Monday, April 1, 2013

Sniffing Around: The Nose by Nikolai Gogol

Can character be measured by a nose? In The Nose, a short story by Nikolai Gogol, a human olfactory appendage is the protagonist. It makes its debut inside a loaf of bread at the breakfast table of a barber. The incident may not be in good taste, but the implications of a missing nose in Gogol's story is loaded with metaphor; some nuanced and some, well, let's just say you should read the satirical story in its entirety for the full effect.

Mordicai Gerstein, known for illustrating children's books, directed and designed an animated version of Gogol's short story. The film is called A Nose and was released in 1966. It continues to charm fans of animation made by hand.

Gogol's The Nose also inspired composer Dimitri Shostakovich who wrote an opera based on the satirical short story early in his career. Glass Petal Smoke recommends the recording by the Mariinski Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, for the pleasure of your ears.

Will a perfume based on Gogol's The Nose appear in the near future? If it does it could kick-start a noseology genre in fine fragrance as there is no shortage of "nose" inspired literature. Someone could pick up where Salvador Dali and his infamous perfume left off...

Major Kovalyov's nose returned to his face on April 7th following various escapades in Nikolai Gogol's The Nose. It made its detached appearance on March 25th.

Noseology is a literary sub-genre that appeared in Russia between 1820 and 1830. Lauren Lydic calls out the sub-genre in her essay, "'Noseological' Parody, Gender Discourse, and Yugoslav Feminisms: Following Gogol's 'Nose' to Ugrešić's 'Hot Dog on a Warm Bun'."

Salvador Dali was good friends with Elsa Schiaparelli. They collaborated on several fragrances utilizing Dali's expertise as an artist.

Google decided to play an olfactory April Fool's joke on its site today. It introduced Google Nose Beta, "promising a fragrant Google experience." The olfactory inclined will enjoy the humor which infuses the page, (it also includes a video featuring Product Manager John Wooly). Has the culture of smell has made a mark in the digital space? Stay tuned...