”A most extraordinary thing happened in St. Petersburg on the twenty-fifth of March.” The opening lines of ”The Nose”, one of Gogol’s best-known stories, and quite possibly the most absurd, are just as promising as any of his works. The simple yet extraordinary plot follows the story of the civil servant Major Kovalyov who wakes up one morning to discover his nose has left his face and is living a life of its own. Strange as it may seem, the nose has even surpassed him by attaining a higher rank!
The story is a brilliant portrayal of the preoccupation with social rank in Imperial Russia, a biting satire of the bureaucrats’ pursuit of higher position within the Table of Ranks. A masterful combination of brilliant words, witty imagination, and unparalleled humor, it remains one of the most striking stories of all times. It is believed to have influenced masterpieces of world literature, including Dostoevsky's ”The Double,” Stevenson's ”Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, and Kafka’s ”Metamorphosis”.
Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was a Ukrainian-born Russian humorist, novelist, and dramatist whose work played a crucial role in the direction of Russian literature. He was considered to be one of the leading figures of Russian realism. His novel ”Dead Souls”, a satire of the political corruption in the Russian Empire, is viewed by many literary historians as the first great Russian novel. Among his contributions to Russian and world literature are the surrealistic and grotesque ”The Nose” and ”The Mantle”, the satirical ”The Government Inspector/The Inspector General”, the historical novel ”Taras Bulba”, the comedy ”Marriage”, the humorous short stories ”Diary of a Madman” and ”The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich”. His works have influenced generations of readers and still continue to impress with their subtle psychologism and matchless style.