Nikolai Gogol_wl (1)Nikolai Gogol gained popular success with works such as “The Government Inspector,” “The Nose,” “The Overcoat” and the first part of “Dead Souls.” This was a man who wrote the first works of Russian surrealism and the grotesque and was so important to the future of Russian literature that there is a quote, which some attribute to Dostoyevsky and others to Turgenev,  stating, “We all came out of Gogol’s overcoat.” Despite his success, Gogol had unfulfilled literary ambitions. He was deeply drawn to the land of the great Dante and the literary legacy of the Renaissance, and tried to create his own “Divine Comedy.” Gogol decided to fast for Maslenitsa, a week-long feast before Orthodox Lent where people usually gorge themselves before giving up dairy products. When he broke the fast his physical and mental state deteriorated so severely that his doctors saw no choice but to prescribe leeches and boiling baths in an attempt to snap him out of it. The treatment was a stunning failure, and the writer died on February 21, 1852, at the age of 42.

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