Nikolai Gogol began work on his comedy "The Inspector General" in the fall of 1835. The plot was rather unpretentious: in the county town of N, officials mistaken a young man staying at a local hotel for an inspector. And he quickly enters the role, having managed to use the current situation for his own selfish purposes.
There is no single point of view on how Gogol got the idea for this play. According to the most common version, the plot was suggested by Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, who was also mistaken for an auditor in Nizhny Novgorod, where the poet arrived to collect material about the rebellion of Emelyan Pugachev.
According to another version, a similar story happened to the Russian publisher Pavel Petrovich Svinyin in Bessarabia. The topic was quite popular in Russian satirical literature, therefore, some researchers believe that Gogol simply borrowed it from other authors. For example, in 1827 the playwright GF Kvitka-Osnovyanenko wrote the play "A Visitor from the Capital, or Turmoil in a District Town."
However, this author was also reproached for the fact that his work repeats plays that have been staged many times on the stages of St. Petersburg and Moscow theaters.
The first public reading of "The Inspector General" took place in January 1836 at a literary evening with V. A. Zhukovsky. The author read the play in the presence of a whole group of writers, provoking "applause, heartfelt and unanimous laughter." Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin was also present at the evening, according to one version, who suggested to Gogol the theme for the play.
However, not everything was as rosy as some of the witnesses describe this event. The comedy literally divided the Petersburg bohemia into supporters and opponents of the new work. For example, the poet and playwright Baron Rosen claimed that during the reading he did not show the slightest approval of the author and never even smiled at him. And Count Fyodor Tolstoy, who bore the nickname "American", was even more categorical - the enemy of Russia, who wrote such slander, should be shackled and sent to Siberia.
The dubious Gogol was very upset about critical statements in his address, sometimes even seriously exaggerating their significance. Friends tried to convince him of the importance of comedy, warning the young playwright against the irresistible desire to "run away from everything."
The path of "The Inspector General" to the theater was also not easy. Vasily Andreevich Zhukovsky even had to get an audience with Emperor Nicholas I, convincing the monarch that the work is absolutely safe for Russian society.
The premiere took place on April 19, 1836 on the stage of the Alexandria Theater in the presence of the emperor, who declared: "Well, the play! Everyone got it, but I got it more than anyone else." But, he did not prohibit further staging.
Later, Gogol made a number of amendments to his work, and the last edition was made six years after the premiere - in 1842.
Gogol himself was dissatisfied with the first production, in his opinion, the actors could not understand the whole satirical orientation of the work, or they were simply afraid to show it in the presence of Nicholas I.
In a letter to the actor Mikhail Shchepkin, a few days after the premiere, Gogol admits that now he fully understands what it means to be a comic writer. The slightest sign of truth in the work, and not individuals, but entire estates, no longer rebel against the author.
Despite the fact that Nikolai the First did not interfere with the staging of the play, he expressed a wish: it would be nice if at the end all the officials were punished. This, according to the emperor, would be much more consistent with reality. The tacit recommendations of the ruler did not go unnoticed, already in the summer of 1836 in St. Petersburg and Moscow there were performances entitled "The Real Inspector". It is interesting that the authorship was not indicated on the posters, and in conversations a certain "Prince Tsitsianov" was mentioned as the creator of the play.
Gogol's play gained popularity not only in Russia, but also abroad. A few years later they began to stage it on the stage of the Parisian theater "Port-Saint-Martin". And in our country, the real popularity of Gogol's "Inspector General" began after the revolution, because it was in the spirit of the times - to criticize everything that took place in tsarist Russia. The play was filmed more than once, it was included in the school curriculum for literature.
In Eldar Ryazanov's comedy A Forgotten Melody for a Flute, released in 1987, the actors of an amateur theater stage Gogol's play The Inspector General, while trying to bring the classics closer to modern times - for example, the mayor is no longer driving around town N in a droshky, but by car.
In 2009, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol, a bronze sculpture was erected in the Ukrainian city of Mirgorod dedicated to the main character of the comedy "The Inspector General" - Ivan Aleksandrovich Khlestakov.