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Book Title: The Nose|
The author of the book: Nikolai Gogol
Edition: Penguin Classics
Date of issue: February 26th 2015
ISBN 13: 9780141397528
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 676 KB
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Reader ratings: 7.7
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Gogol’s “The Nose” (1835), is an early triumph of surrealism, daring and delightful in the way it jars and disjoins one realitiy from another, but it is also a vivid realistic depiction of the sights and sounds of early 19th century St. Petersburg (including the essential bridges, buildings and monuments), a savage criticism of the way petty bureaucrats jockeyed for position within Russia’s complex government classification system, as well as a critical examination of the nature of story-telling itself..
Our tale begins as Yakovlevich the Barber cuts into his breakfast roll and recognizes—concealed inside his morning pastry—the wandering nose of “Major” Kolyakov the College Inspector, which he and to discard surreptitiously, near the river. The story then ships to the awakening Major Kolyakov, who soon realizes his nose has absconded, leading behind nothing but a space in the middle of his face “as flat as a pancake.” Soon—muffled, concealing his shame--he goes out onto the St. Petersburg street, and spies what he is sure is his nose (also muffled) leaving a carriage and entering into the house of an important official. But, worse than all this, is the fact that that his former nose is now wearing a uniform, and the nose’s rank is higher than that of the “Major” himself.
Why a nose? Well, Gogol had an odd shaped nose, which we know because he himself ridiculed its appearance in his letters, and I take that as pretty good evidence other people made fun of it too. But of course, although the nose may be self-referential, it is also phallic: what better symbol for a man deprived of the accoutrements of power than a missing, errant nose?
This is miraculous piece of fiction, and—like all miracles—it doesn’t open itself readily to convincing explanations. Its owes much of its ineffable power, I believe, to its early, daring and dreamlike shift from a nose-sized nose to a human-sized nose stepping down from a carriage, a shift Gogol accomplishes without any attempt to explain or excuse the transformation. If the reader will accept this absurdity, he will accept anything. And—speaking for one reader at least—I accepted it without thinking, and--from this point on--Gogol had on completely his spell.
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Read information about the authorNikolai Vasilievich Gogol (Николай Васильевич Гоголь) was born in the Ukrainian Cossack village of Sorochyntsi, in Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire, present-day Ukraine. His mother was a descendant of Polish nobility. His father Vasily Gogol-Yanovsky, a descendant of Ukrainian Cossacks, belonged to the petty gentry, wrote poetry in Russian and Ukrainian, and was an amateur Ukrainian-language playwright who died when Gogol was 15 years old.
In 1820 Gogol went to a school of higher art in Nizhyn and remained there until 1828. It was there that he began writing. Very early he developed a dark and secretive disposition, marked by a painful self-consciousness and boundless ambition. Equally early he developed an extraordinary talent for mimicry which later on made him a matchless reader of his own works.
In 1828, on leaving school, Gogol came to Petersburg. He had hoped for literary fame and brought with him a Romantic poem of German idyllic life – Ganz Küchelgarten. He had it published, at his own expense, under the name of "V. Alov." The magazines he sent it to almost universally derided it. He bought all the copies and destroyed them, swearing never to write poetry again.
Gogol was one of the first masters of the short story, alongside Alexander Pushkin, Prosper Mérimée, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was in touch with the "literary aristocracy", and was taken up by Vasily Zhukovsky and Pyotr Pletnyov, and (in 1831) was introduced to Pushkin.
In 1831, he brought out the first volume of his Ukrainian stories (Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka), which met with immediate success. He followed it in 1832 with a second volume, and in 1835 by two volumes of stories entitled Mirgorod, as well as by two volumes of miscellaneous prose entitled Arabesques. At this time, Gogol developed a passion for Ukrainian history and tried to obtain an appointment to the history department at Kiev University. His fictional story Taras Bulba, based on the history of Ukrainian cossacks, was the result of this phase in his interests.
Between 1832 and 1836 Gogol worked with great energy, though almost all his work has in one way or another its sources in his four years of contact with Pushkin. Only after the presentation, on 19 April 1836, of his comedy The Government Inspector (Revizor) that he finally came to believe in his literary vocation.
From 1836 to 1848 he lived abroad, travelling throughout Germany and Switzerland, as well as spending the winter of 1836–1837 in Paris.
Pushkin's death produced a strong impression on Gogol. His principal work during years following Pushkin's death was the satirical epic Dead Souls. Concurrently, he worked at other tasks – recast Taras Bulba and The Portrait, completed his second comedy, Marriage (Zhenitba), wrote the fragment Rome and his most famous short story, The Overcoat.
After the triumph of Dead Souls, Gogol came to be regarded as a great satirist who lampooned the unseemly sides of Imperial Russia. However, Dead Souls was but the first part of a counterpart to The Divine Comedy. The first part represented the Inferno; the second part was to depict the gradual purification and transformation of the rogue Chichikov under the influence of virtuous publicans and governors – Purgatory.
His last years were spent in restless movement throughout the country. He intensified his relationship with a church elder, Matvey Konstantinovsky. He seems to have strengthened in Gogol the fear of perdition by insisting on the sinfulness of all his imaginative work. His health was undermined by exaggerated ascetic practices and he fell into a state of deep depression. On the night of 24 February 1852, he burned some of his manuscripts, which contained most of the second part of Dead Souls. He explained this as a mistake, a practical joke played on him by the Devil. Soon thereafter he
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