Wednesday, October 8

The Overcoat

Gogol paints a humorous, yet tragic tableau of the short government official with the bald patch; the tragedy is perhaps most poignantly comprehended in one early digression of the tale. Akaky Akakievich, despite his unfortunate outcome and -- as Gogol writes, miniscule if at all existant, impact on the mundane proceedings of Petersburg -- leaves a considerable dent in one young chinovnik's conscience:

...He exclaimed: "Leave me alone, why do you torment me?" And something strange was lodged in the words and the voice with which they were uttered. In them you could hear something so persuasive to pity that one young, recently employed man, having taken his fellows' example and allowed himself to make fun of Akaky, suddenly stopped, and something changed before him and appeared of another kind. Some unseen force pushed him away from the comrades he had acquainted under the premonition of them being decent, gentle people. And long afterwards, amidst his happiest moments, the short, bald government official appeared before him, with his stirring words: "Leave me alone, why do you torment me?" In these stirring words resounded another phrase; "I am thy brother." And many times in the course of his life, the poor, young man, covering himself with his hand, shuddered at seeing how much inhumanity there is in man, how much ferocious crudity is hidden in refined, educated gentleness, and -- God! even in that man whom the world knows as noble and discreet.


  1. Omg. This is such a wonderful, romantic, totally inexplicable coincidence; I don't know from where I received the link to your blog, but I began to read it just the other day (I love it, btw), around the same time as I finished reading the overcoat, seconds ago, i was laying in my bed, feeling disappointed that no one I know read it.

  2. I'm glad! We read and translated it for class, it is so tragic and humourous all the same.