Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was a Russian writer who deserves to be noted as a Modernist pioneer. Donald Fanger, in his book The Creation of Nikolai Gogol, describes some of Gogol’s writing features. It is surprising to see how, in a predominant Romantic and Realistic period, Gogol is concerned with form and words merely. As Fanger says, the detail is the main figure in Gogol’s narrative where the argument is absent. Gogol was concern with the fact of artistic creation as it will be for Kafka and Woolf a hundred years later.
Gogol wrote, “Only that came out well, which I had taken from reality, from data known to me. I could only divine the man when the smallest details of his exterior were present to me”. However Realistic it could seem, the attention to the smallest details reminds as well Joyce. In fact, the absence of plot is quite significant as it is prominent in writers of the 19th century.
The pre-revolution Russian literature is a source of discoveries. One is startled by the surprise of finding there, in a culture traditionally far away from the European continent, numerous innovative literary techniques as well as writers of high value such as Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, among others. It looks like a buried culture during the 20th century, which should be rediscovered in this new millennium.