Nicolai Gogol was born in Poltava, Ukraine. He was educated in the Ukraine. And he often wrote about the Ukraine, and was passionate about its history, even pursuing (but failing to get) an appointment in the history department at the University of Kiev.

Then he moved to St. Petersberg, where he did the bulk of his stories and plays, which he wrote in Russian. His most famous work, Dead Souls, was a satirical look at Russian society. And when he died in 1852, his body was buried in the city in which he died - Moscow.

Through his life, Gogol attracted praise and controversy. And now, 200 years to the day after his birth, Gogol is making headlines again as the two nations which formed him compete for their claim of him.

According to The Guardian , Russia and Ukraine, which have had several confrontations in recent years are now battling over Gogol. The paper speaks to Ukranian MP and novelist Vladimir Yavorivsky who likens Gogol to a tree in which "the crown was in Russia but the roots were in Ukraine. To divide Gogol is like trying to divide air, eternity or the sky. He was a great Russian writer, but he was also a great Ukrainian one. It is not only language that is important, but themes and subject matter. His writing was full of the imagery and thinking of Ukrainian songs and folklore."

Meanwhile, Igor Zolotussky, a Russian Gogol scholar claims: " A part of the political elite in Kiev wants to claim Gogol as their own so they can enter civilised Europe with at least one great Ukrainian writer. But there can be no such discussion because there is no such thing as a separate Ukrainian national identity. Gogol wrote and thought in Russian. He was a great Russian writer, full stop."

Ukranian President Viktor Yuschenko is expected to celebrate the birth of Gogol in a ceremony in Poltava.


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