Happy Birthday, Nikolai
Today (March 19, OldStyle) in 1809, in Sorochintsy, a town near Poltava, Ukraine, in what was then the Russian Empire Николай Васильевич Гоголь, Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol, or Микола Васильович Гоголь, Mykola Vasylyovich Hohol as he is in Ukrainian, was born. His deft touch with characters, linguistic playfulness, and keen sense of what a professor of mine insisted on calling "the Russian absurd, not the English one!" make him one of the most distinctive voices in all Russian literature.
Or, to put it another way, he's funny. Oh, my word, he's funny.
A number of his works are available on line, such as The Inspector General, The Overcoat, Dead Souls, and a collection featuring The Diary of a Madman, The Nose, and Taras Bulba among others.
Works in Russian are here.