tals. In fact, English novelists are, as a rule, as much superior to their French brethren in knowledge of life as they fall below them in artistic qualities. It is to Russia rather thau to France that we must look for a true realistic school. Of Tolstoy beyond all novelists it may be said that his art is like life itself; no imaginative writer, except Shakespeare, has ever studied human nature under more varied aspects or with more steadfast impartiality than Turgéniev; and such bias as exists in his writings is due to the inherent melancholy of his temperament and not to any preconceived theories of life. But it is of Gogol, the founder of the school, that I wish now to speak, of Gogol, whom Turgéniev called "the master of us all."

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CURIOUSLY enough in the very country where realism in fiction has most assumed the proportions of a cult, its high-priests, with the exception of Balzac, have shown no great capacity for an impartial observation of life. Even Balzac, with his magnificent pretensions to completeness, saw life through a glass that was somewhat darkened. Of Stendhal, who is reckoned as the joint founder of the school, even his ardent admirer, M. Zola, says that his greatness consists in his having introduced the note of realism into seven or eight scenes. Flaubert, it is true, wrote a great realistic novel, but his realism was rather in his artistic method than in his view of life, and the romanticism which was always in his heart betrayed itself by a passion for the abnormal. Guy de Maupassant, Flaubert's spiritual descendant, was a great artist, a consummate writer of short tales, but as an observer of life he was about as impartial as an umpire who could see only one wicket and gave every appeal against the batsman on principle. Of M. Zola's claims to be a realist it is unnecessary to speak; the world is rapidly finding out that his powers are quite other than he himself supposes. He has imagination, he has epic breadth and lyrical inspiration, he can stir our passions and move our feelings; but his knowledge of human nature is meagre and fragmentary, his passion for the abnormal almost grotesque, and his method, admirable when he is dealing with broad effects, in its treatment of details has all the unfaithfulness of a photographic camera. After all, in spite of the pæan with which twenty years ago this writer celebrated the coming triumph of natu- | entirely himself, and organized a theralism as the art of the future, his countrymen have singularly falsified his predictions. Indeed the whole literary history of France would seem to show that the French care more for originality and artistic workmanship than for scientific truth. It is Pierre His humor and love of fun made him Loti who is received among the immor- a general favorite. In 1828 he gradu

Nikolai Vasilievitch Gogol was born in the year 1809 at Sorochintsi, in the province of Poltava, in Little Russia. His father, who appears to have been a man of fair position and fortune, was fond of literature and an excellent raconteur. He was also given to private theatricals, and wrote several plays which were acted on the family stage. There was also a grandfather, who was a mine of stories, not only of warlike exploits, but of devils and witches and all the weird lore which played so prominent a part in the Little-Russian world. Nurtured on such fare as this, it was no wonder that the young Nikolai grew up to be a story-teller. At the age of twelve he was sent to school at a large gymnasium at Nyezhin, a town in the neighboring province of Chernigov.

The ordinary studies of the place made little impression on him; he disliked mathematics, and had no taste for languages. But he read voraciously, started a manuscript journal, which he called the Star, and wrote

atre and a library for the students. As librarian he made the admirable rule, more needed in a Russian school even than in an English one, that no one might read a book without wrapping his fingers in paper.

