The Nose is a satirical short story by Nikolai Gogol, subsequently made into an opera by Dmitri Shostakovich. Written between 1835-1836, the story tells of a St. Petersburg official whose nose leaves his face and develops a life of its own.
The story is in three parts:
On the 25th of March, a barber, Ivan Yakovlevich, finds a nose in his bread which he recognises as that of one of his regular customers, Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov. He tries to get rid of it by throwing it in the Neva river, but he is caught by a policeman.
Meanwhile Kovalyov wakes and finds his nose missing. He finds and confronts it in the Kazan Cathedral , but it has acquired a higher rank than him and refuses to return to his face. Kovalyov visits the newspaper office to place an advert about the loss of his nose, but is refused.
He returns to his flat, where the policeman who caught Ivan finds him and returns the nose (which he caught at a coach station, trying to flee the city). Kovalyov's joy is cut short when he finds that he is unable to re-attach the nose, even with the help of the doctor. He suspects that he has been enchanted by a woman called Podtochina, because he would not marry her daughter. He writes to ask her to undo the spell, but she misinterprets the letter as a proposal to her daughter. Her reply convinces him that she is innnocent. In the city, rumours of the nose's activities have spread, and crowds gather in search of it.
On the 7th of April, Kovalyov wakes up with his nose reattached. He is carefully shaved by the barber and happily promenades about the city to show off his nose.
Richard Peace, in his introduction to the OUP edition, notes that the story's title in Russian (Nos) is the reverse of the Russian word for "dream" (Son). As the unreliable narrator himself notes, the story "contains much that is highly implausible", while an earlier version of the story ended with Kovalyov waking and realising that the story was indeed a dream. Peace also notes that some critics have interpreted the story as referring to a castration complex: the removal of Kovalyov's nose (and its developing a mind of its own) threaten both his chances of acquiring a position of power and of being a success with women.
- Peace, Richard. Introduction to Plays and Petersburg Tales by Gogol. Oxford University Press 1995. ISBN 0192835521.
The Nose was a satirical California-based magazine patterned after Spy Magazine.