Originally published in 1835, this is one of two works by Gogol dealing with the "little man" (the other is "The Overcoat"). Of over 150 examples of this genre, these two stories are often considered the most complex, both linguistically and psychologically. Poprischin is not at the bottom of the social ladder; he is a middle-aged, grade nine civil servant, with at least ten minions under him. Nevertheless he is painfully aware of the social gap between himself and his Director and, even more so, between himself and Sophie, the Director's daughter. Poprischin's frustrated love for Sophie drives him into madness, the stages of which are catalogued in diary form. These stages include imagined conversations between dogs and hallucinations set in a Spanish madhouse. This edition is based on the latest critical edition of the text to be published in Russia and follows the 1835 version of the text.