The Government Inspector
“I invited you, Gentlemen, to deliver the most unpleasant news: we’re to expect a visit from an Inspector…”
Life has been good for the officials of a provincial Russian town. Extortion, bribery, neglect of duties and purposeful mismanagement have been thriving for many years. But suddenly their way of life is threatened by the news that an Imperial government official is travelling incognito on a secret mission to investigate their district. On hearing the news, the Town Governor instructs the Warden of Charities, the Doctor, the Judge, the Police Chief and all other officials to get their departments in order. Nightcaps must be clean and fewer patients are to lie in the hospital, hunting whips are to be removed from the Courthouse, lawyers must not smell of vodka, and the school teachers, no doubt very clever people, must contain themselves and not break up chairs in animated excitement.
The Government Inspector, written in 1836, is firmly established in the Russian repertoire and has never left the world stage. To create his set of delightfully grotesque characters, Gogol later wrote that he decided to take everything bad that he knew about Russia at that time and bring it together into one heap to create a satire not just on corrupt officialdom, but of Man himself.
“Don’t blame the mirror if it’s your mug that’s crooked” – A Proverb
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