Short Story of May: Always A Strong Smell


Short Story of the Month: “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol

Maybe you’re dealing with work, or school (finals). Maybe you’re eyes are just tired of staring at the screen for too long. Maybe it’s time you take things a little slower as we are nearing the middle of the year.  Oh, the possibilities and reasons are endless for reading a short story today!

Here’s another one: it’s National Short Story Month, the month of the year when bibliophiles, like us, spend our days either privately celebrating by reading a story or writing one. And sometimes, the energy of other bibliophiles will embolden us to step out and read/write short stories together.

We would like to showcase the classic gothic and surreal story of “The Nose” by Gogol. Originally published in September 1836 in a journal called The Contemporary, “The Nose” has garnered much attention and interpretation since then, including scholarly analysis on themes of impotence, identity, autonomy, inconsistencies, and magic realism. Hesitantly published by the Russian author, the farce greatly appealed to its publisher, specifying the fantastical and original plot.

A barber finds a nose at breakfast. A bureaucrat wakes up to learn he’s lost one.  As the bureaucrat, who goes by the name of Kovalyov, hurries about town searching it, we find the nose has a consciousness of its own, walking, riding, and even talking! The anthropomorphism feels at once disarming and whimsical the next. Readers will question the validity of this event, perhaps as an episode of a mad man, a figment of imagination, or a dream sequence on behalf of Kovalyov or even the narrator himself. What does Kovalyov do when he is face to face with his own nose? How was it dislocated? Who did it? It’s up to you to find out some truth or meaning behind the absurdity of losing a nose one normal morning.

You can read here.

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