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Nikolai Gogol and the medieval orthodox Slavic world-view
By Philip Harttrup
PhD Dissertation, University of Toronto, 1998
Abstract: This thesis examines Nikolai Gogol’ s creative and publicistic writings in the context of the medieval Orthodox Slavic literary and cultural tradition. Though Gogol wrote his entire corpus during the Romantic period and clearly shared a great deal with the Romantics in both Russia and the West, his thought and writings reveal his strong affinity for the heritage of Kievan Rust and Muscovite Russia. The particular aspects of the pre-Petrine tradition most prevalent in Gogol’s work include the following: the notion of the writerrs role as divinely inspired, the monastic vocation, eschatological thought, aesthetic values, the influence of the demonic, and the ethical matrix of the culture.
While it was once believed that Gogol had undergone a religious crisis, a close examination of his correspondence and creative output shows that his religious and moral views remained relatively constant throughout his life. Indeed, what he says in his early works reappears, only more overtly, in his final book, Selected Passages From Correspondence With Friends, As Gogol adapted and assimilated various aspects of the medieval tradition throughout his writings, Selected Passages may be viewed as the ultimate and most explicit testimony to his medieval world-view.