Gogol: Nevsky Prospect
Nevsky Prospect, published in 1835, is Gogol’s major contribution to the ‘Petersburg’ theme in Russian literature, a theme taken up and developed by Dostoevsky, Blok, Zamiatin and many others. By day, Nevsky Prospect, the capital’s main thoroughfare, is thronged with people from all sections of Petersburg society. After dusk it is the haunt of prostitutes and the Devil holds sway. Gogol’s story, which he eventually includes in the ‘Petersburg’ cycle of tales, is ostensibly two stories in one, linked by the slimmest of threads: the tragic tale of the flippant philanderer Pirogov. In the final paragraphs, another theme emerges: the struggle between Good and Evil or – in Gogol’s terms – between Beauty and the Devil.
Nevsky Prospect epitomizes much of what has come to be termed Gogolian, the inimitable prose style, the love hate relationship with Petersburg, and above all the preoccupation with poshlost (vulgar pretentiousness) in all its manifold forms.
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