The men of Nikolai Gogol's Marriage: An Improbable Occurrence in Two Acts, OR The Millionaire Matchmaker meets 1833 St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian playwright and novelist Nikolai Gogol’s Marriage: An Utterly Improbable Occurrence in Two Acts, (1833), a “luminous, hilarious cosmic farce,” is an absurdly poetic tale about the business of marriage. A town matchmaker and a newly betrothed busybody match wits in a race to marry off a gun-shy suitor. Calamity ensues and it's anybody's guess whether the bride will make it to the altar.
Nikolay (Vasilyevich) Gogol (1809-1852) -- The Grandfather of Absurdism?
Great Russian novelist, dramatist, satirist, founder of the so-called critical realism in Russian literature, best-known for his novel MERTVYE DUSHI I-II (1842, Dead Souls). Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics found in Gogol's work strains of absurdism, surrealism and the grotesque in The Nose, Viy, The Overcoat, and Nevsky Prospekt. His later writing satirised political corruption in the Russian Empire in The Government Inspector and Dead Souls, leading to his eventual exile. The novelTaras Bulba (1835) and the play Marriage (1842), along with the short stories Diary of a Madman, The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich, and The Portrait and The Carriage, round out the tally of his best-known works.
"Characteristic of Gogol is a sense of boundless superfluity and absurdity that is soon revealed as utter emptiness, and a rich comedy that suddenly turns into metaphysical horror." His stories often interweave pathos and mockery. Dostoevsky is reported to have said (referring to himself and his fellow Realists) "...we have all come out from under Gogol's 'Overcoat'..." (referring to the famous story by Gogol).
Marriage was Gogol's response to the conventional plot endings of popular Russian comedies of the early 1800’s in which the protagonists overcame obstacles to a happy storybook ending. Written nearly 200 years ago, Marriage illuminates a subject as old as the hills in an absurd and fresh translation with plot (and outcome) not unlike the current Bravo network television series The Millionaire Matchmaker.
Which suitor will winningly woo the hand and dowry of Agafya Tikhonovna Kuperdyagina? We're raising funds for this obscure gem Gogol's Marriage production "dowry." Follow the progress beginning January 17, 2012 for 40 days to see how Agafya's dowry grows. Funds will purchase (in 1833 Russian rubles):
A Two Storey Stone House in Moscow with Two Wooden Wings: One Completely Wooden, One on a Stone Foundation
A Droshky: A Two Seater Sleigh with Wooden Carvings
Two Rugs: One Large and One Small
Two Dozen Silver Spoons
Two Fox Fur Coats
Four Large Feather Beds, Two Small Feather Beds
Six Silk Dresses, Six Cotton Dresses, Two Night Gowns
Marriage: An Utterly Improbable Occurrence in Two Acts is the latest project from the six-year old Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, whose mission is to present and preserve seldom-performed gems from absurdist authors from around the world. While the term didn't come into fashion until much later, Gogol certainly set the stage for generations of absurdist writers to come. IRC. We Bring Good Nothingness to Life.
- (41 days)