Forged Identities title

Forged Identities, or, Where’s the Art and What’s the Deal in Nikolai Gogol’s ‘Dead Souls’?

Nikolai Gogol’s 1842 novel Dead Souls, arguably the strangest work of Russian literature, was for its author an “epic poem” that would “finally solve the riddle of my existence.”

Join Andrew Reynolds, Associate Professor of Slavic Languages at UW-Madison, for an examination of the various enigmas and paradoxes of Gogol’s life and art, especially various identity crises embodied in the novel: personal identity and national identity; genre identity; the conflicting interpretative traditions spawned by the novel; the tension between Gogol’s comic genius and his tragic obsession to save Russia.

Are Gogol’s characters realistic portraits or false creations arising from his spiritual torments? Is Dead Souls an excoriation of a sad Russia or an affirmation of her special destiny as the speeding troika? Do this Ukrainian-born writer’s works have anything to tell us about Russia’s war against Ukraine or Russian literature’s possible complicity in current horrors? Finally, what might Dead Souls have to say about the way we all live now?

DATE: Wednesday, July 31, 2024
TIME: 7:00 – 8:15 p.m.
LOCATION: Jewish Museum Milwaukee
COST: Members $5 | Nonmembers $10*

*Nonmembers can purchase an add-on admission ticket ($5) to view the exhibit before the program. Add-on admission tickets are valid for the day of the program from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Member admission is always free!

Andrew Reynolds is an Associate Professor of Slavic Languages at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a specialist on the poetry of Osip Mandelstam and Joseph Brodsky and is currently completing books on both of these authors. Educated at the University of Oxford, he was a fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge before joining UW-Madison, where he teaches courses on Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Gogol, among others. He is also a translator of Russian prose, poetry, and opera, and is currently working on an annotated translation of Mandelstam’s Voronezh Notebooks.

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