Monday, February 25, 2008

Honors Seniors: Nikolai Gogol's "The Nose"



1. Did you enjoy this short story? Why or why not?
2. Can you identify characteristics of this short story which reflect what you know about Russia and/or Russian history?
3. The story's title in Russian (Nos) is the reverse of the Russian word for "dream" (Son). Why does this make sense in regard to this tale?
4. Compare Gogol's story with the work of another writer, artist or director.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the story, yet at times it was very confusing, especially when the “Nose” transforms into a person. I think the short story is a very creative and interesting piece of work that incorporates a absurd concept into an understandable explanation.
Some characteristics displayed in the short story that reflect Russia and its history are the names Nikolai Gogol uses for the characters such as Ivan Yakovlevich, Prashovya Osipovna, and Collegiate Assesor Kovalyov just to name a few. Also certain characteristics such as the use of handkerchiefs and barber shops reflect upon the time era of when this story takes place.
The story’s title in Russian (Nos) makes sense because the short story ended with Kovalyov waking up and realizing that the story was only a dream and didn’t actually happen. This makes sense in regard to this tale because a nose really couldn’t fall off and transform into a person. However, the author doesn’t come out and say this at the beginning because he wants the reader to enjoy the magical realism and believe that it is actually a realistic narration.
Gogol’s story compared with that of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, is extremely different. Gogol’s story has a more humorous tone, whereas Hosseini wants the reader to believe what he is saying and try to create a picture of Afghanistan. Hosseini’s story takes place in a whole different time period as well as place. Both author’s want the reader to create an image in their mind, yet Gogol’s tale is more unrealistic and not taken seriously whereas Hosseini’s story is very real and has a more serious tone.

Brielle Bowman
English, D

Anonymous said...

I didn't like the short story "The Nose" by Nikolai Gogols. I did find the story to be creative and very different from other stories I have read, but I thought it to be too absurd and silly. Aside from the story plot, I also didn't like the way that the author wrote, at times I found it hard to understand his word and phrasing choice. On many different occasions I had to go back and reread selections, which I found annoying. In the beginning I read that he was a barber, then all through the book he referred to himself as a major (which I didn't even know what that is) I also didn't get how he lost his nose, what I thought was that he woke up like that, but I didn't catch that part I guess. The part I found the most cheesy, was when he actually had a conversation with his nose, and described his nose as having features like eyebrows. I think the main reason why I didn't like this book and why I couldn't get into it was the authors writing. It was hard for me to understand his Russian words and style. I hope we don't read anymore short stories out of that book.

Melissa Graham
Block D

Katrina Idreos said...

1. I actually must say that I did like the short story "The Nose." It was definitely one of the weirdest things I have ever read, which is what made it interesting. Also, the fact that someones nose falling off and coming to life is not possible made it a very unique read.

2. I can't say that I know much about Russian history; however, the names seemed to me to be a dead give away. Also, the use of the characters' full names (ex. Ivan Yakovlevich) is obviously very different from American writing and is supposedly a Russian way of addressing somebody respectfully (Mr., Mrs., etc.)

3. The title makes sense for this tale because the storyline is very dreamlike. You don't hear of somebody losing their nose and then finding out that it has come to life and can walk and talk on its own.

4. This story reminds me of work that Tim Burton tends to do. It is kind of eerie in a sense because the feeling of waking up and missing something as important as your nose is a frightening thing. Also, the fact that the story is very much like a fantasy also reminds me of Tim Burton's fictitious work such "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Sleepy Hollow."

Anonymous said...

I both enjoyed and did not enjoy The Nose. At first it was interesting. I really wanted to continue reading to figure out how the nose ended up in the bread and off the Mayor's face. Then as the Mayor told his story I became less and less interested. Some parts were confusing and did not make sense. Other parts were just very wierd. The names of the characters in the story were a goo give away that this was set in Russia. I don't know anything really about Russian history. Therefore I was not able to pick up on any if there was some in the story. I think that the title has a lot to do with the story. I thought that the story was based on a dream the whole time I was reading it. A nose being off a persons face one day and on another persons face the next day is not reality. I honestly have no idea what I would compare this story/writing to. At some points while reading it remided me of 1984; the police were always around everywhere.

Alyssa Ruta
English D

Anonymous said...

