Saturday, January 21, 2006

Russian: Turgenev’s Obituary to Gogol

In 1852, between Turgenev's Sketches from a Hunter's Album and his first important novels, he wrote his now notorious obtiuary to his idol Gogol in the St. Petersburg Gazette. The key passage reads:
"Gogol is dead!...what Russian heart is not shaken by those three words?...He is gone, that man whom we now have the right, the bitter right given to us by death, to call great."

The censor of St. Petersburg did not approve of this idolatry and banned its publication, but Turgenev managed to fool the Moscow censor into printing it. These underhanded tactics landed the young writer in prison for a month, and he was forced into exile at his estate for nearly two years.

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