Diary of a Madman and The Story of the Quarrel between Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan Nikiforovich appeared in 1934, The Nose in 1836, and The Overcoat in 1842. Gogol also wrote the play The Inspector (1836), Dead Souls (1842), and several moralizing essays defending the Tsarist regime, to the horror of his liberal and radical friends.
In his later life Gogol came under influence of a fanatical priest, Father Konstantinovskii. He had refused to take any food and various remedies were employed to make him eat - spirits were poured over his head, hot loaves applied to his person and leeches attached to his nose. After 10 days he died in madness.
Great Russian novelist, dramatist, satirist, founder of the so-called critical realism in Russian literature, best-known for his novel MERTVYE DUSHI I-II (1842, Dead Souls). Gogol's prose is characterized by imaginative power and linguistic playfulness. As an exposer of grotesque in human nature, Gogol could be called the Hieronymus Bosch of Russian literature.
In these tales, Gogol renounced the Ukrainian background and the supernatural forces of his earlier work and launched two myths that dominated Russian literature through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the image of St. Petersburg as a ghostly, unreal, and fantastic place (later to be found in the novels of Feodor Dostoevsky and the poetry of Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, and Osip Mandelstam) and the great myth of a single, powerless man face to face with the impersonal, inhuman metropolis, a theme that Honoré de Balzac and Charles Dickens were independently developing at the same time as Gogol.
Although his early works were heavily influenced by his Ukrainian heritage and upbringing, Gogol wrote in Russian and his works belong to the tradition of Russian literature. The novel Dead Souls (1842), the play Revizor (1836, 1842), and the short stories The Overcoat (1842) and The Nose (1835/36) count among his masterpieces. His works are highly allegorical and, especially in the case of his short stories like The Overcoat and The Nose, are early examples of Magical Realism with Surrealist influences.
Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka, his book of short stories (all based on Ukrainian life), gained critical acclaim and he was taken under the wing of the mighty poet Pushkin. Though very different in style, he and Gogol were a revolution in Russia, being the first to use everyday speech in literature and both having a passionate social conscience.
Under-awed by the legendary capital (in a letter to his mother he described it as a place where ‘people seem more dead than alive’ and complained endlessly about the air pressure, which he believed caused illness), Gogol was nevertheless inspired by St Petersburg to write a number of absurdist stories, collectively known as The Petersburg Tales and generally recognised as being the zenith of his creativity.
For Gogol, the (usually) demonic intervention into ordinary reality followed distinct patterns based on the location of the tale. Those set in the vast Russian countryside treated the Devil as a menacing though still ordinary part of life, but in that rural setting the Devil still had a playful as well as horrific quality. He could be bargained with and occasionally bested, and, while the Devil was dangerous, the blows he struck were rarely altogether fatal. Furthermore, the Devil could be seen; his dis- guises were rarely sufficient to fool the peasants and Cossacks who were always on the alert for him. In St. Petersburg, the Devil was an invisible and brooding presence who aimed to seduce souls to evil and often succeeded.
Gogol, more than anyone else, was responsible for the breakup of classical culture in Russia. He did not do it by himself - no artist ever does - but his work had the authority to turn others away from the older models to new forms and subjects. In his task of destruction, however, he was highly dialectical, taking from the past what he could use but manipulating it is such a way as to turn it on its head. HIs characters are relations, however distant, of traditional comic figures of the Russian and European stage.
The year 1834 is transformed into Gogol's talent and inspiration, which i in turn changed into the ultimate object of his innermost desire: a male lover and friend, This desire and the concomitant revulsion against marriage and other forms of sexual involvement with women, toward which the entire weight of tradition and social custom were pushing him, are what can be termed the nerve center of Gogol's biography and of much of his creative achievement.
…one fact is undeniable: Gogol exerted an immense influence on the whole course of Russian literature and continues to do so to the present day. There is scarcely a later Russian writer who did not succumb in some measure to his magic, and in many cases (Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Ilf and Petrov) his influence was crucial. In this sense alone, to call Gogol the 'father of Russian prose fiction' is eminently justifiable.
Gogol's achievement was as nearly as possible to demonstrate the power of a medium without a message: to offer a literary prose as pure potential and to bring together in the process a new audience for it. His best works are all self-reflexive and ultimately "about" the nature of their own literary being. That is the great Gogolian theme - the possibility of literature, the freedom and power of writing to affirm its own material existence in the very registering of absences.
Critical writing on Gogol, in Russian and abroad, has moved in essentially four directions. One considers an aspect, such as the grotesque, or Ukrainian elements, or rhetorical devices, and following it throughout. Another discovers a key to everything in a single theme, like demonism, or in a dominant psychological trait, like homosexuality. A third sees Gogol as a reflection of certain social and political issues of his time. The fourth studies specific texts to determine how they work as self-contained verbal entities.