I greatly dislike this story. Not only does it make no sense, in my opinion it is completely childish and is almost written as if too much effort was put into the story. I just don’t understand why Assessor Kovalyov woke up with no nose. I thought it was ridiculous that the barber then finds the nose and decides to throw it into the river. I was kind of confused at this and continued to read on. When it was found in an army mans uniform, it just threw me in a loop. And finally, the ending was rushed. He got his nose but the doctor told him he’s better to leave himself the way he was. But then he woke up with the nose back on. I understood that this was a dream, but I did not enjoy this book.
In its past, Russia was a communist nation. When Assessor Kovalyov lost the nose, and went to the doctor, I felt as though that was the doctor saying he lost his nose for the government or country. And when the nose reattached, I feel that this represented how everyone is equal in communist nations so the nose reattached like everyone else (his dream). I don’t really know too much about Russia but that is what I feel reflects Russia.
This title is necessary for the story because the nose is in my opinion about Assessor Kovalyov’s dream about waking up with his nose unattached and winding up in his barber’s shop. When he awakes from the dream, he thinks his nose is “reattached.” That is why “dream” is a good title for this story.
The story The Nose is very similar to Robert Frost. Frost writes many poems that don’t make too much sense but usually have a twist in the end. Although The Nose was written in story form, I feel as though this could be a poem in Robert Frost’s book. Robert Frost is a children’s writer, but I feel that the nose is a children’s book as wells. This is how they are similar.

-John Cummings

Anonymous said...

Yes, I did enjoy the short story, The Nose. I found it humorous and very different from other short stories we have read in school. I liked the fact that it was an outlandish story much different from anything else I’ve read. It was a much needed break from the standard short stories we generally read in school.

Some characteristics of Russian history in the short story include the horse-drawn carriages and the society ranks such as, state councillor and major.

The story's title in Russian (Nos) and its reverse (Son), the Russian word for "dream", coincide for a few reasons. First, when Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov first awoke to find his nose was omitted, he thought it was simply a dream and nothing more. Also, the story of a nose being separated from someone’s face and taking on the lifestyle of a person is a fantasy or dream-like story. A person can dream up a tale similar to that of a nose gone astray. Therefore the story, The Nose, can easily correspond with that of a vivid dream.

Gogol’s story, The Nose, can be compared to that of Tim Burton’s, The Nightmare before Christmas. In a few scenes, a poorly sewn together rag doll, Sally, gets her arm detached from her body. Although a short clip, Sally’s arm moves on its own; even after becoming separated from the rest of her body. It’s as if it contained a life of its own, like the nose in the short story did. Therefore, the two works can be compared as similar to one another.

Jordan Penney

Anonymous said...

1.) Even though I found the plot very strange, I did enjoy Nikolai Gogol’s short story entitled The Nose. The reader finds the nose in a loaf of bread during the first chapter, while in the second chapter the nose has evolved into a “creature” complete with arms and legs, wearing the attire of a state councilor. This drastic change in the form of the nose was peculiar and had no rhyme or reason. Major, the character whose nose had mysteriously left his face, was not admirable at all. His attitude towards social standing and the manner of bragging about his associates made him deserving of missing his nose.

2.) Although I have limited knowledge about Russian history, I can identify the presence of military uniforms in Gogol’s short story to be symbolic of the proud Russian culture. It is my understanding that the Russian peoples have been militaristic in European history and it is because of great leaders and tsars that the country has been able to flourish.

3.) The events that transpired in “The Nose” could have easily been the product of the Major’s dream. Waking up to find that you had no nose but a smooth surface in its place does sound like something out of a dream. The Major happens to see his nose, in the form of a human, and speaks to his nose while in a church. Later after seeking the help of the newspaper and an inspector, the Major returns home depressed and nose-less. A police officer arrives at the Major’s home with the nose and having several days of sitting in a jar, the nose magically reappears on the Major’s head again. None of this is pragmatic; it is all surreal and dreamlike.

4.) While reading “The Nose”, I thought it reminded me of some short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Both Gogol and Poe have mysterious, dark writing styles and strange plots that seem to happen to just ordinary people without an explanation.


Lauren Southworth
English D

Anonymous said...

I personally did not like Nikolai Gogol’s short story “The Nose” . I found it strange and even though it was really different from other books that I have read I still did not find it relatable. Even from the beginning I did not like the short story it had nothing that interested me and I personally don’t think it sent that good of a message. I understand that it was sending the message that even though your nose isn’t going to fall off and sprout arms and legs and then be able to speak you should be careful not to take things for advantage. This story to me felt really childish and I felt like the author tried to hard and/or had to much time to spend on writing this.

I don’t know much about Russian history but I believe that the names that Gogol used were probably the biggest give away. For example Ivan Yakovlevich, Praskovya Osipovna, Collegiate Assosor Kovalyov, and Khosrev-Mizra. Those are just a few examples of the names. And we have learned in Mr. Kefor’s class that a few of these names are used in terms of respect such as Mr, Mrs, and Ms in our English language. And the way he tells his story is obviously a way that Russian writers write. But I can’t say that for sure because I’ve never read any other Russian writers. But I do know that there was a big representation of social ranks in the story such as all the different names for one person. And in most older countries there were separations of social ranks.

In Russian the word “Nos” for the story is perfect for its direct opposite in Russian “Son” because this whole story is a dream. Realistically your nose will not fall off and be able to speak so that itself seems like a dream. There is nothing in this story that does not seem like a dream. So the title of this story is perfect pertaining to the opposite meaning of the word “nos”.

I think that Gogol’s writing is a lot like Dr. Sues’ in a way because if I was to read this story and it rhymed I would of thought it was one of Dr. Sues’ creation. This story has so many different characteristics of Dr. Sues’ books. It also reminds me of Pablo Picasso in a way because they both have there own weird mind settings.

Alicia Scanlan
Period D

Stephanie Bryant said...

1.) Yes, I must admit that I did, in a weird sort of way, enjoy this short story. I think I liked it so much because it was a change from normality…an aberration, if you will. It was so drastically different from any other piece of literature we’ve ever read before, and kept my interest the entire time seeing how the story line was by far one of the most eccentric I have ever come across in a book, novel, or anything for that matter. I like how it made you think about the author’s possible intended message, and left you asking questions and scratching your head. I also happened to like the odd such quirkiness found throughout the piece and the characters that developed as the story went on.

2.) Some characteristics of this short story that reflect what I know about Russia and/or Russian history would be how class rank was important, and people in positions such as “Collegiate Assessor” and “Major” mattered back then. Also, the story talks about Russian artisans being terrible drunkards, as well as the use of kopecks for currency. One last dead give away would be the names used in the story, which are all clearly Russian.

3.) This makes sense in regard to this tale because throughout the entire story, Kovalyov feels like he’s living a dream, and none of it can be real. He is extremely doubtful throughout the entire story that the events taking place are even taking place in real life, and once he regains his nose, believes even more so that he may just have dreamt the entire thing…that it never actually happened after all.

4.) Gogols’s story reminds me a little of the short story A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, because like that of Kovalyov, Emily too had a fetish with something and/or someone. In The Nose the fetish is with the nose, and in A Rose for Emily it is her dead husband. They also both have a very peculiar story line, and end in such a way as to leave you questioning what just took place and why, and trying to figure out the story’s overall message.

Anonymous said...

I did enjoy reading The Nose by Nikolai Gogol. Before reading it, I was skeptical of a story about just a nose, but once I got into it, it was actually pretty interesting. At first, I wanted to find out where Ivan Yakovlevich would put the nose that he found. When the police officer saw him drop it, I thought he was going to get caught, but eventually he got rid of it without anyone seeing him. Later, when Kovaliov woke up the find that his nose disappeared, I wanted to keep reading to see if he would ever find it. Although the plot was pretty crazy, I felt that The Nose was an interesting story. I don’t know much about Russian history, but if I were to relate anything from The Nose to what I think of Russia it would be when Kovaliov sees his nose in the uniform of a civil counselor on the streets of Russia. The fact that Nos spelled backwards is he Russian word for dream makes sense because all of the events in this story could very easily have been a dream. It is very strange that one day a man woke up with no nose, and dreams can be very strange. I would compare Gogol’s story those of George Orwell. When I read Animal Farm, I remember thinking that this could never happen. Gogol’s story is also very fictitious, and it that manner, both stories are similar. Also, in Orwell’s 1984, the Party is always watching you. In the Nose, Ivan Yakovlevich could not find a place to get rid of the nose because he constantly saw people that he knew.

John Cunniff

Anonymous said...

1. The Nose is a very interesting and strange story. Personally, I did not really enjoy reading it because I thought it was somewhat boring and bland. It was also difficult to follow Gogol’s writing at times.

2. I do not have any important knowledge about Russia or Russian history but it was quite clear that the story took place in Russia based on the names of the characters.

3. The title of the story is appropriate because the entire story is a dream. The reader discovers that nobody has literally lost their nose and the fact that it was a dream makes the story more realistic.

4. Gogol’s writing style is very strange and different. Not many authors would write about losing one’s nose. Therefore, his unique style reminds me of other somewhat mysterious writers such as Edgar Allen Poe.

Brianna Cote
Block D

Anonymous said...

1. I would have to say that i did not like the story. At times it could be interesting and then at other times it got to confusing to understand.
2.I have never read any Russian History so I can not reflect on what I have read in the past.
3.The title has a lot to do with the story because a nose coming to life and talking does not happen in reality.
4.I don't know what I would compare it to.

