In This Review

Nikolai Gogol: Between Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism
Nikolai Gogol: Between Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism
By Edyta M. Bojanowska
Harvard University Press, 2007, 460 pp

Others will have to judge the contribution Bojanowska has made to the literary scholarship on Gogol. For those interested in the hirsute fabric of nineteenth-century Russian nationalism, however, here is a fresh, innovative entry point. In Gogol, Bojanowska argues, all the agitated crosscurrents of the imperial and the national, the cultural and the political, the heartfelt and the calculated washed against one another. Devoted to his Ukrainian cultural roots and uncomfortable in his adopted Russian surroundings, yet eager to be the Russian writer-hero he became and accepting of the imperial-national myth, her Gogol combines the intricate impulses that doubtless pulsed in a fair share of the empire's outer-shell intelligentsia. Although far from the paladin of Russian nationalism that crude Russian and Soviet nationalists made him out to be, Gogol did contribute to Russian nationalism, not least elements of Ukrainian nationalism. In short, he was, to use Bojanowska's word, a "compound" -- until the congealing of a jealous Russian nationalism forced him to choose, which he never could.