This edition of the play seeks to provide the reader with all that is required for a full understanding of Gogol's classic. Every aspect of the play has been carefully researched, and a detailed account of its composition, reception and stage history is given in the introduction. The text, in the original Russian, is accompanied by a commentary on points of linguistic, literary or historical interest. There are copious notes on colloquial Russian idiom. Misconceptions about the nature and purpose of Gogol's dramatic masterpiece are common, and this edition attempts to set the record straight, using evidence taken from the writings of Gogol and his contemporaries. The play, innocent of any political intent, emerges not as a light-hearted farce, but as a subtle satirical comedy, a brilliant exposition, not just of bribery but of corruption in many guises. Its characters, far from being grotesque, are shown to be "real" people and recognizable types.