A Strangely Funny Russian Genius
May 2, 2015 12:48 PM Subscribe
Russia is the funniest country in the world. Some countries, like America and England, are funny mostly on purpose, while others, like Germany and France, can be funny only unintentionally. (But that counts! Being funny is tricky, so any way you do it counts.) Russia, however, is funny both intentionally (Gogol, Zoshchenko, Bulgakov) and unintentionally (Vladimir Putin singing, as he did at a televised event a few years ago, “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill”). Given the disaster Russian history has been more or less continuously for the last five centuries, its humor is of the darkest, most extreme kind. Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.
Daniil Kharms, previously.
"The following is a collection of some of Kharms' wonderfully absurd short stories that I have found in various places on the net."
"Collected works (in Russian, English and German)"
"Welcome to the Searchable Daniil Kharms!"
The Old Woman
In the courtyard an old woman is standing and holding a clock in her hands. I walk through, past the old woman, stop and ask her:The Absolute Nonsense of Daniil Kharms: Translation — Alex Cigale
-- What time is it?
-- Have a look -- the old woman says to me.
I look and see that there are no hands on the clock.
-- There are no hands here -- I say.
The old woman looks at the clock face and tells me: -- It's now a quarter to three.
-- Oh, so that's what it is. Thank you very much -- I say and go on.
Kulakov squeezed himself into a deep armchair and immediately fell asleep. He fell asleep sitting up and several hours later woke up lying in a coffin. Kulakov realized right away that he was lying in a coffin and was seized with a paralyzing terror. With his clouded eyes he looked around, and everywhere, in every direction he could cast his gaze, he saw only flowers: flowers in baskets, bouquets of flowers, wrapped in ribbons, wreaths of flowers, and flowers scattered separately about.More at The New York Times:
“I am being buried,” Kulakov thought to himself, filling with horror, and suddenly felt a sense of pride, that he, such an insignificant person, was being buried with such pomp, and with such a quantity of flowers.
Let us consider Daniil Kharms, the Russian writer often described as an absurdist, largely unpublished in his lifetime except for his children’s books, who starved to death in the psychiatric ward of a Soviet hospital during the siege of Leningrad, having been put there by the Stalinist government for, among other reasons, his general strangeness.The New Yorker:
Born in St. Petersburg in 1905, Daniil Kharms was one of the founders, in 1928, of OBERIU, or Association of Real Art, an avant-garde group of writers and artists who embraced the ideas of the Futurists and believed that art should operate outside the rules of logic. In his lifetime, Kharms produced several works for children, but his writing for adults was not published ... The following texts have never been published in English.The London Review Of Books:
An old woman leans out of her window and, ‘because of her excessive curiosity’, leans too far: she falls to the ground and shatters to pieces. A second old woman leans out of her window to see what has happened to the first – and also leans too far, tumbling to the same fate. More women follow suit (a third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth), a chain that ends only because the narrator of this story, ‘sick of watching them’, breaks off to go to the market.Lapham's Quarterly: "Plummeting old women, masturbation obsessions, false mustaches, and NKVD arrests for subversive children’s literature. Aidan Flax-Clark explores the life of Russian surrealist Daniil Kharms, reading some of his prose miniatures and speaking with translators Anthony Anemone and Peter Scotto about their new book, I Am a Phenomenon Quite Out of the Ordinary: the notebooks, diaries, and letters of Daniil Kharms."
Russia Beyond The Headlines: Daniil Kharms, Master of Deadpan, Father of the Absurd
Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) was the best known nom de plume of Daniil Ivanovich Iuvachev. Daniil Kharms was a poet and writer of sluchay (tales) although later in his career he was only allowed to officially publish children’s literature. Kharms rested on the cusp of oblivion for most of the twentieth century.
"“Professionally” reviewing the work of Daniil Kharms amounts to masochism: it’s violence done against the self. "
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