Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 450
Gogol's story ‘‘The Diary of a Madman’’ (‘‘Zapriski sumassehdshago’’), published in 1835, also makes use of the motif of a garment as a status symbol. The story is written in the form of a diary that records the mental deterioration of its writer. At one point the writer, another poor government clerk, believes himself to be the King of Spain, Ferdinand VIII. When he decides to reveal his identity in public, he reasons, ‘‘If only I could get hold of a royal mantle of some sort. I thought of having one made but tailors are so stupid ... I decided to make a mantle out of my best coat which I had worn only twice ... I had to cut my coat to ribbons with the scissors since a mantle has a completely different style.’’
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"The Nose" ("Nos") is another of Gogol's short stories which first appeared in his 1842 Collected Works. Also a satire of bureaucratic life in St. Petersburg, ‘‘The Nose’’ takes a more absurdist or surreal approach than "The Overcoat.’’ It is the story of a minor bureaucrat who struggles to retrieve his nose after it apparently abandons him and takes on the role of a bureaucrat with a higher rank.
The Government Inspector (Revizor) is Gogol's famous stage comedy, first performed in 1836. It is the story of a drifter who is mistaken for a government inspector by the residents of a small provincial town and showered with bribes until the real official appears. Despite its obvious satire of Russian bureaucracy, Czar Nicholas I loved the play and ordered all his ministers to see it. It has been one of the most highly acclaimed Russian plays ever since.
Notes from Underground is a novella written by the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1864. Reminiscent of Gogol's work—"The Diary of a Madman’’ in particular—Notes from Underground is a darkly humorous first person narration of a bureaucrat whose sanity is questionable.
"The Metamorphosis,'' a story written by Franz Kafka in 1915, shows a great deal of Gogol's influence. It is a disturbingly surreal and satirical depiction of Gregor Samsa, a poor office worker who wakes up one day to find himself transformed into an insect.
"Gogol's Wife’’ is a short story published in 1961 by Italian avant-garde writer Tommaso Landolfi. Well-known as a critic and translator of Russian literature, Landolfi creates a fictional narrative to explain the mystery surrounding Gogol's love life. The real Gogol never married and there is little evidence that he ever felt romantic attraction toward anyone. In ‘‘Gogol's Wife,’’ Landolfi makes up some evidence—in the form of an account from a fictional acquaintance/biographer of Gogol's—that suggests that Gogol had a very bizarre love life indeed.