June 28, 2020

The Nose Knows



The Nose Knows
A scene from the opera. The Royal Opera (Youtube)

Dmitry Shostakovich was just 20 when he began writing The Nose, his operatic debut. It took him about a year to turn to a tiny short story by Gogol into a masterpiece. Gogol's story is an absurdist satire, in which a civil servant wakes up one day to find that his nose has left his face and launched its owner on a ludicrous battle against both nose and the authorities, as bureaucratic processes break down in the face of so unusual a problem.

Shostakovich’s opera is a work of exuberant energy, full of musical jokes and grotesque parody. This video shows the tap-dancing noses of The Royal Opera's 2016 production. Enjoy! Heaven nose, it's not every day you can see nostrils with such flare...

You Might Also Like

Dmitry Shostakovich
  • September 01, 2006

Dmitry Shostakovich

A short biography of the composer whose life was continually challenged by the Powers That Be.
Pushkin's Heir
  • October 01, 1999

Pushkin's Heir

Mikhail Lermontov is often called "Russia's second greatest poet," after Alexander Pushkin. And there is more that the quality of their art in common between the two writers.
The Genius of Shostakovich
  • September 01, 2001

The Genius of Shostakovich

No musician in the 20th century has been more judged for what he wrote--versus what he composed or performed--than Shostakovich. We asked one of the participants in the controversy surrounding the prolific composer's biography to fill us in.
Gogol
  • April 01, 1999

Gogol

Nikolai Vassiliyevich Gogol was born, appropriately for a satirist, on April 1, 1809, in the Poltava Gubernia of Maloros (“Little Russia,” later officially named Ukraine).
The Poet of Laughter
  • April 01, 1999

The Poet of Laughter

Russian Life visits with a leading expert on Nikolai Gogol, to consider the writer's legacy and influence.
Nabokov on Gogol
  • April 01, 1999

Nabokov on Gogol

Comparing the two authors, who stand as literary bookends for the 20th century.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
At the Circus

At the Circus

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
The Best of Russian Life

The Best of Russian Life

We culled through 15 years of Russian Life to select readers’ and editors’ favorite stories and biographies for inclusion in a special two-volume collection. Totalling over 1100 pages, these two volumes encompass some of the best writing we have published over the last two decades, and include the most timeless stories and biographies – those that can be read again and again.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
The Spine of Russia

The Spine of Russia

This coffee table book is the photographic journal of an epic 6000-kilometer road trip. The book includes over 200 compelling images of Russians and Russian places met along the way, plus a dozen texts (in both English and Russian) on everything from business to education, from roads to fools.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts


Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

800-639-4301
802-223-4955