The case of a runaway Russian nose

The Nose by Nicolai Gogol is a short work of absurdism and surrealism. A fantastic story about how a Russian official wakes up one morning to find that his Nose has assumed a position in the Russian bureaucracy higher than him. This puts him in a delicate position of requisitioning his nose back to restore his decorum.

The premise is so overtly outrageous that one cannot help but try and ferret out allegories around the whole episode. Is it satirizing the fact that anybody can become an official? Or is this work a case in point of the inanities of the then Russian society that attaches values to vain appearances. Is it a critique on the police department and the press which bumbles and refuses to investigate the matter for even more frivolous reasons? It surely must be a commentary on the stratification of the Russian society? Any which way this is such a masterpiece of the novella format that even in the translated version the author’s pacing and tone comes across superbly.

The Art of Nonsense

There are a lot of writers and artists who indulge in the fantastic and the absurd and hide behind the sturdy walls of satire as built by stalwarts like Jonathan Swift and Lewis Carroll. But they are mere pretenders. The Nose is not amongst those. Sadly though, most movies (Bollywood and Hollywood and Tollywood) fall prey to this bastardization of the poetic license. In interviews and carefully edited and scripted “behind the scene” montages, the director and actors analyse their works with a depth that is all too glaringly missing in the final end product. Michael Bay is not convincing anyone that his movie is anything but a teenage adult fantasy or that his characters have an emotional depth deeper than the make-up they wear. eh. Waittasec. I might have shot myself in the foot there.

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