Monday, March 30, 2009

The Nose by Nikolai Gogol

This short story about a man who loses his nose is a enjoyable read. The story begins with Ivan Yakovlevich finding a nose in his morning roll. He is badgered to leave the house by his imposing wife. Ivan is a terrible barber and a great drunkard. His first goal of the day is to rid himself of the nose. He attempts to dump it from his pocket as litter, but is caught by a police man. Eventually he drops it into the Neva River. A mist renders the rest of that scene impossible to see. Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov is the man who has lost his nose. This nose is a great treasure to him because he cannot persuade any ladies to return home with him missing such an obvious feature. He accidentally finds his nose dressed as a higher ranking official and follows it to a church. Here Kovalyov tries to confront his former face part, but the nose knows nothing of the sort. Beside himself, he tries to place an advertisement for the return of his nose. He is even willing to pay a reward. The papers choose to pass on his wild tale.
The police, likewise, will believe no story about a nose that has run off to masquerade as an official. He returns home defeated. The police officer, who had spoken to Ivan, appears at the home of Kovalyov. He tells that the nose has been found. After explaining how he found it, he hands the nose over to the Collegiate Assessor. Next, Kovalyov tries and tries to replace his nose with no luck. A doctor comes, at his demand, to inspect the problem, but refuses to do anything that will help fix the problem. Then he writes a letter to a girlfriend's mother telling her to put his nose back on, because he has come to the conclusion she used some kind of witchcraft to take it off his face. The narrator of the story comes on the strongest in the last section to explain away all the problems with this strange tale; he says odd things really do happen sometimes. Finally, he admits it's even hard for him to believe, but he swears it's the truth.