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Publisher's Summary

Gogol's great Russian classic is the Pickwick Papers of Russian literature. It takes a sharp but humorous look at life in all its strata but especially the devious complexities in Russia, with its landowners and serfs. We are introduced to Chichikov, a businessman who, in order to trick the tax authorities, buys up dead 'souls', or serfs, whose names still appear on the government census. Despite being a dealer in phantom crimes and paper ghosts, he is the most beguiling of Gogol's characters. Gogol's obsession with attempting to display 'the untold riches of the Russian soul' eventually led him to madness, religious mania, and death. Dismissed by him as merely 'a pale introduction to the great epic poem which is taking shape in my mind', Dead Souls is the culmination of Gogol's genius. Translator: Constance Garnett.

Public Domain (P)2017 Naxos AudioBooks

What listeners say about Dead Souls

Average Customer Ratings
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It is a fun absurdist book.

It is too bad the story will remain unfinished. This is a wonderful comedy of the absurd. It has a great antihero. The performance was great.

5 people found this helpful

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Hilarious and well done, but massive sections of the manuscript are missing?

The book is well performed by the reader, and the text itself is perfectly wonderful. I didn’t expect it to be so clever and comical. It’s fantastically funny.

Sometimes, audio books from Audible (elsewhere too?) contain glitches which seem to sometimes result in missing phrases/passages, or duplicated phrases/passages. The character of the glitches vary, but a glitch is a glitch. In this book, there are several instances when the reader says something like (paraphrasing) “an extension section of the manuscript is missing here.” It’s a difficulty of the audiobook format that we cannot easily know, I’m the moment, whether the author has written these words directly and means to imply somehow that he has been conveying a story whose true source is some unnamed 3rd person, which is how I took it, or whether there is some other problem with the book itself. And there’s a question as to how such problems might have arisen. Who knows! It’s not explained. At first, these missing sections, for me, added to the comedy, and added mystery and I wondered whether Gogol might later explain to us (he often speaks as the author directly to his audience) why the sections are missing. It seems, however, that sections of the actual manuscript are simply missing. After finishing the audio novel and researching my question online, I see that it’s common knowledge that the book simply ends mid-sentence. I haven’t seen, however, any explanation of the several other noted missing sections. There is one break in the story that is quite unsatisfying, unfortunately, a break after which our putative hero (or antihero) is suddenly apparently wealthy, and seemingly no longer traveling at all but is quite established. This is altogether confusing. Some greater warning, I think, is warranted.

Even so, this novel is truly excellent and excellently performed. I do not at all regret having bought it or listened and plan to listen again before long. A true joy and delight.

8 people found this helpful

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A true dud.

Hours of my life I’ll never get back. Performance was aces. Story was good for 100 pages. Then a downward spiral. Lost its humor. Lost its edge. Bit. The. Dust.

2 people found this helpful

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Astute social commentary

Gogol keenly discerned the character types of many among the Russian landed gentry of his day. He presents them amusingly, with all their warts. He also seemed to have an idea how Russian society might develop in the future, though he didn't live to see it.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent narration

Great book and the reading of it was possibly the best I’ve heard - very good audiobook

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Excellent

I only wish we had the missing pages of the manuscript. Such a great story and such great style....
May Dead Souls live on!

1 person found this helpful

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Enjoy traveling to a different time and place

Loved the eccentric characters the reader encounters through the journey of a flawed though sim pathetic protagonist

1 person found this helpful

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Somewhat amusing, lesson on Russia, but not great

Long, rambling, interesting study of Russian ways. but the story is thin. better stick to Dostoyevsky.

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So funny

Loved it! Great idea for a story! Kinda quirky, Felt like the ending was a bit hurried to me but oh yes, want to read more Gogol!

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  • J.
  • 03-22-22

Parts Missing.

My first exposure to Gogol and I was surprised at how funny he is. His genius lays with his description of characters . Perspective sometimes shifts about as with time. The first 3/4s of the novel are very strong. We are kept eagerly awaiting an explanation as to why the main character is collecting "dead souls." Be warned , however, that this is an incomplete manuscript. There are several breaks in the narrative when a note comes from aside that several pages are missing. The story picks up without any effort by an editor to fill in the gaps One would think there has been some work by literary scholars to piece together Gogul's notes if they exist. In any event the gaps are jarring. Worst of all, the novel ends in mid-sentence and we can only guess at the fate of our protagonist.

