|09 August 2017|
Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin was born in St Petersburg. He works as a clerk at some unremarkable (but nonetheless, let’s have no names) government office in his hometown, and gets paid 400 rubles every year for his efforts. There is nothing especially distinguishable or memorable about him, nothing that can be worth a story. But his is the story, written by Nikolai Gogol, which is the subject of the memorable quote ‘We all come out of Gogol’s Overcoat’ – famously attributed to Turgenev, Dostoevsky and other later Russian literary greats.
Bashmachkin is a copying clerk, he likes his job the way you like any regular routine of yours – it is what you do, and you are comfortable doing it. He is good at his job apparently, and is glad to do nothing more than this specific job. His earnings allow him a merely existential standard of living, alone in a small room in the shabbier parts of town. He is content, however, in this small life of his; and the only bit of sadness in his life is the condition of his overcoat – much-used, much-repaired and much-patched-up. When the bitter Russian cold comes along again that year, Bashmachkin takes his overcoat to the tailor, Petrovich, who pronounces the overcoat irreparable, and that Bashmachkin will now have to get another coat.