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The Nose by Nikolai Gogol, Classics

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This is the story of a nose. No, really -- it's the story of a nose that leaves the face of an official in St. Petersburg (the Russian St. Petersburg, the one in Florida wasn't even a proper village when Gogol was alive). The nose leaves this man's face and wanders off to have a life of its own. It does strange stuff, too, What's to expect? Seriously, it's a nose. In A His This is the story of a nose. No, really -- it's the story of a nose that leaves the face of an official in St. Petersburg (the Russian St. Petersburg, the one in Florida wasn't even a proper village when Gogol was alive). The nose leaves this man's face and wanders off to have a life of its own. It does strange stuff, too, What's to expect? Seriously, it's a nose. In A History of Russian Literature, the critic D.S. Mirsky writes: "The Nose is a piece of sheer play, almost sheer nonsense. In it more than anywhere else Gogol displays his extraordinary magic power of making great comic art out of nothing." Nikolai Gogol. You've got to love him


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This is the story of a nose. No, really -- it's the story of a nose that leaves the face of an official in St. Petersburg (the Russian St. Petersburg, the one in Florida wasn't even a proper village when Gogol was alive). The nose leaves this man's face and wanders off to have a life of its own. It does strange stuff, too, What's to expect? Seriously, it's a nose. In A His This is the story of a nose. No, really -- it's the story of a nose that leaves the face of an official in St. Petersburg (the Russian St. Petersburg, the one in Florida wasn't even a proper village when Gogol was alive). The nose leaves this man's face and wanders off to have a life of its own. It does strange stuff, too, What's to expect? Seriously, it's a nose. In A History of Russian Literature, the critic D.S. Mirsky writes: "The Nose is a piece of sheer play, almost sheer nonsense. In it more than anywhere else Gogol displays his extraordinary magic power of making great comic art out of nothing." Nikolai Gogol. You've got to love him

30 review for The Nose by Nikolai Gogol, Classics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Gogol’s “The Nose” (1835), is an early triumph of surrealism, daring and delightful in the way it jars and disjoins one realitiy from another, but it is also a vivid realistic depiction of the sights and sounds of early 19th century St. Petersburg (including the essential bridges, buildings and monuments), a savage criticism of the way petty bureaucrats jockeyed for position within Russia’s complex government classification system, as well as a critical examination of the nature of story-telling Gogol’s “The Nose” (1835), is an early triumph of surrealism, daring and delightful in the way it jars and disjoins one realitiy from another, but it is also a vivid realistic depiction of the sights and sounds of early 19th century St. Petersburg (including the essential bridges, buildings and monuments), a savage criticism of the way petty bureaucrats jockeyed for position within Russia’s complex government classification system, as well as a critical examination of the nature of story-telling itself.. Our tale begins as Yakovlevich the Barber cuts into his breakfast roll and recognizes—concealed inside his morning pastry—the wandering nose of “Major” Kolyakov the College Inspector, which he and to discard surreptitiously, near the river. The story then ships to the awakening Major Kolyakov, who soon realizes his nose has absconded, leading behind nothing but a space in the middle of his face “as flat as a pancake.” Soon—muffled, concealing his shame--he goes out onto the St. Petersburg street, and spies what he is sure is his nose (also muffled) leaving a carriage and entering into the house of an important official. But, worse than all this, is the fact that that his former nose is now wearing a uniform, and the nose’s rank is higher than that of the “Major” himself. Why a nose? Well, Gogol had an odd shaped nose, which we know because he himself ridiculed its appearance in his letters, and I take that as pretty good evidence other people made fun of it too. But of course, although the nose may be self-referential, it is also phallic: what better symbol for a man deprived of the accoutrements of power than a missing, errant nose? This is miraculous piece of fiction, and—like all miracles—it doesn’t open itself readily to convincing explanations. Its owes much of its ineffable power, I believe, to its early, daring and dreamlike shift from a nose-sized nose to a human-sized nose stepping down from a carriage, a shift Gogol accomplishes without any attempt to explain or excuse the transformation. If the reader will accept this absurdity, he will accept anything. And—speaking for one reader at least—I accepted it without thinking, and--from this point on--Gogol had on completely his spell.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Some people take Gogol too seriously. Me? I just apply duct tape to the edges of my nose to make sure it won't get up and walk away. It seems to be a functional, cheap solution. And I can change the color weekly! From Vaught's Practical Character Reader, p 86. My nose is somewhere between "Good and Bad" and "Selfish and Hopeful." I'd like to keep it that way, so I don't end up with a replacement nose that is "mental." (How funny that I encountered "The Nose" and the Practical Character Reader in th Some people take Gogol too seriously. Me? I just apply duct tape to the edges of my nose to make sure it won't get up and walk away. It seems to be a functional, cheap solution. And I can change the color weekly! From Vaught's Practical Character Reader, p 86. My nose is somewhere between "Good and Bad" and "Selfish and Hopeful." I'd like to keep it that way, so I don't end up with a replacement nose that is "mental." (How funny that I encountered "The Nose" and the Practical Character Reader in the same week!)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anya (~on a semi-hiatus~)

