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An ode to the nose

We are often embarrassed by the protruding olfactory equipment on our faces. But noses shape our loves, lives and memories like no other part of the body

The Nose at the Royal Opera House. Photo: Courtesy ROH

In Nikolai Gogol’s story “The Nose,” a civil servant called Kovalyov wakes one morning to discover his nose is missing; in its place there’s only a smooth, flat space. Without a nose, Kovalyov finds he can’t work, can’t eat, he’s scared even to go outside. As for his girlfriends—well he discovers that noselessness, apart from being a kind of facelessness, seems to imply other, lower, deficits. Worse still, freed from Kovalyov, his nose is swanning around St Petersburg dressed…

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