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ated, and in the following year he went | At first sight the majority of these to St. Petersburg with all the hopes of tales seem to be purely romantic in an ambitious young man who first sets type, the supernatural element playing foot in the capital of his country. The a large part in them. In "A Terrible usual period of disillusion followed, and Revenge,' a Cossack story, it runs it was only after a year's waiting that utterly riot. But in the others we find he obtained a humble clerkship in a behind the naïve hocus-pocus of devils government office, where he kept his and witches a carefully drawn backchief's pens and papers in order and ground of Little-Russian life; indeed stored up some experiences which he the supernatural element itself is only afterwards reproduced in his stories. an additional trait of national character. His literary efforts were equally unsuc- Very noticeable are the magnificent cessful. Romanticism was the order of descriptions of scenery, true lyrical the day; Pushkin, the leader of Rus- outbursts, which testify to the writer's sian literature, had some years before passionate love for his native land. published his Byronic poem of "One- The most celebrated are that of the gin," and was now writing prose ro- Duieper in "A Terrible Revenge," mance under the influence of Scott. that of the Ukraine night in "The So Gogol, an ardent admirer of Push- May Night," and that of a hot sumkin, produced works of an ultra-roman-mer's day at the beginning of "The tic type. A severe criticism of one of Fair at Sorochintsi." One of the stothem opened his eyes, and led him ries, "Ivan Feodorovitch Sponka and to look for inspiration elsewhere than his Aunt," 2 stands by itself. The suto his own unaided imagination. As pernatural element is entirely absent; many beginners have done before him, it is a purely realistic picture of Rushe found it in his native land. With sian country life, and though there is the help of his own recollections of his as little attempt at a plot as there is father's and grandfather's stories, and in its companions, the characters are of such printed legends as he could drawn with great care and incision. procure through his friends, he wrote Sponka is one of those negative, nonseveral tales, the scene of which is descript, unheroical heroes in whom laid in Little Russia, in the neighbor- Gogol delights, but the aunt is a nothood of his own home. After appear-able woman, of marked energy aud ing in the St. Petersburg journals, originality. where they attracted considerable at- The publication of these stories tention, they were collected under the brought their author into repute, and it title of 66 Evenings at a Farm near was partly on the strength of them that Dikanka," and published in two parts; he was appointed professor of medithe first in 1831 and the second in 1832. æval history in the University of St. Each part contains four tales; the first, Petersburg. His first lecture was a "The May Night," ""St. John's Eve," great success; but, except on one other "The Fair at Sorochintsi," and "The occasion, when Pushkin and another Missing Paper; "the second, "Christ- well-known man of letters were pres mas Eve," "A Terrible Revenge," ent, he was dry, tedious, and desultory. "Ivan Feodorovitch Sponka and his He never lectured for more than twenty Aunt," and "An Enchanted Spot."1 minutes, and frequently did not appear 1 "St. John's Eve" has been translated into at all. His class, says Turgéniev, who English by Isabel F. Hapgood, in a volume bearing belonged to it, were persuaded of two that name, which also contains "Old-fashioned things one that he knew nothing, Farmers," "How the Two Ivans Quarrelled," about history, and the other that he had no connection with the author of

"The Portrait," and "The Clock," on the whole a good representative selection of Gogol's short tales. An English translation of "Christmas Eve" will be found in "Cossack Tales," by G. Tolstoy. Others of the "Dikanka" tales have been translated into German in four volumes of the Reclam collection, entitled "Fantasien und

Geschichten." Of "The Fair at Sorochintsi" I only know an Italian translation.

2 Translated into German both in the Spemann and the Reclam collections.

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sky without one gleam of light! It is a dull world, gentlemen."

the " Evenings at a Farm near Dikanka." However, in less than a year he resigned, and devoted himself exclu- "Vyi " " is a story of the supernatusively to literature. In the same year, ral, after the manuer of the earlier 1835, he published his next work, called volumes. The remaining story, "TaMirgorod," after a village in the gov- ras Bulba,1 which was republished ernment of Poltava. It is divided into separately in a developed form, is Gotwo parts, each containing two tales, gol's first attempt at something more the first, "Taras Bulba" and "Pro- ambitious than a short tale. The prietors of the Olden Time," and the outcome of his grandfather's stories second “Vyi" and "The Story of how and of his own studies in Little-RusIvan Nikiforovitch and Ivan Ivano- sian history and folk-lore, it is a vitch Quarrelled." "Proprietors of striking picture of the life of the Zathe Olden Time" is a masterpiece of porozhian Cossacks in the sixteenth its kind. It is a simple sketch of an old century. Readers of it have comcouple -a sort of Philemon and Bau- plained of its too-palpable imitations cis - who live in a country house far of Homer; but of Homer Gogol knew from the world, with no ideas beyond little or nothing, and the apparent eating and drinking and loving one an- Homeric reminiscences are due partly other, and showing hospitality to to the folk-songs which form the basis chance guests. of much of his narrative, and partly to the naïve freshness of his genius, with its natural capacity for vivid and soulstirring narrative. Truly has the book been called the Little-Russian epic. Though in many respects it differs widely in manner from the works of our own great epic novelist, it recalls him in the vigor and color of the de

"The Story of how Ivan Nikiforovitch and Ivan Ivanovitch Quarrelled" is almost as admirable a picture of town life as the other is of country life. It has more movement than its companions, and there is some attempt at a story. Ivan Ivanovitch and Ivan Nikiforovitch were dear friends, till one day Ivan Nikiforovitch called Ivan | scriptions and the rapid movement of Ivanovitch a gander, and they went to the narrative. Taras Bulba himself is law, but there were many delays, and cast in a heroic mould. His manners the case was never decided. This is are barbarous, even to ferocity, but by all the story; but it is admirably told. | his love for his country, his devotion The tone is more comic than in the to his comrades, and his heroic death, country idyll, the irony is more pro- he compels our sympathy and admiranounced, and, though it is perfectly tion. A romantic love-story serves like good-natured, it has a spice of malice a thread of gold to relieve the deep which reminds one of La Fontaine. hues of the main texture. But let The comic effect is often heightened readers taste and judge for themselves. by the grave, matter-of-fact air with which the most absurd things are said.

In the same year as "Mirgorod" was also published a volume called "AraMost effective, too, is the adoption besques," containing, amongst other of an intimate button-holing tone miscellaneous pieces, four stories of no which, by means of skilful little great merit. "Nevski Prospect " opens touches, helps to create the illusion with a masterly description of the street that the narrator is telling something from which it takes its name. "The that he actually saw. Finally, it should Portrait" is a fantastic tale, in the be noticed that as well as the story last manner of Hoffmann, which promises mentioned, it concludes in a somewhat well at the outset, but dies away to melancholy key, and that the more nothing. It is chiefly noticeable for laughable story is at bottom the sadder the absence of the fun and kindly irony of the two; for the years roll on and which had hitherto distinguished Gothe two old friends are never reconciled. "Monotonous rain; a tearful

1 Translated by Isabel F. Hapgood.



gol's humor.
Madman" has plenty of fun on the
surface, but it is a gloomy tragedy at
bottom, for it is the self diagnosis, in
the shape of a diary, of the growing
madness of a
humble government
clerk. There is something, no doubt,
of personal recollection in the story,
and, alas! something of prophecy. In
the following year (1836) Gogol pro-
duced two short stories, "A Nose "1
and "The Calash," 2 both sharp satires
in the guise of high comedy, the one
of St. Petersburg, the other of proviu-
cial life. It is this vein of humor, this
blending of laughter and irony, which
appears fully developed in his well-
known play, "The Inspector," which
he completed and produced on the
stage in the same year (1836). It is
the one of his writings which is best
known in this country, for it has been
translated into French by Prosper
Merimée, and twice quite recently into
English. The plot is extremely sim-
ple. A provincial town, in which the
officials are steeped in corruption, is
thrown into consternation by a report
that an inspector (revizor) is on his
way from St. Petersburg to make a
searching investigation into their con-
duct. Then it is rumored that he is
actually come, and is stopping at the
hotel. At once the mayor hurries off
to pay court to him. The supposed
inspector, however, is a young gov-
ernment clerk, who is travelling in
the province, and having lost all his
money at cards, is waiting for fresh
supplies from his father, and mean-
while being unable to pay his hotel bill
is treated by the landlord with con-
tumely. Under these circumstances
the mayor's visit alarms him consider-
ably; but when he finds that his ex-
planations are misunderstood, and that
even his frank avowal that he has not
a sou only produces the offer of a loan,
he accepts the situation, and plays the
part of inspector malgré lui with infinite

"The Memoirs of a | zest. He borrows money from every-
body, flirts with the mayor's wife, aud
proposes for the hand of his daughter,
while he exhibits astonishing feats in
that art of gratuitous lying in which
Russians are such adepts. The play
ends with his hurried departure, and
the arrival of the real revizor.
simplicity of the plot has provoked a
smile from more than one countryman
of Scribe and Sardou, but the plot is a
mere peg on which to hang a scathing
satire on the corruption of Russian offi-
cial life. A rollicking farce on the sur-
face, at the bottom it is bitter, serious
truth. The Czar Nicholas is said to
have sent for the author, after the first
performance, to the royal box. "I
have never laughed so much as I have
done this evening," said the czar.
confess, sire," replied Gogol, "that I
had a different object in view."
play is still often given on the Russian
stage, and the public still laughs, and
the Augeau stables of Russian official
life remain uncleansed.

1 Translated into German in both the Spemann and the Reclam collections.

2 In Vizetelly's Russian novels.

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But though St. Petersburg, as it was bound to do, laughed with the czar, it was none the less angry. Gogol was discouraged. "Now I see," he wrote to a friend, "what it means to be a writer of comedy. The least spark of truth, and all are against you,- not one man, but all classes. Imagine what it would have been if I had described St. Petersburg life, which I know even better than provincial life." As he wrote to another friend, he was no longer the same mau after the production of "The Inspector." nervous malady and the hypochondriasis from which he afterwards suffered so cruelly had begun to torment him. He left Russia in 1836, and after trav elling for some time over Europe settled in Rome. During this period he was occupied with the composition of his longest and most elaborate work. It was completed in 1840, and appeared in 1842 under the strange title of "Dead Souls," a title which needs some explanation. Before the emanci



3 "L'Inspecteur Général," in the same volume pation of the serfs, real estate in Russia

of Merimée's works as "Les Deux Heritages;

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was valued and taxed according to

by Hart-Davies, 1891, by A. A. Sykes, 1892 (best). the number of male serfs or "souls"

(dushi) that the owner possessed; and, | chests with money. When she wishes as a census was only taken at long in- Chichikov good-night she says, "Pertervals, he continued to be rated for haps you are used to having some one the serfs who had died since the last to scratch the soles of your feet; my census, and whose names still appeared dear husband could never go to sleep on the schedule of his property. The without it." Nosdrev's weaknesses hero of Gogol's novel conceived the were less amiable. He had a passion brilliant idea of begging or buying a for play and invariably cheated; but large number of these "dead souls" though he was often found out and from the owners, and then on the se- thrashed, the men whom he had curity of the imaginary estate which cheated played with him again. This, they would represent borrowing a large Gogol tells us, is peculiar to Russia. sum of money from the State. This He was also a tremendous liar, lying framework, Gogol tells us, had, like for pure pleasure, was much addicted that of "The Inspector," been sug- to practical jokes, and was always gested to him by Pushkin, and as in wanting to swop something. the former case was merely a pretext The last visit is to Plushkin, the for an elaborate description of Russian miser, perhaps the best drawn charlife and society. But the humor is acter in the book. He had not always more subtle, the range of observation been a wretched old miser; when his wider, and the characters far more wife and children were alive he was carefully drawn. The hero, Chichikov, only what is known as a careful mana custom-house officer who had been ager. His gratitude to Chichikov for dismissed for embezzlement, is de- relieving him of his dead souls is so scribed chiefly in negative terms. He great that he determines to give him a was neither stout nor thin, old or clock which won't go. But on second young; he had the manners of a man thoughts he will leave it him in his will of the world, he was rude only to his instead. Besides the various proprieinferiors; to those from whom he had tors there are several other characters anything to gain he was exquisitely which are drawn with equal care, notapolite. At whist he never said "You bly Petrouchka, Chichikov's valet, and played such-and-such a card," but, Selifan, his coachman, a delightful per"You were good enough to play such-son who is always talking to his horses. and-such a card," and "I have the Even the horses have their distinctive honor to take your seven," and so characteristics. forth.

The various proprietors whom Chichikov visits in the course of his strange quest are drawn with masterly skill.

It is said that Pushkin, at a private reading by Gogol of part of his work, involuntarily exclaimed, "My God! what a sad country Russia is!" That is the impression which every one must Manilov belonged to that class of people feel after reading the book. And that which do not belong to any class, which the picture is on the whole a true one are neither fish nor fowl. . Everybody Gogol's countrymen themselves admit. has a hobby of some sort, but Manilov had" He revealed us to ourselves," they none. Though he and his wife had been married eight years, they often came to one another with a little bit of apple or a bonbon, and said in the tenderest accents, "Open your little mouth, my pet, and let me pop this morsel in."

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The widow Korobochka, we are told, was one of those little gentlewomen who are always complaining of the failure of the crops and of hard times and yet all the while are filling their

say. But, true or not, it was received at the time with a storm of disapprobation; the plain speaking was as little relished as it had been in "The Inspector." Gogol in vain implored his critics to wait for the continuation; for the "poem," as he called it, was to have three parts. But this intention was only partially fulfilled. Though he lived ten years longer, the best part of his life was over. He became more

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