In these tales Gogol guides us through the elegant streets of St Petersburg, the city erected by force and ingenuity on the marshes of the Neva estuary. Something of the deception and violence of the city's creation seems to lurk beneath its harmonious facade, however, and it confounds its inhabitants with false dreams and absurd visions - `nothing is what it seems!' warns Gogol.
St Petersburg is also the setting for "Marriage", Gogol's satire on courtship and cowardice. Finally, for "The Government Inspector", indisputably Russia's greatest comedy, we move to the provinces although even here St Petersburg's preoccupation with status and appearances makes its presence felt.