King Of Time / Edition 1

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Overview

Khlebnikov, who died in 1922 at the age of thirty-six, is one of the great, untranslated Russian poets of this century. Hailed by his contemporaries and by later writers and scholars as the creative genius behind the Russian Futurist movement, Khlebnikov is famous more for his inaccessibility than for the excellence of what he actually produced. Even Russians are generally baffled by him.

Now, in a powerful American rendition, we are given access to the strange and beautiful world of Khlebnikos "the word's wild highwayman." Trained in the natural sciences and mathematics and by temperament an artist, Khlebnikov thought he had discovered the Laws of Time and Tables of Destiny, by which enlightened humans could live in harmony with themselves and with nature. He coined the terms "Futurian" and "Presidents of Planet Earth" for himself and his friends, and he devoted all of his short, restless life to finding a language appropriate to his vision. Experiments with words became magical paths to a reinvigorated future, and produced some of the most extraordinary poems in the Russian language.

These goals and researches were variously embodied as well in stories, plays, and visionary essays in which Khlebnikov advances architectural plans for mobile cities, a new alphabet based on universal meanings of sounds, and communication by way of vast television networks. The result is poetry of startling originality, modernity, and linguistic virtuosity--a true challenge to translators and one that has been met brilliantly here by Schmidt and Douglas.

The King of Time is a representative sampling of Khlebnikov's writings, taken from the translation of his complete works now in preparation under the auspices of the Dia Art Foundation. It includes many pieces, among them the full text of the astounding poem-play Zangezi, never before translated. General readers will be introduced to the legendary Khlebnikov, and cognoscenti will applaud the inventiveness of the rendering.

Paul Schmidt, translator of Rimbaud and Mayakovsky among others, and Charlotte Douglas, an art historian who specializes in the Russian avant-garde, are Director and Senior Research Scholar, Khlehnikov Translation Project, Dia Art Foundation.

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Editorial Reviews

New Republic - Joseph Brodsky
At times [Khlebnikov's] verse sounds like what birds presumably heard from St. Francis. Under his pen, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions undergo mutations as mind-boggling as those of a cell hit by immense radiation. Beautiful or grotesque, the results are often memorable...diamonds of an unparalleled splendor.
Times Literary Supplement - Peter France
He was surely one of the most remarkable practitioners in language who has ever written. He seems to inhabit the very heart of his language, exploring its roots, making it send up new and wonderful growths...The foreigner who knows Russian can glimpse this and admire the marvels of Khlebnikov's language, though never with the inwardness of the native speaker. But what of those who approach him through translation? Can they come to see the importance and beauty of his work? This is the challenge taken up by Paul Schmidt, the translator of the proposed complete works, and he rises to it nobly.
New York Times Book Review - Elliott Mossman
The King of Time...represents a deft feat of translation...It offers readers the chance to imagine, experience and restore the full analogy between pictorial and verbal creation.
New Republic

At times [Khlebnikov's] verse sounds like what birds presumably heard from St. Francis. Under his pen, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions undergo mutations as mind-boggling as those of a cell hit by immense radiation. Beautiful or grotesque, the results are often memorable...diamonds of an unparalleled splendor.
— Joseph Brodsky

New York Times Book Review

The King of Time...represents a deft feat of translation...It offers readers the chance to imagine, experience and restore the full analogy between pictorial and verbal creation.
— Elliott Mossman

Times Literary Supplement

He was surely one of the most remarkable practitioners in language who has ever written. He seems to inhabit the very heart of his language, exploring its roots, making it send up new and wonderful growths...The foreigner who knows Russian can glimpse this and admire the marvels of Khlebnikov's language, though never with the inwardness of the native speaker. But what of those who approach him through translation? Can they come to see the importance and beauty of his work? This is the challenge taken up by Paul Schmidt, the translator of the proposed complete works, and he rises to it nobly.
— Peter France

Journal of Russian Studies
Aiming to produce a 'new text' rather than an imitation of the original, [Schmidt] has explored his own language in the same spirit in which Khlebnikov burrowed like a mole into the Russian word. Schmidt's inventiveness often rivals the Russian of the original.
New Republic
At times [Khlebnikov's] verse sounds like what birds presumably heard from St. Francis. Under his pen, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions undergo mutations as mind-boggling as those of a cell hit by immense radiation. Beautiful or grotesque, the results are often memorable...diamonds of an unparalleled splendor.
— Joseph Brodsky
New York Times Book Review
The King of Time...represents a deft feat of translation...It offers readers the chance to imagine, experience and restore the full analogy between pictorial and verbal creation.
— Elliott Mossman
Times Literary Supplement
He was surely one of the most remarkable practitioners in language who has ever written. He seems to inhabit the very heart of his language, exploring its roots, making it send up new and wonderful growths...The foreigner who knows Russian can glimpse this and admire the marvels of Khlebnikov's language, though never with the inwardness of the native speaker. But what of those who approach him through translation? Can they come to see the importance and beauty of his work? This is the challenge taken up by Paul Schmidt, the translator of the proposed complete works, and he rises to it nobly.
— Peter France
Library Journal
An English edition of the works of Veli mir Khlebnikov 1885-1922 is especial ly welcome now that the Russian liter ary and linguistic theorists are finally receiving due attention. Khlebnikov's essential ``Futurist'' credo was that words, even letters, are to be employed without regard to conventional usage and expected meaning. Accordingly, he experimented with new forms, meters, and use of sound and patterns. This vol ume's selection ranges from his poetry, short fiction, and essays to an excerpt from his numerological/mathematical study of destiny, as impenetrable and brilliant as Yeats's Vision , to an idio syncratic ``supersaga'' full of the puns, neologisms, and word play which the translator copes with intelligently and humorously. For most academic librar ies. Natalie C. Tyler, formerly with Univ. of Rochester Lib., N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674505162
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1990
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Schmidt is the winner of the Max Hayward Prize for his translation of Velimir Khlebnikov, The King of Time: Selected Writings of the Russian Futurian (Harvard).
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Poems

PART 1: Fictions

1. Mrs. Laneen

2. The World in Reverse

3. Usa-Gali

4. Nikolai

5. K

6. October on the Neva

PART 2: Projects for the Future

7. "Let them read on my gravestone"

8. The Word as Such

9. The Letter as Such

10. !Futurian!

11. The Trumpet of the Martians

12. An Appeal by the Presidents of Planet Earth

13. Ourselves and Our Buildings. Creators of Streetsteads

14. The Head of the Universe. Time in Space

15. To the Artists of the World

16. On Poetry

17. The Radio of the Future

18. A Cliff Out of the Future

Excerpt From The Table of Destiny

Zangezi: A Supersaga In Twenty Planes

Chronology

Indexes

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2004

    The messenger

    'The end of times has come and you are its messenger angel' - said Andrei Belii to velimir Khlebnikov. And those who will read the books of Khlebnikov will agree. There is a strange feeling of 'ilo tempore' in Khlebnikov's works that makes us tremble. In my humble opinion, Khlebnikov is the 22st century's writer. The writer of the NEXT century. French critique had discovered him with enthusiasm. Even his works may seem uncomprehensible, the hard working reader will share an unique vision of Time and Being.

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