    So...I sort of removed my nose. (ok don't laugh pls, I know I look mad. I did it for er, literature) [Voldanya] (A portmanteau of Voldemort and Ananya, geddit geddit? :D :D :D) Notice how the patch is as uniform as a newly fried pancake. Gogol's short story Nose (Нос) is about a Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov who one day wakes up with his nose missing (I was reminded a little of Kafka's sad novella Metamorphosis). The novelette is bizarrely humorous and follows the noseless adventures of Kovalyov run So...I sort of removed my nose. (ok don't laugh pls, I know I look mad. I did it for er, literature) [Voldanya] (A portmanteau of Voldemort and Ananya, geddit geddit? :D :D :D) Notice how the patch is as uniform as a newly fried pancake. Gogol's short story Nose (Нос) is about a Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov who one day wakes up with his nose missing (I was reminded a little of Kafka's sad novella Metamorphosis). The novelette is bizarrely humorous and follows the noseless adventures of Kovalyov running after his nose trying to catch it red-handed(?) and making it sit on his face (heh heh). Poor Kovalyov nearly went out of his mind. He did not know what to make of it. How, in fact, could a nose, which only yesterday was in the middle of his face, and which could not possibly walk around or drive in a carriage, suddenly turn up in a uniform! The Nose in my culture is an allegory for a person's (or their family's) status/honour. So the Hindi phrase 'Naak kaat lena' (to cut one's own nose; and hence, bring shame upon themselves) can be considered this story's phoren dark skinned little cousin. I won't go much into thematic/symbolic analysis. In case you're looking for a serious study, Florencia's review will slay you; unlike yours truly's (the Assclown's). There's some variety of castration complex going on in the story with a dollop of class obsession (that started in Russia during the reign of Peter the Great), a generous sprinkling of neurotic fixation with physical appearance (I am waggling my eyebrows at you, Kardashian Klan), blah blah fish paste. Oh, look! There goes My Nose wearing a pink tutu, a kokoshnik and a cape galloping on a horse. *runs after it with a bazooka*

