March 14, 2020

The Government Inspector Gets a Monument


The Government Inspector Gets a Monument
A tale worthy of a statue. Andrew Krizhanovsky, public domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Vologda Oblast government plans to give Nikolai Gogol's officious Khlestakov (or, rather, his historical analog) his own monument.

This seems strangely appropriate, if a little ironic.

Regional authorities announced that the monument will be added with the renovation of the market square in the town of Ustyuzhna. The square will sport a new fountain and historic center in addition to the Inspector monument. Funds for the projects total R40 million ($560,000) and may increase. "This is our story, and we want to perpetuate it," regional head Igor Petrov told a local news agency.

We're not sure if that's something to be proud of.

Gogol's play The Government Inspector (or, in Russian, «Ревизор»; also often translated as The Inspector General), is a highly-readable comedy of errors. In it, a provincial Russian town anxiously anticipates the arrival of the titular official; when a lowly and ostentatious civil servant arrives and charges a large tab at local establishment to the crown, the townspeople assume that he is the inspector, and trip over themselves in an attempt to impress him.

The tale is, reportedly, based on an anecdote told to Gogol by his colleague Alexander Pushkin, about a similar event that took place in Ustyuzhna.

This doesn't seem like something for a town to be proud of, but who are we to judge?

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