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The Man with the Black Coat: Russia's Literature of the Absurd

4.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  214 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
This book brings together works by two of the outstanding talents of Soviet literature, Daniil Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky. It discloses a little-known tradition of absurdism that persisted during the Stalinist period, a testimony to both the hardiness of the Russian imagination in the face of socialist realism and the vitality of an important cultural and literary trad ...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published August 30th 1997 by Northwestern University Press (first published November 1971)
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110th out of 161 books — 191 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 561)
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Sep 11, 2007 Parutron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the best accidental library find ever.
Feb 13, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
"My nonsense hurts a little" - there's no more accurate assessment of these treasures than that quote from the treasures themselves. Because nonsense does hurt; absurdity may at least be a stab at humor, but at the root is a fundamental void. This writing captures the incredible cathartic power of language while at the same time not ignoring dire reality that makes it possible.

"If only human beings sin, this means that the sins of the world are to be found in the human being himself. Sin does n
Nov 09, 2007 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Read It Now.
Aug 25, 2008 Madison rated it really liked it
While Kharms' work in this is better translated in other editions and provides nothing new, Alexander Vvedensky's Christmas at the Ivanov's makes this entire book worth reading.
Jul 10, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: euro-classics
Mostly comprised of Daniil Kharms' parable-like 'nonsense' stories, this book displays the Russian absurdists' (failed) attempt to rescue imagination and individuality from a national literature that was headed toward pedantic 'proletarian' fable. The result is writing that is as filled with wonder and dream-like fantasy and as honest and innocent as children's lit, where its authors finally found political shelter.
Gerry LaFemina
Nov 01, 2013 Gerry LaFemina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gibian's introductory essay contextualizes smartly this wonderful anthology that features mostly the work of Daniil Kharms. Much of this work had never been published in any language before and the mini-stories of Khaarms (some prose poems, some fables, all fabulous are a must read).
Feb 25, 2016 Sam rated it liked it
Before taking a Russian lit class, I had never even heard of Kharms. Good thing I took said class, because the dude is seriously hilarious. His mini-stories wreck clichés you didn't even realize were clichés.
Michael Seidel
Weird balance of work by the two featured writers. Should have just been a Kharms book and then done a separate book for Vvendsky. Buuut. All really great, funny, dark writing.
Nicholaus Patnaude
Sep 04, 2008 Nicholaus Patnaude rated it it was amazing
Why couldn't he have written a novel? It would have rivaled "A Confederacy of Dunces." These stories are funny and outrageous and perfect for the easily bored.
Feb 17, 2014 NaomiRuth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fav-authors, af
I secretly write like them. Or want to write like them? There are certain similarities that strike me as odd and significant. I need more of them in my life.
Miranda Mccue
i read snippets of Kharms' writing in the new yorker and i was a smitten kitten. he is whimsical and eerie.

finished! absolutely amazing.
Jul 12, 2007 Namrirru rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian
If you like this book, you will also like Cortazar's "Cronopios and Famas" and Ionesco's "Rhinoceros."
Oct 09, 2007 Maggie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russianlit, fiction
I love Kharms. There is much wonderful absurdity in this book.
Susan Skelly
Aug 24, 2014 Susan Skelly rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Some of it is quirky, but most of it left me feeling mleh.
Apr 30, 2007 Matthew rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who believes they live in a world they believe is not quite right.
I learned I'm not the only one.
Mar 05, 2011 Ken rated it it was amazing
Russian Absurdism at its finest.
Nov 23, 2008 Wallace rated it it was amazing
Soviet crimes.
Dec 19, 2007 Gary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
May 21, 2007 Taka rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian_lit
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Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachev (Даниил Иванович Ювачёв) was born in St. Petersburg, into the family of Ivan Yuvachev, a well known member of the revolutionary group, The People's Will. By this time the elder Yuvachev had already been imprisoned for his involvement in subversive acts against the tsar Alexander III and had become a religious philosopher, acquaintance of Anton Chekhov during the latter's ...more
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“Pushkin loved to throw rocks. As soon as he saw a rock, he would throw it. Sometimes he became so excited that he stood, all red in the face, waving his arms, throwing rocks, simply something awful.

Pushkin had four sons, all idiots. One didn't even know how to sit in a chair and fell off all the time. Pushkin himself also sat on a chair rather badly. It was simply killing: they sat at the table; at one end, Pushkin kept falling off his chair continually, and at the other end, his son. Simply enough to make one split one's sides with laughter.”
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