Dead Souls (Russian: Мёртвые души, myortvyje dushi) is a novel by Nikolai Gogol, first published in 1842, and widely regarded as an exemplar of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an "epic poem in prose", and within the book as a "novel in verse". Despite supposedly completing the trilogy's second part, Gogol destroyed it shortly before his death. Although the novel ends in mid-sentence (like Sterne's Sentimental Journey), it is usually regarded as complete in the extant form.
Chichikov in the house of M-me Korobochka.
The structure of the novel follows a circle, as Chichikov visits the estates of landowners living around the capital of a guberniya. Although Gogol aspired to emulate the Odyssey, many critics derive the structure of Dead Souls from the picaresque novels of the 16th and 17th centuries in that it is divided into a series of somewhat disjointed episodes, and the plot concerns a gentrified version of the rascal protagonist of the original picaresques.
Konstantin Aksakov was the first to bring out a detailed juxtaposition of Gogol's and Homer's works: "Gogol's epic revives the ancient Homeric epic; you recognize its character of importance, its artistic merits and the widest scope. When comparing one thing to another, Gogol completely loses himself in the subject, leaving for a time the occasion that gave rise to his comparison; he will talk about it, until the subject is exhausted. Every reader of The Iliad was struck by this device, too." Nabokov also pointed out to the Homeric roots of the complicated absurdist technique of Gogol's comparisons and digressions.
The book is in Russian!