The Overcoat #4
When an unreliable narrator suddenly...isn't.
I want to talk just a little more, this week, about the voice of “The Overcoat,” and then, next Sunday, we’ll turn more directly to the story itself.
But as we’re discovering, the voice of the story and “the story itself” are intimately linked.
I also want to beg your indulgence for these longish posts – I just really love Gogol and am actively trying to understand him better, selfishly, for the purposes of my own work.
I promise, soon, once we’re done with Gogol, to get pithier and briefer. 😊
We talked, last week, about skaz. The main feature of this style is its imperfection, really – there’s a specific character behind it and he is not precise or wise; he has an agenda; he’s a speechmaker but not a very disciplined one. He is trying to win our favor and is, at times, willing to throw a character (or orderly logic) under the bus to do so.
In this case, I imagine, he’s another bureaucrat, I think, one higher in rank than Akakiy, but not by much. Or maybe he’s a crummy local journalist who fancies himself a novelist; a self-styled chronicler of the life of the city.
But he’s a person, a particular sort of person, and we get the sense pretty quickly that we might want to be wary of his version of events.
So, what’s Gogol’s role in all of this?