“But can’t you see, you are my nose!”
Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov awakens one morning to discover that his nose is missing, and immediately launches a search around St. Petersburg to find it. Finally locating it in Kazan Cathedral, he learns his nose has acquired a higher rank in the civil services than he has—and that it refuses to return to his face.
A razor-sharp satire on the stratification of St. Petersburg society—which Nikolai Gogol, a Ukrainian from the provinces, observed as a critical yet ambitious outsider—The Nose is also a masterpiece of the Russian “fantastic” movement, whose literary heirs in the twentieth century would include Kafka and Bulgakov.
Ian Dreiblatt’s brilliant new translation restores a sense of how not only Kovalyov’s nose but the entire world of the novella is characterized by surrealistic dissociations and distensions—in which the absurdity and madness of literature pale in comparison with the absurdity and madness of life.