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First published in 1878 and still widely read The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy was the most influential interpretation of the Italian Renaissance in the 19th century. Burkhardt considered the study of ancient history an intellectual necessity and deals with all aspects of Renaissance society; its painting, sculpture and architecture, and the social institutions of its daily life.
The novel follows Chichikov, an unscrupulous young gentleman of a middle social class who is determined to make his fortune. He plans to buy the title to serfs that have died since the last census. The owners should be agreeable as they are still paying tax on the dead 'souls'. Nabakov described Gogol as a great writer whose prose style combined superb descriptive power with a disregard for novelistic clichés. In this most unusual work Gogol combines devastating satire and beautifully rendered characters to create an enduring masterpiece.
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