What does the genre of magical realism bring to this short story? Could the impact of the story be the same if the fantastic parts of the story had been replaced with something more realistic? Why or why not?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Nose" is a famous and influential short story written by the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol (usually known simply as Gogol), in which the protagonist's nose leaves his face and "lives" on its own, eventually becoming more successful than the protagonist, a government official.

It is difficult...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

"The Nose" is a famous and influential short story written by the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol (usually known simply as Gogol), in which the protagonist's nose leaves his face and "lives" on its own, eventually becoming more successful than the protagonist, a government official.

It is difficult to explain what magical realism brings to the story, as the story was written in the 1830s, and the term magical realism wasn't introduced until the 1920s, later becoming associated with Latin American writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Amado. Of course, that isn't to say Gogol doesn't have something in common with writers of that school.

Gogol is more often described as surreal, grotesque, absurdist, or satiric. Gogol's story does share with magical realism a matter-of-fact approach to fantastic events, namely the nose escaping the man's face and obtaining a higher rank than him. Without this device, there would simply be no story, so Gogol's break with conventional realism is essential to his story. The impact would absolutely not be the same without it; such a story would have a totally different premise or simply would not exist. It is, after all, called "The Nose."

More pertinent and provocative questions might be how Gogol's style and choice of material influenced magical realism or why Gogol chose to use the device of the nose. For more information on Gogol, you might want to pick up fellow Russian Vladimir Nabokov's book on him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team