This story takes place in a bucolic small town of Mirgorod (Myrhorod in Ukrainian), written in the style featuring grotesque, realistic portrayals of the characters. The two Ivans are gentlemen landowners, neighbors and great friends, each one almost being the opposite image of the other. Ivan Ivanovich is tall, thin, and well-spoken, for example, while Ivan Nikiforovich is short, fat, and cuts to the point with a biting honesty.
One day, Ivan Ivanovich notices his friend's servant hanging some clothes out to dry as well as some military implements, especially a Turkish rifle that interests him. He goes over to Nikiforovich's house and offers to trade it for a brown pig and two sacks of oats, but his friend is unwilling to part with it and calls Ivan Ivanovich a goose, which terribly offends him. After this, they begin to hate each other.
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About the Author
Novelist, dramatist, and satirist Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was a Russian writer of Ukrainian ancestry whose works deeply influenced later Russian literature through powerful depictions of a society dominated by petty bureaucracy and base corruption. Gogol’s best-known short stories — "The Nose" and "The Overcoat" — display strains of Surrealism and the grotesque, while his greatest novel, Dead Souls, is one of the founding books of Russian realism.