This biography begins with
Gogol's death and ends with his birth, an inverted structure typical of
both Gogol and Nabokov. The biographer proceeds to establish the
relationship between Gogol and his novels, especially with regard to
"nose-consciousness", a peculiar feature of Russian life and letters,
which finds its apotheosis in Gogol's own life and prose. There are more
expressions and proverbs concerning the nose in Russian than in any
other language in the world. Nabokov's style in this biography is comic,
but as always leads to serious issues-in this case, an appreciation
of the distinctive "sense of the physical" inherent in Gogol's work.
Nabokov describes how Gogol's life and literature mingled, and explains
the structure and style of Gogol's prose in terms of the novelist's
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), one of the 20th century's greatest writers in both Russian and English, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and spent his adult life in Germany, France, the United States, and Switzerland. In addition to his literary work, he was a passionate lepidopterist and chess player. His books include Lolita, Pale Fire, The Real Light of Sebastian Knight, Laughter in the Dark, and many more.