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  • Kamil Arakeljan
  • 11-13-18

The life of 19th century entrepreneur

First of all, I have bit of a soft spot for Russian classical literature, maybe because I still haven’t read one bad book from this genre. Second of all, Dead Souls is yet another stunning classic. The story revolves around character named Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov who perfectly fits description of modern day entrepreneur except he lived in different time of our history. He goes from town to town, trying to execute his master business plan and meets un-ending variety of characters. And this is where the biggest strength of Gogol and this book lies.

The unimaginable attention to detail Gogol gives to every person, town, or anything mentioned makes it very easy to use your imagination and construct this places in your mind and start living the story like you were there. The character stereotypes he portrays are so true that I cannot fathom out how he could know all of this back in 19th century. After you read this book you will come to understanding that we as people haven’t changed that much in last 200 years. All character traits and stereotypes are the same today. We have advanced technologically but not as humans. Our mindsets are still the same. If you let it, this book will teach you a lot about how people behave and how to deal with it.

For some people these constant descriptions of details might get boring after a while, and story can get confusing as a result. But, I have enjoyed everything thoroughly. And yes, the book is missing a lot of pages in second part and ends mid-sentence. The usual explanation is that Gogol went mad and tried to destroy this book. However, me personally I like the theory that he didn’t go mad but quite the opposite. That he did it all on purpose to fit the overall theme of the book which I don’t want to spoil. The audibook narrator Nicholas Boulton is simply amazing. He handles all the different characters perfectly. So, get this audiobook and indulge in it, enjoy every second.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Sophie
  • 09-25-18

A perfect rendition.

You simply couldn’t ask for a better audiobook version of this classic of Russian literature. So lucid and enthralling it makes you question whether reading the book in the traditional method would have actually been far less of an experience. One doesn’t want to actually say, but one can’t help but think it.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-06-19

Excellent,

Wonderful reading - Nicholas Boulton does justice to the eccentric and brilliant writing of Gogol. I love Garnett’s translation as well.

2 people found this helpful

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  • WoodWild
  • 08-23-21

true classic

as fresh as it ever was, and still bitingly funny. a true classic of world wide literature, read with skill and intelligence. a great read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • mr david curran
  • 09-25-20

Funny Russian Satire

A con man wanders from house to house with a get rich quick scheme. The landowners he meets represent various Russian stereotypes.
The narration on this book is absolutely brilliant.

1 person found this helpful

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  • roxana tilca
  • 04-13-20

150 years later and the world looks the same

Great book! I highly recommend it. It's impressive how little we have changed in the last 150 years. I was impressed by how well, with such subtle details and very fine irony, Gogol described the human nature.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SARDAN
  • 07-01-22

Excellent narrator

First class performance by the narrator really enhanced the story. Sold on listening to more Gogol

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tone
  • 05-21-22

Unrewarding confusing novel

Disappointing.
it starts out interesting with the crafty scheme the protagonist runs and the introduction to interesting characters that he tried to fleece.
A somewhat Dickensian style


unfortunately it doesn't go anywhere and as the novel "progresses" the story becomes messy, the plot gets derailed by too many tedious side stories, tedious characters and irritating musings and irrelevant motivations.
I kept shouting " for God's sake man, get back to the plot"

The reader is left unfulfilled possibly frustrated.

A national emblem in Russia but almost unfathomable by non Russians and much lost in translation.

No where near as good as Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.

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  • Leona Merclova
  • 01-14-22

Absolutely fantastic!

The best audiobook I've listened to, along with The Pickwick's Papers read by Rory Kinnear. The Dead Souls are fantastically written,just like everything by Gogol, and the narrator brought it to life in absolutely adorable and matsterful feat of storytelling. I'm now going to download other books read by him, UPON MY SOUL!

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  • Reluctant Sceptic
  • 12-03-21

Interesting insight and wonderful narration.

Interesting listen to gain an insight into Russian society in the 1850’s (setting aside the writings other interpretations). Though from around half way through my attention began to drift. It may be helpful to read a synopsis of Gogol before embarking on the book to avert disappointment at the ending.

Nickolas Boulton’s narration is brilliant in itself and projects the characters wonderfully.