About the book (from Wikipedia):
Taras Bulba is a romanticized historical novella by Nikolai Gogol. It describes the life of an old Zaporozhian Cossack, Taras Bulba, and his two sons, Andriy and Ostap. The sons study at the Kiev Academy and then return home, whereupon the three men set out on a journey to the Zaporizhian Sich (the Zaporizhian Cossack headquarters, located in southern Ukraine), where they join other Cossacks and go to war against Poland.
The main character is based on several historical personalities, and other characters are not as exaggerated or grotesque as was common in Gogol’s later fiction. The story can be understood in the context of the Romantic nationalism movement in literature, which developed around a historical ethnic culture which meets the Romantic ideal.
About Gogol (from Wikipedia):
Nikolai Gogol was a Russian novelist, short story writer and playwright of Ukrainian origin.
Gogol was one of the first to use the technique of the grotesque, in works such as “The Nose”, “Viy”, “The Overcoat”, and “Nevsky Prospekt”. These stories, and others such as “Diary of a Madman”, have also been noted for their proto-surrealist qualities.