Gogol’s “Nose”


For Wednesday 8/24, Nikolai Gogol’s short story “The Nose” (Russia, 1836).

If you read this story again, try this translation – the-nose_gogol



“Literature is the question, not the answer.”  – Roland Barthes

In Gogol “there is no plot, but only some cosmic situation” – Boris Eichenbaum


Monument_to_Major_Kovalyov_nose Kazan110????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Nose Afterlife:  Opera “The Nose” by Dmitrii Shostokovich http://youtu.be/7TA-VCIFGkM

Gogol Bordello “Start Wearing Purple”: http://youtu.be/SkkIwO_X4i4

Gogol: “The Nose”

  1. Consider the role of language play in this story – told by an untrustworthy, opinionated, and sometimes annoying narrator, much of it is composed of lies, veiled allusions, rumor, and gossip. Gogol really exploits the power of language to mislead, deflect, and distract– and to create a “magical space” where the impossible can happen. (Metafiction – fiction about fiction)
  1. Gogol was a master of the device of synecdoche, but he takes it to an extreme level – many of his “people” are replaced by objects and signifiers (hats, clothes, etc.). How does he use this descriptive device (synecdoche) to enhance meaning?
  1. Gogol was working under very heavy censorship in the time of Tsar Nicolas I in Russia. A few things you could not talk about were Serfdom, Corruption, and Censorship itself. How does Gogol use his tale spun of lies and rumors to reveal real situations underneath?
  1. In all of his writings, Gogol delights in red herrings and odd, seemingly pointless details that exasperate the reader trying to follow a plot. Why might a writer choose to do this?
  1. Kovalev is not the only person that has lost something in this story – in fact, it is filled with misplaced selves. Gogol was living in a highly controlled, very well ordered society where everybody knew their place – how does his story open a space to question that fine stability?





ENGLISH 371 – Topics in World Literature: East/West Intersections


Fall, 2014

MWF 10-10:50 108 Penny [Brittian] Hall

Prof. Anna Oldfield

Office: EHFA 204

Phone: 349-6591

Email: aoldfield@coastal.edu

Office Hours: 9-9:50 MWF, 11-12 MW and by appointment

Syllabus: engl_371fa14_syl_oldfield (1)

Fall 2014 – Magical Realisms. A subset of Latin American fiction? A post-colonial literary hybrid? A type of Surrealism or Fantasy? A response to political repression? A genre as old as Gilgamesh? Magic/al Realism is perhaps not a genre, period or style, but a mode of artistic creation in which multiple worlds intersect and collide with paradoxical, carnivalesque, and sometimes terrifying results. In this class we will consider literature and film as we debate our own conceptions of what magical realism might be, explore how it is connected to specific political and historical situations, and respond to the human and metaphysical challenges with which it confronts us. Geographically, we are going to concentrate on Latin America, Europe, Asia (Eastern and Western), and Africa. Readings will include Nikolai Gogol, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, , Shahrnush Parsipur, Haruki, Murakami, Mo Yan, and Ben Okri, as well as essays by F. Nietzsche and J. Bauldrillard.

Image: The False Mirror by Rene Magritte (1936)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s