Transposition: The transposition of character/consciousness in The Nose

Difference and subtle guidance

The husband and wife’s dialog in part one reflects a variety of peculiarities in their mentality:

Michele/Ivan Yakovlevich (hereinafter Michele Yakovlevich when reference is made to both the character in the original and in transposition) is influenced by his/her spouse through the smell of something -> Michele Yakovlevich accepts this influence, but asserts him/herself by preemptively rejecting something that is likely (here bacon/coffee)

By transposing the content, the reader is not distracted by the material differences between Gogol’s time and ours. Bringing the form closer to contemporary practice in English attenuates the difficulties of comprehending the text.

Conflict between husband and wife

While the reason (the discovered nose) for the combative exchange between husband and wife is somewhat fantastic, the act of disagreement or even fighting in an otherwise familiar context prevents us from dismissing such a relationship as “Russian”, “past”, “unhealthy”, etc.

Universals and generalizations

This is also a central element of peripateticism. In Gogol’s Nose we encounter a funny one:

Иван Яковлевич, как всякий порядочный русский мастеровой, был пьяница страшный.
(Ivan Yakovlevich, like every proper Russian master, was a raging alcoholic.)

As with all generalizations and universals, this one is framed in a particular context. It applies to professionals. Certainly, there will be exceptions that the postmodernists will scream about as proof of the generalization being false. Here is the transposition so they can throw another fit:

Michele, like many a good American professional, was a friendly contrarian.

In the text, this is followed by an exemplification of her/his contrarian character. This structure mirrors the nineteenth century relationship between the omniscient narrator/author and their narrative, which was certainly abandoned in the personal (internal) “showing” narration of psotmodernism and neorealism (e.g. Oates). In transposition, consequently, we enjoy a revival of former macro structures, as even a transposition of form could not incorporate the alteration necessary to remove the duality of omniscient and personal narration. In general, it is possible, but then the narrative becomes an adaptation.

By transposing the generalization from alcoholics to contrarians, the collager (transposer) again lets the reader consider what overall statements can be made in our time, without dismissing them as a relic of the past.
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