Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Inspector General by Nikolai Gogol

The Inspector General by Nikolai Gogol (1842)

A Very Funny Play

Prior Posts on Nikolai Gogol

The Inspector General by Nikolai Gogol (1809 to 1852-Russia-author of Dead Souls) is a  funny drama.   It was a very enjoyable read, easy to follow with sharp  characterizations.  (The version of the play I read -on translated by Thomas Seltzer.   Seltzer -1875 to 1943-was  an American born in Russia who  immigrated along with his parents while he was a young child.    He was a highly regarded translator and founded a publishing company that is credited with introducing the work of D. H. Lawrence to the USA for which he was attacked by puritanical groups.)

The plot is pretty simple.   The mayor and other officials in a small Russian town are thrown into a state of panic when they get an anonymous tip that an inspector general has been sent to do a secret investigation of how the town and the surrounding area are governed.   

The find out that two weeks ago a stranger from St. Petersburg has checked into a local hotel.   They at once assume he is the dreaded Czarist inspector general.   A bad word from him could mean Siberia!    We quickly learn the stranger at the inn is not the inspector general.  He  is just a civil servant with a wild imagination.   All of the officials, especially the mayor and the governor, begin making up to the alleged inspector.   At first the man, Khlestatov,  is so conceited that he thinks it is all because he is just such a quality person.   The mayor and the governor both explain they are very honest men, just taking the minimum bribes so as not to offend anyone.   Khlestatov moves into the house of the mayor.    He begins to request large loans from the mayor and other officials.   He even begins a romance with the mayor's daughter after he moves into his house.   The false inspector decides on the advise of his valet, that he needs to leave town.   The mayor chases after him convinced once his daughter marries the inspector general he will be untouchable.   

I will leave the rest of the plot untold.  

There was a 1949 movie starring Danny Kaye based on this play.   It has been a while since I have seen it but I recall it as funny but overacted.   I would like to see it again now.   

In October I will be posting on two earlier short works of fiction by Gogol for The Classics Circuit.  

I enjoyed this a lot.   This is not a "heavy" thinking type of drama where people launch into 30 sentence long speeches about the nature of God or such.   It is fun and whatever else you get  from it is your bonus.   

Mel u


Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Great post. I never knew that Nikolai Gogol wrote plays or that he had a sense of humor. I definitely have to read something by him soon. :)

@parridhlantern said...

Enjoyed this And Danny Kaye, also liking the picture in the header.

Mel u said...

Daryln (its your move, Dickens), part of Dead Souls are very funny also

Parrish Lantern-thanks-a collage will be back up soon-just experimenting-

ds said...

I can see Danny Kaye in this (as the false inspector?). Gogol was very funny, in his way--"The Nose" for instance--but could also be quite sad. I haven't read this one. But I will. Thank you.

Emma at Words And Peace / France Book Tours said...

Classics Circuit Tour in October on Gogol?? can't see that on Rebecca's site. do you have more information?? Emma @ Words And Peace

Mel u said...

Emma-Oct classics Circuit is on early 19th century Gothic-two of Gogol's short works are on the list of suggested works-

Mel u said...

ds-I hope I can see the Danny Kaye movie again soon-it comes on the Turner Classic network sometimes-"The Nose" is funny and so a lot of Dead Souls