by Nikolai Gogol · read May 11, 2022
This novel started slow and then really grew on me. It’s unusual to find books which are so consistently amusing — every chapter had an incident, a description, or a turn of phrase that I enjoyed. Tchitchikov was a curious main character: almost amorphous, taking whatever shape he needed to be in the moment, compared to his deliberately idiosyncratic counterparts. I especially liked the way Gogol played on the distinction between real/unreal, dead/alive, and realistic/absurd, and the occasional authorial comments on literature and Russian culture.
Like a man half awake he wandered aimlessly about the town, unable to decide whether he had gone out of his mind or the officials had gone out of theirs, or whether it was all a dream or whether it was a reality more absurd than any dream.