. Old Taras will tear the gray hair from his head and curse the day and hour when he begot such a son to shame him.
    • "Taras Bulba" (1835)
  • When the priest went in, he stopped short at the sight of this defamation of God's holy place, and dared not serve the requiem on such a spot. And so the church was left forever, with monsters stuck in the doors and windows, was overgrown with forest trees, roots, rough grass and wild thorns, and no one can now find the way to it.
    • "Viy" (1835)
  • In the course of reading he became more and more melancholy and finally became completely gloomy. When the reading was over he uttered in a voice full of sorrow: "Goodness, how sad is our Russia!"
  • I shall laugh my bitter laugh.
    • Epitaph on Gogol's tombstone
  • ...it's not my job to preach a sermon. Art is anyhow a homily. My job is to speak in living images, not in arguments. I must exhibit life full-face, not discuss life.

The Inspector General (1836)[edit]

  • It is no use to blame the looking glass if your face is awry.
    • Epigraph
  • Of course, Alexander the Great was a hero, but why smash the chairs?
    • Epigraph; said of a history teacher who smashed a chair in his excitement when discussing the conqueror
  • The more destruction there is everywhere, the more it shows the activity of town authorities.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • I tell everyone very plainly that I take bribes, but what kind of bribes? Why, greyhound puppies. That's a totally different matter.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • The sergeant's widow told you a lie when she said I flogged her. I never flogged her. She flogged herself.
    • Act IV, sc. xv
  • What are you laughing at? You are laughing at yourselves!
    • Act V, sc. viii

Dead Souls (1842)[edit]

What is amusing will turn into being gloomy, if you stand too long before it, and then God knows what ideas may not stray into the mind...
  • As it is so strangely ordained in this world, what is amusing will turn into being gloomy, if you stand too long before it, and then God knows what ideas may not stray into the mind... Why is it that even in moments of unthinking, careless gaiety a different and strange mood comes upon one?
    • Vol. I, ch. 3
  • There are people who exist in this world not like entities but like the speckles or spots on something.
    • Vol. I, ch. 5
  • And for a long time yet, led by some wondrous power, I am fated to journey hand in hand with my strange heroes and to survey the surging immensity of life, to survey it through the laughter that all can see and through the tears unseen and unknown by anyone.
    • Vol. I, ch. 7
Since you are without end yourself, is it not within you that a boundless thought will be born?
  • Oh troika, winged troika, tell me who invented you? Surely, nowhere but among a nimble nation could you have been born in a country which has taken itself in earnest and has evenly spread far and wide over half of the globe, so that once you start counting the milestones you may count on till a speckled haze dances before your eyes... Rus, are you not similar in your headlong motion to one of those nimble troikas that none can overtake? The flying road turns into smoke under you, bridges thunder and pass, all fall back and is left behind!... And what does this awesome motion mean? What is the passing strange steeds! Has the whirlwind a home in your manes?... Rus, whither are you speeding to? Answer me. No answer. The middle bell trills out in a dream its liquid soliloquy; the roaring air is torn to pieces and becomes wind; all things on earth fly by and other nations and states gaze askance as they step aside and give her the right of way.
    • Vol. I, ch. 11
  • Rus! Rus! I see you, from my lovely enchanted remoteness I see you: a country of dinginess, and bleakness and dispersal; no arrogant wonders of nature crowned by the arrogant wonders of art appear within you to delight or terrify the eyes... So what is the incomprehensible secret force driving me towards you? Why do I constantly hear the echo of your mournful song as it is carried from the sea through your entire expanse?... And since you are without end yourself, is it not within you that a boundless thought will be born?
    • Vol. II, ch. 2

External links[edit]

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