REREADING GOGOL'S MISWRITTEN BOOK: "Gogol could ill stand the presence of unfamiliar people, wrote out his lectures (or else feigned sickness), and tried to monitor from Europe all the movements and exchanges of information related to him, for instance, the itineraries of acquaintances who could bring him messages or money, as well as the circulation of his letters and the exchange of opinions about him, instructing his friends how to refute misrepresentations. He was notoriously secretive, traveling under altered names and avoiding contacts with fellow-travellers (he would go to such lengths as feigning sleep or not recognizing them), and (like Petrushka) often slept fully dressed - armed, as it were. In correspondence, he "falsified" his motives and personality. He concealed his addresses, changed printers, misleading his associates...He also had a penchant for destroying his writings: he burned a juvenile novella,a romantic poem, a historical drama (after it put Zhukovsky to sleep), and twice the second part of his "epic." Sure enough, after the failure of SP Gogol regretted not having burned it.35 Gogol's annihilatory pyrotechnics can be viewed as a will to monopolize his literary rights, and his near-suicidal death, as a desperate gesture of control over his very life.
"Indeed, most of Gogol's bids for power were always on the brink of collapsing. They achieved control either by destroying their object or by the less dramatic strategy of withdrawal (evidenced by his celibacy, aloofness from mundane matters, avoidance of contacts, and self-imposed exile). In an ambivalent reversal of his manipulativeness - but not of his blissful unconcern for the boundaries of his self, Gogol deliberately surrendered many functions to others. Thus, he instructed his friends to pool their efforts, each in his own way, for his sake and, in particular, for taking care of his mother Gogol delegated to Shevyrev all matters of money-management, publication, and even the editing of his faulty style and grammar; to his correspondents, the drafting of his future texts;. and to censorship, the enforcement of artistic discipline. Before burning Dead Souls, Gogol tried to leave the manuscript with A. P. Tolstoy and the decision what to do with it, to the discretion of Filaret and others. Delegation of power naturally led to situations where others failed Gogol (as, for instance, when A. P. Tolstoi refused to keep the manuscript, effectively enabling Gogol to burn it...Thus, the circumstances of this fatal burning are emblematic of both 'total control' and 'relinquished responsibility."