The Nose by Nikolai Gogol : A Book Review

The perpetual question that is always asked among contestants at any beauty pageants:

“ If you were given a chance to change any part of your body, what would it be and why?”

The common answer is that they would not change anything as they are satisfied with what they have. But the immortal answer I have ever heard is by our very own Melanie Marquez-Lawyer prior to her winning the title of 1979 Ms. International because of her flaw grammar structure:

” I would not change anything because I am content with my “longlegged (sic) ”.”

For sure, you could have been knocked in the aisle , or at the very least cringed upon hearing her answer if you had been among the audience.

But I have never heard such a question yet :

“ If there is one part of your body that is so indispensable that you are ashamed of without it, what is it? “

Your answer would be_______________?

the noseThis is my first Nikolai Gogol’s masterpiece. I have heard a lot of positive feedbacks about him. So I am glad that I have made time to know him more.

Somehow I had difficulty interpreting the meaning of this said satirical novella. I could not get at the real intention of Nikolai Gogol. The concept is too quirky to understand- a man loses his nose and then becomes anthropomorphic .

Literally, without much knowledge of the Russian socio-political history, the satire could refer to the economic and political status of the officers rose through the ranks at that time . Whatever it may be, I still enjoy it because I find the story amusing. It is so funny that a man of the first rank in society is dog-determined to look for his missing nose around until he turns to the last resort that he will have his abject misery advertised in public , in exchange of a high reward. Besides, I missed reading classics which syntax is old-fashioned and archaic.

To shatter my idle curiosity, I made an effort to search the other critical analyses. To my dismay, little did I realize that in the context of Freudian dreams interpretation, nose could be phallic in nature. So, how would you associate the meaning of the dream with the latent intention of Gogol’s satire? What does a phallus stand for? It could be the desire of the protagonist to look to his laurels since in the story he does not want to get married yet, for he desires to rank higher? Otherwise, if he does not have his “nose” returned, he could be stripped of his rank? If so, well , there is nothing to say more. Enough said!

I would not go without my eyes; I could never pamper myself with the books on my list including Gogol’s.


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