| Quote #7
The world is full of nonsense. Sometimes what happens is really completely unbelievable. And so, the nose which lately had gone about as a State Councilor and stirred up the city, suddenly reoccupied its proper place (between the two cheeks of Major Kovalev) as though nothing at all had happened. The date was April 7th, and when, that morning, the major awoke as usual, and, as usual, threw a despairing glance at the mirror, he this time, beheld before him, what?—why, the nose again! Instantly he took hold of it. Yes, really, the nose! (3.1)
So what do we make of Gogol classifying what he's been describing as "unbelievable nonsense"? Are we meant to take this seriously? Is Gogol, like, throwing down the genre gauntlet and challenging us to a fight about it?
| Quote #8
To think of such an affair happening in this our vast empire's northern capital! Yet general opinion decided that the affair had about it much of the improbable. Leaving out of the question the nose's strange, unnatural removal, and its subsequent appearance as a State Councilor, how came Kovalev not to know that one ought not to advertise for a nose through a newspaper? […] such a proceeding would have been gauche, derogatory, not the thing. And how came the nose into the baked roll? And what of Ivan Yakovlevitch? Oh, I cannot understand these points—absolutely I cannot. And the strangest, most unintelligible fact of all is that authors actually can select such occurrences for their subject! (3.23-24)
Whoa, Nellie! Now we have not only a bunch of in-story supernatural stuff going on, but also a metafictional bit of the supernatural! (Slow down, there, Shmoop: what does that mean? Well, friends, "metafiction" is a literary device—basically, it's when a piece of art starts being all self-referential, and aware of itself as a work that someone produced. So like, when an actor suddenly turns to the camera and starts talking right to the audience, pointing out that he is in a movie. Or if at the end of the book, we suddenly read that we are coming to the end of the book.) Here, the narrator suddenly points out story problems and then blames the "authors" for them—but… does that mean the narrator has suddenly turned into another reader? Oooooh, spooky.