  4. 4 out of 5

    Piyangie

    The Nose is the most surrealistic story that I've read. I mean, a "nose" becoming a "self"! :) The absurdity is too funny to disregard. But then, Gogol is known for his interest in the absurd and the grotesque, so the chosen subject shouldn't surprise us. This little story first arrests our attention with its absurd and grotesque nature. But this very absurdity and the grotesque nature is what makes this story fun and enjoyable. And that is not all. Another contributing fact toward the enjoymen The Nose is the most surrealistic story that I've read. I mean, a "nose" becoming a "self"! :) The absurdity is too funny to disregard. But then, Gogol is known for his interest in the absurd and the grotesque, so the chosen subject shouldn't surprise us. This little story first arrests our attention with its absurd and grotesque nature. But this very absurdity and the grotesque nature is what makes this story fun and enjoyable. And that is not all. Another contributing fact toward the enjoyment of this story is his satirical writing. Even in this short work, Gogol has not spared the Russian bureaucracy, although some rubbing has been done with the use of an honest police officer. It was a fun read overall, and despite my initial confusion and discomfort, I enjoyed it. If any of you want to indulge in a little absurdity coupled with satire, please do remember Gogol. :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    The nose. The only part of your body that you can constantly see but almost never notice unless there is something wrong with it. Like, for instance, if you got a runny nose, or – and this is more serious! – if your nose is running away from you. What if you wake up one morning from anxious dreams and discover you had been changed into a noseless monstrosity? That’s exactly what happens to Major Kovaloff of St Petersburg in this story. Looking into a mirror he saw a “perfectly smooth vacancy” wh The nose. The only part of your body that you can constantly see but almost never notice unless there is something wrong with it. Like, for instance, if you got a runny nose, or – and this is more serious! – if your nose is running away from you. What if you wake up one morning from anxious dreams and discover you had been changed into a noseless monstrosity? That’s exactly what happens to Major Kovaloff of St Petersburg in this story. Looking into a mirror he saw a “perfectly smooth vacancy” where his honker used to be! His nose thumbed itself to him and decided to take a leave and lead a life of its own; to stand on its own two feet, so to speak. Roaming the city, not knowing what to do, K. suddenly sees his former schnoz as it is stepping out of a carriage in the uniform of a “councillor of state” which means the nose outranks the Major. Apparently the snotty nose made a career over night and has had enough of poor K. who is now going to move heaven and hell in order to rejoin with his essential body part. Surrealistic nonsense, you might exclaim. Yes, of course, I reply. But Shostakovich made an opera from Gogol’s story, so it can’t be that much nonsense, can it? I’d call it nonosesence (geddit? (view spoiler)[no nose sense = the unbearable lightness of being (without a nose) (hide spoiler)] ) and it was so much fun to read indeed that I couldn’t stop laughing until my own nose started acting strange. Hope I’ll find it in its proper place in the morning. I promise I’ll look after it more, and you should do too, because, as the old Russian saying goes “Береги нос в большой мороз!”, or, in other words… Noses are red, other parts blue. when winter is coming and rampant’s the flu! PS: Free (English) Version here PPS: On the subject of loosing ones nose see the reaction of these little kids after their inconsiderate daddies stole their theirs: a weak Boy — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2ke_... a strong Girl — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oZhH... This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    This is, without a doubt, the strangest story I've ever read. Ever.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    You know what a snub nose is, but when was the last time you heard of a nose snubbing its owner? You know the phrase to cut off your nose to spite your face, but have you heard the one about the runaway nose that spited its bearer? This snort story, excuse me, short story, has these unprecedented nasal antics and more. You may never have thought of yourself as particularly attached to your nose, but I’ll bet you take it for granted that your nose is unalterably attached to your face. Major Kovalo You know what a snub nose is, but when was the last time you heard of a nose snubbing its owner? You know the phrase to cut off your nose to spite your face, but have you heard the one about the runaway nose that spited its bearer? This snort story, excuse me, short story, has these unprecedented nasal antics and more. You may never have thought of yourself as particularly attached to your nose, but I’ll bet you take it for granted that your nose is unalterably attached to your face. Major Kovaloff thought the same, until he wakes up one morning to find that it has taken a nosedive off its habitual resting place. Talk about a loss of face. Meanwhile, across town, his barber bites into his breakfast, only to find the Major’s nose in his loaf of bread. Don’t you hate it when that happens. No one wants to get stuck picking another man’s nose…out of his meal. That really blows. I mean, that’s just stuffed up! In all seriousness, folks, this is a really unserious story about a little upstart of a nose that takes off and is then seen around town in the uniform of a high government official, higher ranked, even, than its owner. The nose’s bureaucratic cohorts obviously don’t know a man’s nose from his elbow, and no one realizes that they’ve accepted an olfactory organ into their ranks. In this status-obsessed society, apparently anything can be a gentleman so long as it has the right seals and proper measure of pompousness. Plunged into an identity crisis, the nose’s conceited, ambitious owner grovels to the stray snout, pleading for it to come home. The nose makes the man, it would seem. This satire has fun with society’s insecurities and is a good, clean load of nonsense. Title in Spanish: La nariz

