Some contend that DEAD SOULS, one of Gogol's defining works, was a precursor to Joseph Heller's great satirical novel CATCH-22. The irony in both runs deep, wide, and circularly; in Gogol's case, we find an early example of the antihero, Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov, who purchases the souls of dead Russian peasants to further his soulless career. This criminally minded social climber has left the world of corrupt bureaucracy to fleece the self-same bureaucracy in a hilarious fable of small minds in nineteenth-century rural Russia. Gordon Griffin does a marvelous plummy job of bringing DEAD SOULS through a glass, darkly.
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