Via Sistina, 126, 00187 Roma RM
Novodevichy Cemetery, Luzhnetskiy Proyezd, 2, Moskva, Russia, 119048
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol[a] (31 March 1809 – 4 March 1852) was a Russian dramatist of Ukrainian origin. In January 1852, when Gogol confessed his sinful leanings to a priest, he was advised to abstain from sleep and food until his soul was clean. He died of starvation in February. The priest was unrepentant: ‘A physician is not blamed when the seriousness of the illness makes him prescribe strong medicine to his patient.’
Although Gogol was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in his work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of surrealism and the grotesque ("The Nose", "Viy", "The Overcoat", "Nevsky Prospekt"). His early works, such as Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, were influenced by his Ukrainian upbringing, Ukrainian culture and folklore. His later writing satirised political corruption in the Russian Empire (The Government Inspector, Dead Souls). The novel Taras Bulba (1835) and the play Marriage (1842), along with the short stories "Diary of a Madman", "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich", "The Portrait" and "The Carriage", are also among his best-known works.
In The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol, Simon Karlinsky is convinced that Gogol’s “emotional orientation” was homosexual. In the 1950s in Berlin Vsevolod Setchkarev, later an Harvard professor, was prevented from mentioning it in his study of Gogol by a senior colleague who threatened to ruin his academic career if he did so. Subsequently, several Freudian critics delved into other aspects of Gogol’s sexuality but left this one untouched. Professor Karlinsky considers the matter to be crucial for an understanding of Gogol’s puzzling nature. “It may provide,” he thinks, “the missing key to the riddle of his personality”; it is “the source and the cause of Gogol’s personal and literary tragedy.”
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