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Gogol’s works constitute one of Russian literature’s supreme achievements, yet the nature of their brilliant originality, comic genius, and complex workings is difficult to summarize precisely. The Government Inspector, a perennial favourite on stage and screen, is considered a national institution in Russia, and Gogol’s stories present us with one of the most marvellous worlds a writer has ever created. His quirky characters - the lowly official who imagines himself to be the King of Spain, the man committed to chase his nose around St. Petersburg, a whole village paralyzed at the prospect of being visited by an authority from the capital - are immortal. Although Gogol’s fiction was commandeered by Russia’s progressive critics as the work of an important social commentator, he was in many ways an arch-conservative, and there is a madcap strain in it that makes him a precursor of Kafka and absurdist drama.The corrupt officials of a small Russian town, headed by the Mayor, react with terror to the news that an incognito inspector (the revizor) will soon be arriving in their town to investigate them. The flurry of activity to cover up their considerable misdeeds is interrupted by the report that a suspicious person has arrived two weeks previously from Saint Petersburg and is staying at the inn. That person, however, is not an inspector; it is Khlestakov, a foppish civil servant with a wild imagination. Having learned that Khlestakov has been charging his considerable hotel bill to the Crown, the Mayor and his crooked cronies are immediately certain that this upper class twit is the dreaded inspector. For quite some time, however, Khlestakov does not even realize that he has been mistaken for someone else. Meanwhile, he enjoys the officials' terrified deference and moves in as a guest in the Mayor's house. He also demands and receives massive "loans" from the Mayor and all of his associates. He also flirts outrageously with the Mayor's wife and daughter.
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