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    “'What an infernal face!’ he exclaimed, and spat with disgust. ‘If there were only something there instead of the nose, but there is absolutely nothing.’” I like silly and this was a silly story with some fun descriptions of St. Petersburg and bureaucracies and social status. There are different ways you can make a symbol out of it, but I couldn’t muster up much interest in them. Gogol has yet to win me over. I read most of the first part of Dead Souls, and left it disappointed. I feel much the sa “'What an infernal face!’ he exclaimed, and spat with disgust. ‘If there were only something there instead of the nose, but there is absolutely nothing.’” I like silly and this was a silly story with some fun descriptions of St. Petersburg and bureaucracies and social status. There are different ways you can make a symbol out of it, but I couldn’t muster up much interest in them. Gogol has yet to win me over. I read most of the first part of Dead Souls, and left it disappointed. I feel much the same about this. I want to like him, but wanting hasn’t made it so.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    The perpetual question that is always asked among contestants at any beauty pageants: “ If you were given a chance to change any part of your body, what would it be and why?” The common answer is that they would not change anything as they are satisfied with what they have. But the immortal answer I have ever heard is by our very own Melanie Marquez-Lawyer prior to her winning the title of 1979 Ms. International because of her flaw grammar structure: ” I would not change anything because I am cont The perpetual question that is always asked among contestants at any beauty pageants: “ If you were given a chance to change any part of your body, what would it be and why?” The common answer is that they would not change anything as they are satisfied with what they have. But the immortal answer I have ever heard is by our very own Melanie Marquez-Lawyer prior to her winning the title of 1979 Ms. International because of her flaw grammar structure: ” I would not change anything because I am content with my “longleggedness”.” For sure, you could have been knocked in the aisle , or at the very least cringed upon hearing her answer if you had been among the audience. But I have never heard such a question yet : “ If there is one part of your body that is so indispensable that you are ashamed of without it, what is it? “ Your answer would be_______________? This is my first Nikolai Gogol’s masterpiece. I have heard a lot of positive feedbacks about him. So I am glad that I have made time to know him more. Somehow I had difficulty interpreting the meaning of this said satirical novella. I could not get at the real intention of Nikolai Gogol. The concept is too quirky to understand- a man loses his nose and then becomes anthropomorphic . Literally, without much knowledge of the Russian socio-political history, the satire could refer to the economic and political status of the officers rose through the ranks at that time . Whatever it may be, I still enjoy it because I find the story amusing. It is so funny that a man of the first rank in society is dog-determined to look for his missing nose around until he turns to the last resort that he will have his abject misery advertised in public , in exchange of a high reward. Besides, I missed reading classics which syntax is old-fashioned and archaic. To shatter my idle curiosity, I made an effort to search the other critical analyses. To my dismay, little did I realize that in the context of Freudian dreams interpretation, nose could be phallic in nature. So, how would you associate the meaning of the dream with the latent intention of Gogol’s satire? What does a phallus stand for? It could be the desire of the protagonist to look to his laurels since in the story he does not want to get married yet, for he desires to rank higher? Otherwise, if he does not have his “nose” returned, he could be stripped of his rank? If so, well , there is nothing to say more. Enough said! I would not go without my eyes; I could never pamper myself with the books on my list including Gogol's. ^^

