Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #4

Then [Kovalev] halted as though riveted to earth. For in front of the doors of a mansion he saw occur a phenomenon of which, simply, no explanation was possible. Before that mansion there stopped a carriage. And then a door of the carriage opened, and there leapt thence, huddling himself up, a uniformed gentleman, and that uniformed gentleman ran headlong up the mansion's entrance-steps, and disappeared within. And oh, Kovalev's horror and astonishment to perceive that the gentleman was none other than—his own nose! (2.11)

You guys, did you crack up at this? Yeah, us too. Just the mental work necessary to picture a nose in a uniform? Somehow getting out of a carriage? Meaning… does it now have feet and stuff? So funny.

Quote #5

"Already it had entered a stagecoach, and was about to leave for Riga with a passport made out in the name of a certain civil servant. And, curiously enough, I myself, at first, took it to be a gentleman. Luckily, though, I had my eyeglasses on me. Soon, therefore, I perceived the 'gentleman' to be no more than a nose. […]"

"Do not trouble, sir. Knowing how greatly you stand in need of it, I have it with me. It is a curious fact, too, that the chief agent in the affair has been a rascal of a barber who lives on the Vozkresensky Prospekt, and now is sitting at the police station. For long past I had suspected him of drunkenness and theft, and only three days ago he took away from a shop a button-card. Well, you will find your nose to be as before."

And the officer delved into a pocket, and drew thence the nose, wrapped in paper. (2.106-110)

Hilarity again, guys. (1) The nose changes in size so crazily that it's impossible to actually visualize any of the ostensibly visual descriptions: first it's big enough to look like a person, then it's clearly a nose, and then it's back to regular nose size and fits in a pocket. (2) The cop is so near-sighted that he can't tell the difference between a nose and a human? Wha??? (3) The cop returns the nose just as if it were a wallet or something, no biggie. Are there other incongruous or strange details here?

Quote #6

Everyone's mind was, at that period, bent upon the marvelous. Recently experiments with the action of magnetism had occupied public attention, and the history of the dancing chairs of Koniushennaia Street also was fresh. So no one could wonder when it began to be said that the nose of Collegiate Assessor Kovalev could be seen promenading the Nevsky Prospekt at three o'clock, or when a crowd of curious sightseers gathered there. Next, someone declared that the nose, rather, could be beheld at Junker's store, and the throng which surged thither became so massed as to necessitate a summons to the police […] Next, word had it that the nose was walking, not on the Nevsky Prospekt, but in the Taurida Park, and, in fact, had been in the habit of doing so for a long while past, so that even in the days when Khozrev Mirza had lived near there he had been greatly astonished at the freak of nature. This led students to repair thither from the College of Medicine, and a certain eminent, respected lady to write and ask the Warden of the Park to show her children the phenomenon, and, if possible, add to the demonstration a lesson of edifying and instructive tenor. (2.136-138)

The nose as perfect tabloid fodder! Gotta love the slippage here between (1) a supernatural phenomenon (the nose is another freak show thing like possessed chairs), (2) celebrity sighting magnet (Nevsky Prospect is the place to see and be seen in St. Petersburg), and (3) teachable moment (for children and med students alike!). Another great example of just how magical realism happens—the walking-around nose is ostensibly really actually happening in the world, but this wondrous event is treated as though it were just the usual, run-of-the-mill nonsense that fills the gossip pages.

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