During the period of working on “Dead Souls” Gogol called his work then “agenda”, “novel”, “poem”. Having finally defined the genre of “Dead Souls” as a poem, the writer wanted to thereby emphasize the main features of his work: its epicness, broad generalizations, and deep lyricism.
It was the epic that Gogol considered the most complete and multifaceted narrative genre capable of encompassing an entire era. The genre of the novel appeared to him narrower and more enclosed within a certain space. “Dead Souls”, according to his design, could not be called an epic or a novel. However, Gogol believed that there was a new type of works in his contemporary literature, a kind of connecting link between novel and epic. Wanting to attribute “Dead Souls” to the so-called “lesser genera of epic”, he also called his work a poem.
At the same time, Gogol did not associate the genre of the poem with the glorification of the existing world order. On the contrary, he filled his poem with a bountiful pathos, scouting in it the vices of Russian life.
Strange and ambiguous looks the plot of the poem, because it is devoted to buying and selling dead souls. However, he allowed the author not only to show the inner world of his characters, but also to give a complete and comprehensive characterization of the era.
Composition of the poem
In terms of compositional construction, the poem can be divided into three parts. In the first one, the reader is introduced to the landlords. The author devoted a separate chapter to each of them. At the same time, the sequence of chapters is structured so that during the transition to the next character there is an amplification of negative qualities.
In the second part a broad characteristic of the life of the provincial city is given. The main place here is given to the image of the mores of the official environment.
The third part tells the story of life of the protagonist of the poem — Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov. If at the beginning of Chichikov’s work seems a mystery, then here the author reveals his true appearance, which was very unsightly.
Another of the features of the work, bringing it closer to the genre of the poem, is numerous lyrical digressions, the most beautiful of which are the lines about the Russian expanses and about the bird-three. In them, after the painted grim picture of Russian reality, the author expresses faith in the great future of his native country.
The true scale of Gogol’s work, the epicness of the presentation and the deep lyricism allow the writer to understand the rightness of the writer who called “Dead Souls” a poem.