The Government Inspector
by NIKOLAI GOGOL
The Government Inspector premiered at the Alexandrinsky Theatre, in Saint Petersburg, in 1836.
A lowly civil servant from Saint Petersburg, Hlestakov, visits a small provincial town, where he’s mistaken for a high-ranking government inspector. The town’s governor and leading officials are terrified lest the extent of their corruption is revealed. Hlestakov exploits the misunderstanding for all it is worth, spinning grandiose tales of his exalted political life while accepting generous bribes from the town officials.
A satirical laceration of the corruption and bureaucracy of Russian government under the tsar, it can be summed up, famously, as the town governor at last turns on the audience to yell, “What are you laughing at? You’re laughing at yourselves!”
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