-Nadya Kaltsunas

Anonymous said...

1. Without a doubt Nikolai Gogol’s, “The Nose,” is one of the most abstract stories I have ever read. It was very hard for me to picture a severed nose coming to life, but sadly, Gogol was able to create that image in my mind. The entire story is just a strange concept to begin with, but his writing style and imagination allow him to pull it off. I didn’t expect it but this is definitely one of my top 10 favorite short stories.

2. Although my knowledge of Russia, its culture and its history, is lacking, there are some elements in this story that are undoubtedly attributed to the country. The names are the first dead giveaway. Not only do they have a Russian spelling to them, but the way people are referred to is dependant on their life and that is definitely a Russian characteristic. Another element I noticed was the militaristic aspect of the story, for some reason my mind attributes Russia with the Soviet Union and for me that was an obvious link.

3. The title fit’s the story because nothing this crazy could possible transpire in this world. When the Major Kovalyov awakes without his nose it can only be the product of a dream. Especially because the next morning he truly wakes up and his nosed is perfectly attached. A dream-like scenario.

4. This short story reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart.” Both stories involve severed piece of the human body causing trouble to some character. The gruesome details in this story can also be considered “Poe-like.” This also reminds me of the recently released movie, “Sweeney Todd.” A film depicting an evil barber tormenting his clients.

Ryan Kok
English D

Anonymous said...

I thought this short story was a really bad choice to read. I feel like it was incredibly pointless of a story, and it also was hard to stay into the book because nothing exciting happened. The most exciting thing happened in the first chapter when Ivan was at the bridge. This story was a disappointment. To tell you the truth I know absolutely nothing about Russia except people in “Boy Meets World” were scared about the Russians and Sputnik during the Cold War. I did learn that kopecks and rubles are part of Russian currency, and I think rubles are worth more. I also learned that there are numerous ranks in Russian society, and when you are addressed by people who are a lower rank, they use your rank as your first name.
I think the reversal of the Russian word is an interesting fact due to this whole could have been a dream. This is because a person could never lose their nose and try to put it back on. That’s just ludicrous and unheard of. Lastly one day when Kovalyov wakes up, his nose just mysteriously appears back on his face. That’s exactly like when you wake up from a dream everything is better. I couldn’t really compare this story to anything because I have never even read anything remotely close to this type of story. This story was so far-fetched that I couldn’t stand reading it. I felt like it was a PBS Kids show where two guys pretend to do the “I got your nose trick”. On the other hand Hosseini’s writing style is totally different. Hosseini uses incomplete sentences as “statement sentences”, smoothly transitions time changes, and focuses on the main character the whole story. Whereas Gogol uses a whole new chapter when he refers to the past and uses two characters as his main focus. Lastly I think the ending was weak because such things like losing a nose and getting a flat face instantly would never happen in this world.

Jeff Moore
Block D

Anonymous said...

1. At the beginning of this story I thought I was actually going to enjoy it, but soon I realized that that would not be the case. I felt that the story basically was a waste of time, simply because the plot was extremely ludicrous, and didn’t make any sense at all. I thought that the names of the characters were extremely hard to keep track of, especially because many of the characters were referred to in more than one way.
2. I don’t know much about Russia or Russian history therefore, I honestly couldn’t make any connections, other than the names that were used. Possibly the structured society that was somewhat highlighted and the strict police also depicted the image I hold of Russia. The time the story took place in was highlighted by the lives the characters lived. Simple things such the barber going to people’s houses and the carriages show that it took place long ago, in a very different time and place.
3. I think that fact that the title of the story is the reverse of the word “dream”in Russian, makes sense in regards to the story. The entire feel of the story is extremely mysterious and nonsensical. Once again I felt that it made no sense, like dreams often do. A nose cannot simply disappear and become human or wind up in peoples bread. These things can only happen in ones dreams. I feel that in order for the story to have any value to me what so ever, it would need to have been a dream(or something of that sort), and therefore have some reason for its absurdness. It seems like this is something the author could have dreamt up, and simply decided to write a story about it.
4. This short story reminded me of the Harry Potter books, because if there ever were a set of stories in which a person’s nose could completely fall off, and be handled the way it was in “The Nose”,it would be Harry Potter. The scenes in which the Major is trying to track down his nose, by putting an advertisement out, as well as when he tries to have the doctor put his nose back on, were very reminiscent of the mystical and magical world created by J.K Rowling.

Lindsay Tilden

Anonymous said...

I did enjoy the story. I actually thought that it was pretty funny. The thought of having just a nose dress up as people and walk around in public is rediculous. The author clearly must have a pretty wild imagination to make something up like that. I wish I could make up nose books like Nikolai Gogol.

