The very idea of the poem "Dead Souls" was suggested to Gogol by Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin. This is mentioned by Gogol himself in his "Author's Confession". While in exile in Kishinev, Pushkin heard the story that fugitive peasants hiding on the outskirts of the Russian Empire often bought the documents of the deceased. Therefore, deaths in Bessarabia were extremely rare, since they were simply not registered. Pushkin worked a little on the plot of the future work, and then offered it to the young writer Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol.
Since the era of Peter the Great, serfs have been periodically audited in Russia. But, they were not carried out often - once every 12-18 years. And if a peasant died, then, until the next revision, he was listed as alive. Accordingly, it could be "bought" and then resold or receive a loan secured by the auditor's soul. It was this loophole in the legislation that the clever Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov decided to use for personal enrichment.
Back in the days of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, banks were created in Russia. The landowner could get a loan in it, using the estate and serfs as collateral. Having driven through the outskirts of the provincial town of NN, Chichikov became the owner of more than 400 serfs, even if they had died by that time. With this amount, he could count on a serious loan.
In the poem "Dead Souls" Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov has the rank of "collegiate counselor". According to the "Table of Ranks" it was a rank of VI class, corresponding to the rank of "colonel" in the army. The collegiate counselor should have been addressed: "Your Excellency." It is not surprising that Pavel Ivanovich was initially given a warm welcome in the provincial town of NN.
On October 7, 1835, Gogol sent a letter to Pushkin informing him that he had begun work on the work. Alexander Sergeevich had less than a year and a half to live, but he managed to hear the first chapters of Dead Souls from the author himself. Pushkin loved to laugh, but after listening to Gogol, he suddenly became gloomy and said: "God, how sad is our Russia."
Gogol began work on the work in Russia, and in the summer of 1836 the writer went abroad. He continued to work on the poem in Switzerland, France, Italy. At the beginning of 1837, the terrible news reached him about the death of Pushkin in a duel. This news shocked the writer, but he continued his work with even greater zeal. It was a kind of tribute to the memory of the great poet, to finish writing a book, the plot of which was suggested by Pushkin.
The work on Dead Souls was completed in the summer of 1841. Gogol returned to Russia, where he began to prepare the manuscript for publication. But, there were problems with censorship. Only in March 1842 censor Alexander Nikitenko authorized the publication of the book, but with certain conditions, the title of the book should be: "The Adventures of Chichikov, or Dead Souls". In addition, the "Tale of Captain Kopeikin" was removed from the work. The name "Dead Souls" was fixed only during the years of Soviet power.
Where is the mysterious city of NN, where the adventurer Chichikov arrived? Perhaps the author did not try to describe any particular city, presenting the whole of Russia in it. But, many researchers are sure that this is Nizhny Novgorod. It is located between Moscow and Kazan, which, in the opinion of the peasants, cannot be reached by the wheel of Chichikov's chaise. One more argument - Selifan is called "Nizhny Novgorod crow" by the oncoming coachman.
Gogol's poem began to be translated into foreign languages during his lifetime. For example, in Leipzig in 1846 "Dead Souls" were published in German, the author of the translation was F. Lebenstein. And in 1849 Dead Souls was translated into Czech. In 2001, the book was translated into Esperanto, an international artificial language.
The filmmakers also paid attention to "Dead Souls". Moreover, the very first film adaptation took place back in the era of world cinema - in 1909. A short film with individual episodes of their poem was directed by Pyotr Ivanovich Chardynin.
Gogol decided not to limit himself to one volume of the poem; for more than ten years he worked on the sequel to Dead Souls. The piece was conceived as a trilogy. But, the third volume was not written, and the second part Nikolai Vasilyevich personally burned during a mental crisis.
The avaricious landowner Plyushkin had a famous namesake - the Pskov merchant Fyodor Mikhailovich Plyushkin. He was one of the largest collectors in Russia. Moreover, he collected everything that was possible: icons, paintings, books, coins, clothes, shoes. After Plyushkin's death, the collection was bought by Nicholas II for 100, 000 rubles, and then transferred in parts to various museums in the country. Many believed that Fyodor Mikhailovich was the prototype of Gogol's Plyushkin. But, this is nothing more than rumors. The future collector and entrepreneur was born in 1837, when Gogol was already working on his poem.