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Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writing of Daniil Kharms

Overview

Daniil Kharms has long been heralded as one of the most iconoclastic writers of the Soviet era, but the full breadth of his achievement is only in recent years, following the opening of Kharms' archives, being recognized internationally. In this brilliant translation by Matvei Yankelevich, English-language readers now have a comprehensive collection of the prose and poetry that secured Kharms’s literary reputation—a reputation that grew in ...
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Overview

Daniil Kharms has long been heralded as one of the most iconoclastic writers of the Soviet era, but the full breadth of his achievement is only in recent years, following the opening of Kharms' archives, being recognized internationally. In this brilliant translation by Matvei Yankelevich, English-language readers now have a comprehensive collection of the prose and poetry that secured Kharms’s literary reputation—a reputation that grew in Russia even as the Soviet establishment worked to suppress it.

A master of formally inventive poetry and what today would be called “micro-fiction,” Kharms built off the legacy of Russian Futurist writers to create a uniquely deadpan style written out of—and in spite of—the absurdities of life in Stalinist Russia. Featuring the acclaimed novella “The Old Woman” and darkly humorous short prose sequence “Events” (Sluchai), Today I Wrote Nothing also includes dozens of short prose pieces, plays, and poems long admired in Russia, but never before available in English. A major contribution for American readers and students of Russian literature and an exciting discovery for fans of contemporary writers as eclectic as George Saunders, John Ashbery, and Martin McDonagh, Today I Wrote Nothing is an invaluable collection for readers of innovative writing everywhere.

About the Editor
MATVEI YANKELEVICH is also a co-translator of Oberiu: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism (2006). His translation of the Vladimir Mayakovsky's poem "Cloud in Pants" appears in Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and About Mayakovsky. He is the author of a long poem, The Present Work, and his writing has appeared in Fence, Open City, and many other literary journals. He teaches Russian Literature at Hunter College in New York City and edits the Eastern European Poets Series at Ugly Duckling Press in Brooklyn.
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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Kharms's playful and poetic work...[draws] critical comparisons to Beckett, Camus, and Ionesco.
Publishers Weekly

In this surprising new collection of Soviet writer Kharms's short pieces, including poetry and journal entries (one of which appeared in the New Yorkerearlier this month), readers will find echoes of Beckett, Ionesco and Kafka, among others. Indeed, Kharms (1905-1942) was part the OBERIU (Association of Real Art), a Soviet artists' collective often described as Absurdist in orientation. A self-proclaimed member of the avant-garde, Kharms made often violent nonsense out of everyday life. In 1931, he was briefly exiled because his work did not promote Socialist Realism, as Yankelovich explains in an informative introduction. Kharms's life suffered a complete reversal after his return, a fact that shows in his writing. There's a youthful showiness to the earliest work that is replaced by a more fierce desperation in the later years, when Kharms often went hungry and knew his work would not be published. The book's wonderfully contradictory title, is in unexpected contrast to the weary resignation of a journal entry: "Today I wrote nothing. Doesn't matter." Yankelovich, who provides the fine translations, makes much of the dramatic possibilities inherent in the work but almost combatively refuses to read any political meaning into his subject's writings, which alternate between playfulness and a sense of futility. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585677436
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 998,693
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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