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Page 3: He thrust in, this time, all his fingers, and pulled forth—a nose! His hands dropped to his sides for a moment. Then he rubbed his eyes hard. Then again he probed the thing. A nose! Sheerly a nose! Yes, and one fa- miliar to him, somehow! Oh, horror spread upon his feature! Yet that horror was a trifle compared with his spouse's overmastering wrath. Page 14: "I said nose, not Nossov. You are making a mistake. There has disappeared, goodness knows whither, my nose, my own actual nose. Presum Page 3: He thrust in, this time, all his fingers, and pulled forth—a nose! His hands dropped to his sides for a moment. Then he rubbed his eyes hard. Then again he probed the thing. A nose! Sheerly a nose! Yes, and one fa- miliar to him, somehow! Oh, horror spread upon his feature! Yet that horror was a trifle compared with his spouse's overmastering wrath. Page 14: "I said nose, not Nossov. You are making a mistake. There has disappeared, goodness knows whither, my nose, my own actual nose. Presumably it is trying to make a fool of me." Free download at Gutenberg Project

  11. 5 out of 5

    Safae

    In my humble opinion, I think this book has more meaning to it than what i first perceived. (view spoiler)[ First of all, the barber's irresponsibility and how he wanted to get rid of the nose, and then there is the major's ignorance, because he gained his position due to his long service and not to his capacity nor his education, and he keeps referring to his acquaintances, this lady and that lady , in a sign that people in that time were only represented by whom they knew instead of whom they we In my humble opinion, I think this book has more meaning to it than what i first perceived. (view spoiler)[ First of all, the barber's irresponsibility and how he wanted to get rid of the nose, and then there is the major's ignorance, because he gained his position due to his long service and not to his capacity nor his education, and he keeps referring to his acquaintances, this lady and that lady , in a sign that people in that time were only represented by whom they knew instead of whom they were. as the story goes the major found his nose passing for a State Councillor, and it's probably a sign that high ranking gentlemen -since the nose is in a higher rank than his owner- this shows that those gentlemen are even less educated than there inferiors, and maybe a sign also of the stupidity of people, a Nose has been within them and no once noticed. later on the story, when then Major wants to public an advertising in the news paper, the clerk, even though seeing with his own eyes the loss of the nose, refused to publish the advertise fearing the opinion of the public, the major in rage goes next to the officer only finding him preparing for a nap. (hide spoiler)]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    The unusually satirical short story about a Major Kovalyov who wakes one morning to find his nose missing and soon realises that the nose is parading around town living a life of its own...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    A story about a Russian official whose nose suddenly goes missing. How the official copes with the calamity is the basis of this short. A glimpse of Russian bureaucracy and psyche.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    I cannot improve on this review by Florencia, so I won't even try. I cannot improve on this review by Florencia, so I won't even try.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed R. Rashwan

    "But can't you see, you are my nose!" Here we go again, another classical piece of Russian surreal literature, and oh my was it delightfully insane. Straight out of the graduating school of Bulgakov, Gogol delivers to us a beautifully written satirical novella which can understandably only be defined as a classic. Surrealism is honestly not my forte, and thus I don't believe any surreal satirical novel could ever score higher than 3/5 rating by my critiquing standard, I could say that 'The Nose' g "But can't you see, you are my nose!" Here we go again, another classical piece of Russian surreal literature, and oh my was it delightfully insane. Straight out of the graduating school of Bulgakov, Gogol delivers to us a beautifully written satirical novella which can understandably only be defined as a classic. Surrealism is honestly not my forte, and thus I don't believe any surreal satirical novel could ever score higher than 3/5 rating by my critiquing standard, I could say that 'The Nose' gains the highest ranking it could get in my books. I must say 'The Nose' is truly an enjoyable novella that had me smiling more than once while reading; and it is my true belief that this would be a much more comical read if I had better knowledge or perhaps experience of the Petersburgian society and classes. Although the satirical sense of 'The Nose' cannot really be fully grasped or appreciated by non-Russians, I definitely do recommend it to anyone who has any interest in Russian literature and culture, or who wants a small taste of the "fantastic" movement of Russia.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Short read - lasting impression. This book offers a witty and matter of fact impression on what would happen should we wake up one day to discover our nose has run away :) I think this would be a perfect children's story so I'm gonna look for an illustrated version.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lucie Goroyan

