... in TRANSPOSING: ... the story between translation and adaptation - The Nose


By Nikolai Gogol

Transposed from the Russian by Henry Whittlesey
Published by BrooklynRail

Original title: НОС


A really strange event transpired in New York on March 25th.


Real-estate Agent Bill woke up fairly early and went brrrr with his lips – which he always did while waking, although he didn’t have a clue why. Bill stretched and slipped out to go look in the small mirror over the vanity. He wanted to look at a pimple which had popped out on his nose yesterday evening; but to his great astonishment, he saw that instead of a nose, he had a completely flat space! Startled, Bill washed his face with water and wiped his eyes with a towel: There was really no nose! He began to feel about with his hand to make sure he was awake. It seemed he wasn’t sleeping. Real-estate Agent Bill bolted out of the bathroom to a different mirror: No nose!.. Instantly, he dressed and raced straight to the police station.

Yet in the meantime, I need to say something about Bill so the reader can see what kind of real-estate agent he was. Real-estate agents that were conferred this title by an academic degree are totally impossible to compare with real-estate agents who established themselves in Las Vegas. They are two completely different types. Academic real-estate agents...but America is such a fantastic place that if you speak about one real-estate agent, then all real-estate agents, from New York to L.A., are immediately lumped into this group. And the same with regard to professionals and entrepreneurs. Bill was a Las Vegas real-estate agent. He had pursued this profession for just two years and therefore could not forget it for a minute; and to make it more impressive and weighty, he never called himself a real-estate agent, but rather always a broker. “Listen, my friend,” he would say regularly at a party when running into a woman who was handling the catering. “Give me a call at the office; the place is on Pearl Street; just ask whether Broker Bill works there? Anyone will show you.” And if he met a cutie, then he would give her, on top of that, a secret command, adding: You, Diana or Sally or Kate, should ask for Broker Bill’s suite.” For exactly this reason, we too will call this real-estate agent a broker below.

Continue reading here or in the first collection of transpositions titled From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin.