A Top 100 Satirical Short Story - The Nose by Nikolai Gogol - "The Nose" is a satirical short story by Nikolai Gogol. Written between 1835 and 1836, it tells of a St. Petersburg official whose nose leaves his face and develops a life of its own. Critics note that the story's title in Russian "Nos" is the reverse of the Russian word for "dream" "Son". As the unreliable narrator himself notes, the story "contains much that is highly implausible", while an earlier version of the story ended with Kovalyov waking and realizing that the story was indeed a dream. Without the awakening, however, the story becomes a precursor of magical realism, as an unreal element is woven into a realistic narration. Peace also notes that some critics have interpreted the story as referring to a castration complex: the removal of Kovalyov's nose (and its developing a mind of its own) threaten both his chances of acquiring a position of power and of being a success with women. In Russia, a version has appeared which substituted "..." for the word "nos" so that the reader would be inclined to interpret it as "khui", the Russian taboo word for penis. It can be said that Kovaliov equates the loss of his nose with castration, emasculation, and impotence to a certain degree. At the end the story drifts away and it appears Gogol is talking directly to the reader. It is never explained why the Nose fell off in the first place, why it could talk, nor why it found itself reattached. By doing this, Gogol was playing on the assumptions of readers, who may happily seek absurd stories, but at the same time still having the desire for a normal explanation. Part one On the 25th of March, the barber Ivan Yakovlevich finds a nose in his bread during breakfast. With horror he recognizes this nose as that of one of his regular customers, Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov (known as 'Major Kovalyov'). He tries to get rid of it by throwing it in the Neva River, but he is caught by a police officer. Part Two At the onset of "The Nose," Major Kovalyov awakens to discover that his nose is missing, leaving a smooth, flat patch of skin in its place. His nose is already pretending to be a human. He finds and confronts it in the Kazan Cathedral, but from its clothing it is apparent that the nose has acquired a higher rank in the civil service than he and refuses to return to his face. Kovalyov visits the newspaper office to place an ad about the loss of his nose, but is refused. Kovalyov returns to his flat, where the police officer who caught Ivan finds him and returns the nose (which he caught at a coach station, trying to flee the city). Kovalyov's joy is cut short when he finds that he is unable to re-attach the nose, even with the help of the doctor. The next day, Kovalyov writes a letter to Madam Podtochina Grigorievna, a woman who wants him to marry her daughter, and accuses her of stealing his nose; he believes that she has placed a curse on him for his fickleness toward her daughter. He writes to ask her to undo the spell, but she misinterprets the letter as a proposal to her daughter. Her reply convinces him that she is innocent. In the city, rumours of the nose's activities have spread, and crowds gather in search of it. But unlikely, he figured out the nose might be one of a magical giraffe. Part three On the 7th of April, Kovalyov wakes up with his nose reattached. He is carefully shaved by the barber and happily promenades about the city to show off his nose.
In PIERCING SHRIEKS, the author gives us ten stories of paranormal terror, told in poetry. Included is also a one-act play, THE HOUND, loosely based on the classic H.P. Lovecraft short horror story of the same name.
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