"Nobody will solve me completely": 5 biggest mysteries of Nikolai Gogol
"Nobody will solve me completely": 5 biggest mysteries of Nikolai Gogol
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F. Moller. Portrait of N.V. Gogol, 1841. Fragment

April 1 marks 207 years from the date of birth Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol - a writer whose name is associated with almost the largest number of mysteries in the history of Russian literature. Is it true that Gogol suffered from mental illness and phobias, did not show interest in women, burned the 2nd volume of Dead Souls and was buried alive?

F. Moller. Portrait of N.V. Gogol, 1840

Obsessions, a tendency to depressive states, strange behavior and phobias of Gogol made people talk about the presence of mental disorders. Diagnoses ranged from "recurrent melancholy" and "early dementia" to schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis. Numerous symptoms did not fit into the picture of one disease. In addition, the writer retained clarity of thought until the end of his days, he did not have structural disturbances in thinking. Periodically, he had strange states of "fading" when he withdrawn into himself and did not react to those around him. The question of making an accurate diagnosis is still open.

A. Ivanov. Portrait of N.V. Gogol, 1841

On the night of February 12, 1852, 10 days before the writer's death, an event happened that still remains a mystery to many fans of Gogol's work. The writer prayed until 3 o'clock in the morning, after which he took out several papers from the portfolio, and ordered to burn the rest of the contents. After that he returned to bed and sobbed until morning. It is believed that it was on that night that he burned the second volume of Dead Souls. However, it is still not known exactly what was actually burned in the fireplace.

K. Mather. Portrait of N. Gogol, 1841

There were many rumors about Gogol's sexual predilections. Traditionally, it is believed that he either refused to have physical contact with women altogether, or they were of an episodic nature. The ascetic lifestyle of the writer and the lack of sexual attraction to women gave rise to the myth of the writer's unconventional orientation. American literary critic S. Karlinsky wrote about Gogol's "oppressed homosexuality", which implies "suppression of emotional attraction to members of the same sex and aversion to physical or emotional contact with women."

N.V. Gogol. Lithograph by E. Dmitriev-Mamonov, 1840s

However, these assumptions did not find any evidence and remained at the level of hypotheses. The name of only one woman for whom Gogol had romantic feelings and even wanted to marry her is known - this is Anna Villegorskaya. But their relationship was exclusively platonic.

Unknown artist. Portrait of Anna Mikhailovna Villegorskaya

In 1836 Gogol left for Europe, where he spent 10 years intermittently. Some biographers are sure that he suffered from persecution mania. In addition, the writer considered himself terminally ill and constantly felt the need for treatment. At the same time, doctors did not find any serious problems in him, except for hypochondria.

F. Moller. Portrait of N.V. Gogol, 1841

Hypochondria and the fear of being buried alive forced Gogol to write his will at 39: “Please do not bury me until signs of decay appear. I mention this because during my illness they find moments of vital numbness on me, my heart and pulse stop beating …”.

F. Moller. Portrait of N. V. Gogol, 1840

A large number of myths are also associated with the death of Gogol. During the reburial of the writer, according to some evidence, his skull was turned to the side. This made them say that he was indeed buried alive. However, later another explanation was found: the side boards of the coffin were the first to rot, the lid fell under the weight of the soil and pressed on the head, and it turned to one side. There was another version: supposedly there was no skull in the grave at all.

I. Repin. Self-immolation of Gogol, 1909

The problem is that the deed of exhumation was not drawn up, and eyewitness accounts vary. The sculptor N. Ramazanov, who made Gogol's death mask, claims that there were signs of decomposition on the body, moreover, a person who is in a lethargic sleep cannot but react to the high temperature of alabaster. The version of being buried alive turned out to be another myth.

Gogol's death mask

There were also many rumors about the reasons for Gogol's death: Is it true that the author of Dead Souls died of poisoning?

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