Praised as “perhaps the most talented of Gogol’s early followers”
Languagehat has been reading more of Iakov Butkov (1820 or 1821-1856), a minor writer who died young and is remembered, when he is, because of Dostoevskii’s interest in him. The three stories LH talks about here sound rather good, and they sound more like the prototypical literature of the 1840s than anything should be able to, filled with uhlans with mustaches, poor clerks, major dramas turning on small and specific amounts of silver and paper rubles, low salaries and corruption, prostitution, and the Table of Ranks.
According to John Schillinger, Butkov was “praised by Chernyshevsky as perhaps the most talented of Gogol’s early followers, and by Remizov as the most gifted of all the Russian naturalists,” while Bulgarin “polemically asserted that Butkov had surpassed Gogol with a naturalism untainted by caricature.” Russian Wikipedia reports that Butkov was going to be drafted into the army until the publisher Kraevskii bought him an exemption and made him work off the debt with his writing. That’s a situation I’d never even thought about; so many writers of the time were of noble origin and already exempt.