Some things in the short story that reflect Russia would definately be the names of the characters that are hard to read. Names such as Collegiate Assesor Kovalyov,and Prashovya Osipovna are clearly names of Russian decent which vibrantly reflect the history of Russia aswell as many other interesting things.

The reason why the title, meaning dream in Russian, makes sense is because the entire tale was based on a dream. Towards the end of the story, Kovalyov wakes up and realizes that he has merely been dreaming the entire time. This part of the story ends much of the confusion built up about the nose. It makes sense that he was only dreaming because that could never really happen. Noses just didn't do those kinds of things back then.

It is hard to compare this short story to anything else I have recently read. Upon reading "1984" and "The Kite Runner", Nikolai Gogol's "The Nose" definately brings in some much needed comic relief. When comparing it to "1984", I think I would have been content with reading a nose book. However, "1984" was definately a very interesting book that I believe everyone needs to read at some point in their lives. I personally just enjoy reading books that are not meant to be taken very seriously. I enjoy stories that make me laugh with joy instead.
- Keith Kelleher

John Anthony Todd I said...

I don't know why everyone is putting down The Nose. I kind of liked it. I think it was comical that the nose wouldn't go back on his face. Then I thought about how bad it would be to not have a nose. Because then you would always have to breath out of your mouth. So you look like a PARIAH because you're sitting there with your mouth open. I don't really know much about Russia, but I think the whole aspect of status is what refers to Russian society. The nose wouldn't go back on his face because he found someone of a higher rank to stay with. That's just low. When I was reading the story I thought it was going to be a dream. He was going to wake up and his nose was going to be back on his face and he was going to be like "wow what a nightmare". But I think the story is supposed to give off that assumption. I guess this is kind of like the headless horseman...because he didn't have a head...

Anonymous said...

1.) I enjoyed the story because it wasn’t your average read. The story was a on the bizarre side, and I liked the switch in genre.
2.) I am not a Russian historian, unfortunately, but it was pretty obvious by names that story took place in Russia, and the use of full names through out the whole novel was an aid in showing Russian culture in the book.
3.) It makes sense because the story itself is very dream like and bizarre piece of literature.
4.) This story reminded me a lot of the Edgar Allen Poe story “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Although the plot was very different, the bizarre and eerie feeling was the same. The obvious connection is the use of body parts as a major factor in the story, but I found the two similar.


-Brian Bettencourt

Katherine Amara said...

Katherine Amara

1. Overall, I did enjoy reading “The Nose”. I like reading unique stories, and I found this interesting to read because it was short, and somewhat meaningless, but at the same time, that is what kept me from putting it down.
2. Unfortunately, I know little to nothing about Russian history, but one thing that I did notice was that the characters placed a lot of emphasis on occupation and rank, and that alone determined how conversations played out. Although I could be wrong, it seemed as though that could be typical of Russian culture.
3. The word “dream” would pertain to this tale simply because it is an unrealistic story, and many parts of the story were somewhat similar to the way a dream would be. The short and “to the point” conversations, the unique plot, and the simplicity of the story all made this comparable to a dream.
4. I think that I could relate this story to two artists. One would be Picasso, just because the idea of not having a nose reminds me of the way that Picasso would distort faces and make the outcome unique, like the writer did with this tale. Another artist that this reminds me of is Vincent Van Gogh. This is only because he cut of his ear for love, but the idea of a missing piece from Van Gogh’s face reminded me of the story.

Brian F said...

1. Honestly, I didn't enjoy reading it that much, but when I thought about it, I found the story very interesting and kind of quirky. It was artsy and that perfect combination of like surrealism and relevance. I liked it, but not reading it, if that makes any sense. What I actually knew, though, that made me even consider reading it was the fact that "The Nose" was made into an opera based on the short story. These are the type of stories that make good, sort of trendy, not using the negative connotation, musicals.
2. Personally, I know Russia was communist. Some Major Kovalyov sounds like a Russian War name or something.
3. Well, for one, the whole thing seems like something out of a dream sequence, so surreal and so random. In dreams, we dream of things for no apparent reason with people we only know slightly. Also, the main character falls asleep and dreams, but it turns out it is real, which is ironic because it seems a dream, and you would typically think the story would end with the whole situation turning out to be a dream. Well, not.
4. If I had to compare it, I am going to compare it to Edgar Allan Poe, no matter how cliche it sounds. Like Gogol, Poe writes these wierd short stories that are very dark yet comic. In Poe, there is weird symoblism, similat to Gogol's Nose

Brian Finney