The Letter Killers Club

The Letter Killers Club

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Overview

A New York Review Books Original

The Letter Killers Club is a secret society of self-described “conceivers” who, to preserve the purity of their conceptions, will commit nothing to paper. (What, after all, is your run-of-the-mill scribbler of stories if not an accomplished corruptor of conceptions?) The logic of the club is strict and uncompromising. Every Saturday, members meet in a firelit room filled with empty black bookshelves where they strive to top one another by developing ever unlikelier, ever more perfect conceptions: a rehearsal of Hamlet hijacked by an actor who vanishes with the role; the double life of a merry medieval cleric derailed by a costume change; a machine-run world that imprisons men’s minds while conscripting their bodies; a dead Roman scribe stranded this side of the River Acheron. But in this book set in an ominous Soviet Moscow of the 1920s, the members of the club are strangely mistrustful of one another, while all are under the spell of its despotic President, and there is no telling, in the end, just how lethal the purely conceptual—or, for that matter, letters—may be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590174500
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 12/06/2011
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Edition description: Original
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 971,266
Product dimensions: 5.02(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.46(d)

About the Author

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887–1950), the Ukrainian-born son of Polish emigrants, studied law and classical philology at Kiev University. After graduation and two summers spent exploring Europe, he was obliged to clerk for an attorney. A sinecure, the job allowed him to devote most of his time to literature and his own writing. In 1920, he began lecturing in Kiev on theater and music. The lectures continued in Moscow, where he moved in 1922, by then well known in literary circles. Lodged in a cell-like room on the Arbat, Krzhizhanovsky wrote steadily for close to two decades. His philosophical and phantasmagorical fictions ignored injunctions to portray the Soviet state in a positive light. Three separate efforts to print collections were quashed by the censors, a fourth by World War II . Not until 1989 could his work begin to be published. Like Poe, Krzhizhanovsky takes us to the edge of the abyss and forces us to look into it. “I am interested,” he said, “not in the arithmetic, but in the algebra of life.”

Joanne Turnbull’s translations from Russian in collaboration with Nikolai Formozov include Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Memories of the Future (NYRB Classics), short-listed for the Best Translated Book Award.

Caryl Emerson is the A. Watson Armour III University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University.

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Letter Killers Club 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Voise15 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Undoubtedly an unique literary experience but one, like an earlier reviewer noted, that somehow left me feeling cold. The main characters not designed to evoke empathy but to set up the literary fireworks.There is a wider social and political context to this work and along with some at times challenging literary and intellectual fantasies this adds up to a challenging but ultimately satisfying read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago