Illuminates the Russian writer's thoughts on madness, bureaucracy, and illusion in these five tales.
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Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-1852), although Russian, was born in the village of Sorochyntsi in the Poltava Oblast province of central Ukraine. He was never accepted by the Russian public as being completely Russian in his thinking and political ideology, and indeed he was not. Gogol's Ukrainian upbringing is most evident in his early works which draw heavily from Ukrainian culture and folk history. His later writing was more subversive, openly satirizing the corruption he saw rampant throughout Russia's empire. Gogol was homosexual. At age seventeen he wrote passionate letters to a friend who, being two years older, had graduated before Gogol, leaving him bereft. Gogol eventually exiled himself from Russia, living in Rome. It was here that he enjoyed at least one mutual love affair with a man, but his lover died within a year of their meeting. Two years later Gogol fell in love with the poet Nikolai Yazykov and penned love letters to him, but his efforts came to nothing. Gogol died in Moscow and was buried at Davilov Monastery. His last words were placed on his tombstone: "And I shall laugh my bitter laugh." When Soviet authorities decided to demolish the monastery in 1931 and transfer Gogol's remains, it was discovered his body had been buried lying face down, leading some to wonder if he had been buried alive.
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