So you want to read the "Great Books" but can't seem to find the time to read the massive tomes such as War and Peace or maybe you think they will be too difficult to read. Whatever your reason, welcome to some shorter books that still give you the taste of the "Great Books" without the pressure. We will have a shorter classic book every other month to wet our appetites. The first book we are going to read is Nikolay Gogol's Dead Souls that provides a fascinating and interesting guide to Russia in the 1830s that is smaller in scope than Tolstoy's War and Peace but still presents itself as a hybrid between an epic poem and a novel.
Since its publication in 1842, Dead Souls has been celebrated as a supremely realistic portrait of provincial Russian life and as a splendidly exaggerated tale; as a paean to the Russian spirit and as a remorseless satire of imperial Russian venality, vulgarity, and pomp. As Gogol's wily antihero, Chichikov, combs the back country wheeling and dealing for "dead souls"--deceased serfs who still represent money to anyone sharp enough to trade in them--we are introduced to a Dickensian cast of peasants, landowners, and conniving petty officials, few of whom can resist the seductive illogic of Chichikov's proposition.