    It's definitely not my cup of tea)))

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    3.5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ensiform

    This unusual story is a great piece of work – absurd, somewhat satirical, rather mocking in tone, but with an affectionate tinge to it. Commentary that I have read suggests that there is no reason to Gogol’s surrealism, but I think it could hardly be possible Freudian symbolism was not in his mind. Kovaloyov’s social “impotence” at his loss and his haughty machismo upon reattachment could hardly signify anything else. A very funny and sharp-witted story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Kowal

    4.78 stars As one critic writes, "Gogol displays his extraordinary magic power of making great comic art out of nothing." A good skill to have, if you ask me. And one that isn't always easy to pull off. I actually listened to one translation on audiobook while reading along to another translation, which I'd recommend. Double the wordplay. Double the fun.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ericka Clouther

    A short fanciful tale. In English, there's an expression "cut off your nose to spite your face," but what if it were your nose that spites you? Totally different than The Overcoat but didn't take long to read so I'm not bothered. Update: Writing professor husband tells me I didn't "get it." So now I'm rereading a translation of his choosing. Ha!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aysar Ibrahim

    This short story is like nowdays NEWS, like reading many un believable pages.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I received The Nose in the mail this weekend as part of my subscription to The Art of the Novella series, and I had a blast reading it over lunch. Hilarious and insightful, it's the perfect bite sized read that wastes no time. Certainly weird, but in the best way. While it predates the term magical realism, that's the first descriptor that came to mind while reading - albeit with a goofier element mixed in, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I've been wanting to read Gogol for a while n I received The Nose in the mail this weekend as part of my subscription to The Art of the Novella series, and I had a blast reading it over lunch. Hilarious and insightful, it's the perfect bite sized read that wastes no time. Certainly weird, but in the best way. While it predates the term magical realism, that's the first descriptor that came to mind while reading - albeit with a goofier element mixed in, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I've been wanting to read Gogol for a while now, and I'm excited to explore more of his work. "Say what you will, but things of this kind do take place in the world--rarely, but they do"

  24. 4 out of 5

    Trayana

    After reading Gogol's "The Overcoat", this story was such a surprise for me.I definitely didn't expect something like that from him. I don't remember when was the last time that I read such an enjoyable short story."The Nose" is ridiculous, but in a good way.I thought it was written very wittily and I just loved the irony (that Gogol has used extremely well). I really liked it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jane(Janelba)

    An amusing if somewhat bizarre short story about a Major in Russia who wakes up to discover his nose is missing and sets out to track it down. Wittily written and my first experience of the writings of Gogol.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    I love surrealism in visual arts, I just don't like it in literature. And I feel like I missed the undelying meaning of this tale. I might read it again in the future, give it another shot, maybe read it as a translation to my mother tongue instead of English...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Hesseling

    The nose has always been one of my favorite short stories. Macabre and political it's always fascinated me. This edition of it makes it even better. The gorgeous cut out cover, plus the interesting photos make this a beautiful collectors item. I'm so glad a came across it

  28. 5 out of 5

    this literature club

    My third book of Russian literature. I still don't know what to think about it. The three books were so strange and the writing style was so weird. But anyway I keep reading it because I like it somehow, but sometimes I´m annoyed. The book is also really similar to Kafkas Metamorphosis.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Odd. Quite odd, indeed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Faten Tareq

    I guess this what happens during panic attacks.

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