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This story is about a guy who lost his nose and goes on a search for it. How often does this happen?! Not often, so it is a perfect example of Absurdity because it describes events that we know cannot happen in real life. Although it is narrated in the most realistic way it uses elements of the ABSURD and FANTASTIC.
The story was written long ago and is set in Russia (see images of the town in the story: http://www.faculty.virginia.edu/dostoevsky/texts/nose.html ). But it’s a timeless story that applies to any society at any time. The idea about a lost nose plays on many people’s neurotic fear of losing or damaging one’s nose, or that something is wrong with their face. This is what happens to the central character Kovalev who suffers many embarrassments and has to search for his nose in the most ridiculous places.
Like with other stories we read, this one is also a SOCIAL SATIRE which makes fun of moral faults (like vanity) and social behaviors. Absurdity here is a fun way to satirize human beings and their flaws. As with the previous story by Garcia Marquez, it is narrated in the most realistically believable way, so it leaves you with a feeling that it can happen to anyone. Lastly, this story centers around one absurd event but there are many others that are merely incongruent. Do you remember the difference between Absurdity and Icongruity? The first challenges reason/logical thinking while Incongruity is based on things that are merely contradictory or incompatible but not entirely illogical. Can you find incongruent events in the story?
Illustration: look at this Nose walking: https://faculty.virginia.edu/dostoevsky/texts/hisownnose.html
Answer the following :
1. This story is full of both : very absurd (=not possible) and merely incongruent episodes. What’s the difference between the two, in your own words? Can you provide an example for each from the story?
2. Although the story is about a lost nose, it contains social satire that makes fun (criticizes) social/moral attitudes, behaviors and habits of people that can be encountered in our own world. Give one example of such satire and explain it. Can you encounter people today who show the behaviors depicted by the characters?
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