FRONT MATTER OF THE BOOK:
The Misadventures of a Purloined Skull
A Gogolian Novel
(With Gogolian Biography Appended)
Series: The Collected Works of U.R. Bowie, Volume Eleven
Ogee Zakamora Publications, 2017
Copyright © 2017 by Robert Lee Bowie
All Rights Reserved
Front Cover Illustration:
N.A. Andreev, Medallion on Enclosure
of Nikolai Gogol’s Grave
(Danilov Monastery, Moscow, 1909)
Cover Design by Daniel Hime
Parts of this book have been workshopped through Gainesville Poets and Writers. Special thanks to my publicist Daniel Hime, who created the beautiful cover design. Also I am grateful to my copy editor D. C. Williams, and to my editor and publisher O.G. Zakamora. Once again Sergei Stadnik has helped me with proofreading the Cyrillic passages and refining my style in Russian. Благодарю!
NOTE ON CALENDARS
During the lifetime of Nikolai Gogol, Russia still operated according to the old Julian calendar, which, in the nineteenth century was twelve days behind the Gregorian calendar, then widely adopted in the countries of Western Europe. The differences can make for confusion. For example, Gogol’s friend, the poet Nikolai Yazykov, died in two different years: in December of 1846 by the Julian calendar, but in January, 1847 by the Gregorian. At the time of Lenin’s Socialist Revolution in 1917 Russia still ran on Julian dates, and, as a result, what the Soviets always referred to as “The Great October Revolution” took place in November.
Gogol, of course, spent much of his later life abroad, living by the Gregorian calendar. In the text of this book dates are given mostly by Gregorian. In instances when the Julian calendar date is used, the initials OS (for Old Style) appear in parentheses.
In Lieu of an Introduction
Biographical One: Freak Shows (Ukraine, 1822)
Chapter One: The Exhumation
Biographical Two: Off to Meet Pushkin (St. Petersburg, Winter, 1829)
Biographical Three: The Hans Fiasco, First Flight (May, 1829)
Chapter Two: Meet Adrian Nule
Biographical Four: The Scrivener/Writer (St. Petersburg, 1829-1831)
Chapter Three: Shoes Run Amuck
Biographical Five: Good Times (St. Petersburg, Moscow,1831-1834)
Chapter Four: How It Began with Nule Biographical Six: Performing (1835-1836) Chapter Five: More Skullduggery
Biographical Seven: Wandering, Borrowing Money (1836-1839)
Chapter Six: Akaky Goes Out Partying
Biographical Eight: In Search of A Living Soul (1839-1842)
The Three-Handed (Moscow, February, 1842)
Buttons (Bad Gastein, Austria, early October, 1842)
Chapter Seven: The Politburo and the Skull
Biographical Nine: Floundering on, Petering out (1842-1845)
Chapter Eight: Nule’s Head Maunders On
Biographical Ten: Final Flight of the Buffleheaded Goo-Goo Bird
Dear Eyes Gone (Moscow, February, 1852)
Chapter Nine: An Eye for an Eye at the Hands of the Head
In Lieu of a Conclusion: Masafuera
If mere creative force is to be the standard of valuation, Gogol is the greatest of Russian writers. In this respect he need hardly fear comparison with Shakespeare, and can boldly stand by the side of Rabelais. Neither Pushkin nor Tolstoy possessed anything like that volcano of imaginative creativeness.
… D.S. Mirsky
Nobody can ever imagine what Gogol was really like. From beginning to end everything about him is incomprehensible. The individual features are blurred, inchoate—they refuse to add up to anything.
… Anna Akhmatova
What are you like? As a person you are secretive, egotistical, arrogant, and mistrustful, a man who sacrifices everything for fame. As a friend what are you like? But then, do you really have any friends?
… Pletnyov letter to Gogol, October, 1844
Дорога, дорога—дорогая дорога—дорога мне дороже всего (The road, the road—the dear road—dearest of all to me is the road).
… Gogol letter to Pogodin, October, 1840
The diver, the seeker for pearls, the man who prefers the monsters of the deep to the sunshades on the beach, will find in “The Overcoat” shadows linking our state of existence to those other states and modes that we dimly apprehend in our rare moments of irrational perception.
… Vladimir Nabokov
In Lieu of an Introduction
This is the story of a head, and the story of the man who lost his head, and the story of what happened to the lost head. We begin with background on the man. In the process of telling the story of the purloined head, we tell—in lieu of a biography—a truncated version of the life of the man. We cut through all the lies and establish the truth.
Adrian Lee Nule, ABD
March 20, 2015