The Nose – Nikolai Gogol


It was the two of clubs this week for Deal Me In 2014. Since deuces are wild, I got to pick an “ad hoc” story and decided to stay within my theme for clubs – stories by Russian authors. One story I’d heard a buzz about during my other Russian reading was Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose,” and I had really enjoyed his “The Cloak” and “St. John’s Eve” earlier on in DMI2014, so I chose that one to close out my suit for the year. It turned out to be probably my least favorite Russian story of 2014. So much for wild cards.

“FARCE really does occur in this world, and, sometimes, farce altogether without an element of probability.”

I’d argue that Gogol’s story goes beyond farce. My dictionary defines it (farce) as “a light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot.” The plot of The Nose (a man awakens to find his nose “missing” later encountering it wandering around town in the guise of a public official)  is beyond improbable, which is maybe why Gogol inserts the sentence above at the start of part three of the story. If you think about that sentence, though, it’s self-contradictory. Something without an element of probability occurs? What?

Anyway, perhaps this story just didn’t suit my taste. Give me “The Cloak” or the darker “St. John’s Eve” any day and keep your “Nose” out of my business. 🙂

Read this story online at

below: a statue of Gogol presides over a prominent street in modern day St. Petersburg.