The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Gogol
“The Nose”

“The Nose” is from The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol (Vintage Classics).  Gogol wrote the story between 1835 and 1836 while he lived in Petersburg, supporting himself in minor governmental jobs and writing for periodicals.  Although he was interested in literature, he also tried to become an actor.


More than in any other Gogol story, “The Nose” displays Gogol’s extraordinary ability to make great comic art out of the absurd.   The story is also one of the first examples of the unreliable narrator, who himself admits that the story “contains much that is highly unreliable.”  Gogol’s prose is characterized by imaginative power and linguistic playfulness.  He exposes the grotesque in human nature.


Nikolai Gogol was born in Sorochintsi, Ukraine, and grew up on his parents’ country estate.  His real surname was Ianovskii, but the writer’s grandfather had taken the name ‘Gogol’ to claim a noble Cossack ancestry.  Gogol’s father was an educated man who wrote plays, poems, and prose sketches, which influenced his son.  Gogol published his first volume of Ukrainian stories in 1831 and it met with immediate success.  He followed it in 1832 with a second volume.  His worked influenced generations of Russian writers.  Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “We all came from Gogol’s overcoat.”


He died in 1852 and is buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetary.

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