Prose, Plays, and Supersagas

Prose, Plays, and Supersagas

4.85 (20 ratings by Goodreads)
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Velimir Khlebnikov, who died in 1922 at the age of thirty-six, is one of the great innovators of literary modernism. In Russia a powerful and growing mythology surrounds this Futurist poet and his reputation elsewhere continues to mount.

The second volume of the Collected Works consists of Khlebnikov's fiction (thirty-five short stories, dreams, mysteries, and fanciful folktales), his plays, and his unique supersagas, a syncretic genre he created to encompass his iconoclastic view of the world. Paul Schmidt's are the first translations of these works into English. They chronicle the artist's imagination in his feverish search for a poetics that could be as diverse as the universe itself.

The fictions, ranging from the mysterious "Murksong" to the epic "Yasir," show a great variety of styles and themes. But it is in the dramatic text that we best see Khlebnikov's struggle to find a workable form for his vision. The Girl-God, symbolist-inspired, is a melange of stylistic shifts and impossible scene changes. In The Little Devil, The Marquise des S., and the sardonic Miss Death Makes a Mistakes, Khlebnikov finally finds a stageable theatrical form, in a mixture of satire, colloquial speech, and poetic reflections on art and immortality. The dramatist reaches even higher in the supersagas Otter's Children and Zangezi, achieving a Wagnerian fusion of action, poetry, history, theory, and the musical rhythms of incantation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 403 pages
  • 155 x 230 x 23.88mm | 766g
  • Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.], United States
  • English
  • Reprint 2014 ed.
  • 0674497937
  • 9780674497931

Review quote

[These stories] cover an extraordinary variety of topics--e.g., nature, science, mathematics, politics, folklore, and history. Most are presented in a whimsical style that reflects Khlebnikov's marvelous imagination and gift for mythopoeia...[This is] an impressive volume of one of Russia's most erudite and original writers who is only now receiving his due recognition in his homeland. Highly recommended.

The volume represents the second installment in the monumental task which Paul Schmidt undertook in bringing the entire body of Khlebnikov's works to the English-speaking audience. It shows that the difficulties in understanding Khlebnikov's works arise not so much from his unusual vocabulary and syntax, but from the complexity of his philosophy, his vision of the world, history, and time; from the complexity of the mythopoeic system which the poet created in his works...Schmidt's [are] masterful rendition[s] of Khlebnikov's verbal experiments.

The current volume in the series of Paul Schmidt's masterful translations of Khlebnikov includes all the published artistic prose, plays, and sverkhpovesti (supersagas)...What most distinguishes Schmidt's work is its high literary merit as a whole. His translations are a pleasure to read for their own sake, independent of the fact that they are successful renderings of challenging explorations by one of the great pathfinders in modern literature. We might note as a part of the picture that rarely is a translator required to invent words in English in order to do justice to an original text, but in Khlebnikov one must do this constantly and Schmidt is brilliant at it...Khlebnikov's prose is as verbally rich and full of coinages as his poetry, so this talent is needed throughout the volume, as is a talent for reproducing soundplay...In sum, another coup for Paul Schmidt.
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About Ronald Vroon

Schmidt Paul

Paul Schmidt is the winner of the Max Hayward Prize for his translation of Velimir Khlebnikov, The King of Time: Selected Writings of the Russian Futurian (Harvard).Vroon Ronald

Ronald Vroon is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UCLA.
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20 ratings
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