Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with those affected by generations of structural violence. You can help »

Search View Archive

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull with Nikolai Formozov, out now from the New York Review of Books

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."

Joanne Turnbull has translated a number of books from Russian, including Krzhizhanovsky's The Letter Killers Club and Memories of the Future (short-listed for the Best Translated Book Award), both available from NYRB Classics.

from The Autobiography of a Corpse

Journalist Shtamm, whose “Letters from the Provinces” were signed “Etal,” among other pseudonyms, had decided to set out—on the heels of his letters—for Moscow.

ADVERTISEMENTS
close

The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues