`Rare Gogol manuscript` in U.S. may be copy - Russian expert
The five chapters of the second volume of Gogol`s Dead Souls that a U.S. businessman says are in his possession could be a copy made after the writer`s death, a Russian academic said on Wednesday.
Florida businessman Timur Abdullaev announced earlier on Wednesday that he owned five chapters of the book, the completed manuscript of which Gogol burnt before his death in 1852 at the age of 42. He said he was making the announcement in connection with the 200th anniversary of the writer`s birth on April 1.
The first four chapters of the book plus a later chapter were published in 1855 from copies of surviving drafts of Dead Souls II.
"It`s possible that this is a copy of the surviving five chapters of the second volume of Dead Souls," Russian academic and Gogol expert Yury Mann told RIA Novosti. "Several weeks after the death of the writer in 1852, his cupboard was opened and a number of works were found... including five chapters of the second volume of Dead Souls."
These five chapters were then prepared for publication, and a number of copies were made by employees of the publishing house that released the book.
Mann said some of these copies also existed in Russia. "I`ve worked with them... All of these copies can be traced to the original, but the original is a completely different matter."
Dead Souls (1842) was, in the words of the writer, an "epic poem in prose," and was reportedly intended as the first part of a trilogy. The book`s title comes from the practice of counting the "souls" of serfs in property registers, and the book contains gross caricatures of some of the worst elements of Russian life at the time.