Monday, November 05, 2007

Overlook Excerpt: From TODAY I WROTE NOTHING by Daniil Kharms

Today we offer a short excerpt from Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms, edited and translated by Matvei Yankelevich. Long heralded as one of the most iconoclastic writers of the Soviet era, Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) was born in St. Petersburg and grew up amidst the Bolshevick revolution. As a young man, he became well known, along with other writers in the OBERIU movement that he founded, as an eccentric poet and performer of the early Soviet literary scene. He died of starvation while incarcerated by the state on suspicion of anti-Soviet activities. Today I Wrote Nothing, just published by The Overlook Press, is the first comprehensive collection of prose and poetry by Daniil Kharms in the English language.


One day Orlov stuffed himself with mashed peas and died. Krylov, having heard the news, also died. And Spiridonov died regardless. And Spiridonov's wife fell from the cupboard and also died. And the Spiridonov children drowned in a pond. Spiridonov's grandmother took to the bottle and wandered the highways. And Mikhailov stopped combing his hair and came down with mange. And Kruglov sketched a lady holding a whip and went mad. And Perekhryostov received four hundred rubles wired over the telegraph and was so uppity about it that he was forced to leave his job.

All good people but they don't know how to hold their ground.

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