Digression in Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls Essay

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Nikolai Gogol's masterpiece novel, Dead Souls, remains faithful to the Gogolian tradition in terms of absurdity, lavish detail, and abundant digressions. Although these three literary techniques coexist, interact, and augment each other-the focus of this analysis is to examine how Gogol (or the narrator) deviates from the plotline, the significance of it, and what aesthetic purpose comes from the digression.

Although Gogol's marriage to elaboration is at times strenuous-in fact, it is the underlying reason why impatient readers dislike his work-it serves as a function of tone. The author's excruciating amount of detail is a quirk of the narrator. "They turn up when least expected, and by means of their complete departure from the
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In this example, Gogol also seems to make a satirical statement about social class. Clearly, the young women are very close friends, yet there are expected to break their friendship upon learning the inequity of their father's social and financial situation.

Setchkarev comments on Gogol's digression as an aesthetic technique rather than as fuel for the plotline.
"It is evident that Gogol's main concern is not to use style to emphasize the important elements, since at times the most significant things are tossed off in passing as ironic asides, while on the other hand, magnificently constructed, gradually intensified sentences sometimes lead in the end to the statement of something meaningless (187)."

Although there are many excellent examples of "meaningless" digressions throughout Dead Souls, an interesting one can be found in Chapter Seven. The narrator imagines an elaborate, hypothetical scene between the reader (as a runaway serf) and a captain.

"'And why did you steal that soldier's coat?' the captain demands, cursing you again. 'And the trunk with copper coins you took from the priest?' 'I never did it,' you say, unmoved, I have never been mixed up with stealing.'...'Get the foot-stocks on him and off with him to jail!' 'As you please, sir, with pleasure,' you reply. And then, pulling out a snuff-box, you hand it round amicably to the two veterans who are busy hammering on your stocks, and you enquire of them whether they have
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