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Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

As Gogol's wily antihero, Chichikov, combs the back country wheeling and dealing for "dead souls" - deceased serfs who still represent money to anyone sharp enough to trade in them - we are introduced to a Dickensian cast of peasants, landowners, and conniving petty officials, few of whom can resist the seductive illogic of Chichikov's proposition.

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