Did we all came out of Gogol’s “Overcoat”?
There are few lines from books that have proved eternal, and we all know them. “To be or not to be” and “what a work of Art man is”, from Shakespear. “What a tangled web we weave”* by Sir Walter Scott. And “We all came out of Gogol’s overcoat”, by either Turgeneve or Dostyovsky.
It was only yesterday that i realized the very un-eternal quality of the last line. After watching a movie: “The Namesake” (the story of an indian’s boys journey through life, and America, after his father named him “Gogol” – who was reading “The Overcoat” when he went through a train accident, and got spared because of it… I know.. very indian) I wanted to read more on the subject. And what a bummer it was to learn the word “we all came out of Gogol’s overcoat” was referring to neither life, nor anything aesthetic. It was referring to the effect “The Overcoat” had on russian literature, as being the first and foremost of what they are known to become, i.e. “Natualist”!
So next time you go about quoting lines from a movie, think twice. So you won’t end up like “The Namesake”, which just made it to my “$tupid movies” list :-).
*For all of you able to read amharic, here is my attempt at translating “What a tangled web we weave”.
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