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Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  900 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Daniil Kharms has long been heralded as one of the most iconoclastic writers of the Soviet era, but the full breadth of his achievement is only in recent years, following the opening of Kharms' archives, being recognized internationally. In this brilliant translation by Matvei Yankelevich, English-language readers now have a comprehensive collection of the prose and poetry ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Overlook Books
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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor DostoyevskyAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Best Russian Literature
96th out of 376 books — 1,488 voters
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Best Russian (Soviet 1917-1991) Literature
27th out of 168 books — 162 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,150)
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Glenn Russell
Picture a tall, thin man with blazing light blue eyes parading down the main pedestrian boulevard in a city wearing a tweed suit, Sherlock Holmes double-brimmed hat and smoking a curved ivory Sherlock Holmes pipe, putting himself on display as if he were a perfectly balanced combination of Oscar Wilde and that famous London detective. And, as the crowning moment of his performance, the tall, thin man halts in the middle of a gaping crowd of onlookers and theatrically lies down in the middle of t ...more
Eddie Watkins
from The Werld:
Then I realized that since before there was somewhere to look – there had been a world around me. And now it’s gone. There’s only me.

And then I realized that I am the world.

But the world – is not me.

Although at the same time I am the world.

But the world’s not me.

And I’m the world.

But the world’s not me.

And I’m the world.

But the world’s not me.

And I’m the world.

And after that I didn’t think anything more.

This guy is funny. This guy is frightening. He’s ultra-serious an
I can't do this book justice in a review right now. All I can say is that this is fucking brilliant.
Nov 02, 2007 Matvei rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to read
Shelves: my_translations

The book i've been working on a long time, my translations of Daniil Kharms (1905-1942), is officially out in the world as of November 1st.

Today I Wrote Nothing
The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms
edited and with an introduction by Matvei Yankelevich
translated by Matvei Yankelevich
with Ilya Bernstein, Eugene Ostashevsky, and Simona Schneider
(hardcover, 272 pages)

Please check it out. It'd make a pretty good gift, for yourself and for a friend.
TO KHARMS! many thanks -- Matvei

Directly from the pub
Ben Loory
Dec 16, 2010 Ben Loory rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ben by: jessica lauren richmond
it's like monty python reinterpreting the poetry of stephen crane under stalinist rule in the 1930s. really just madness most of the time, but the clearest, funniest, angriest, happiest madness ever... there's not a fragment in this book that doesn't feel like it was written yesterday... yesterday in the best mental institution ever...

Tumbling Old Women

Because of her excessive curiosity, one old woman tumbled out her window, fell and shattered to pieces.

Another old woman leaned out to look at th
Hilarious, frightening, strange... everything literature should be. Smacks you out of your complacency concerning the signifier and what it signifies.
Totally a new writer to me and Daniil Kharms hits all my aesthetic spots on target. Absurd to the max but with a lot of heart. One can read the mood of what was happening in Russia at the time of these writings (early 20th Century) but I think that may be misleading. What we have here is a genius who would have been a force no matter what part of the world he came from.

The fact that he was part of the landscape of the Russian revolution and Stalin is just a plus with respect to the writings (he
3.5 stars. Russian surrealist/absurdist short fiction. Nonsense prose pieces that often start one place and end up, through a chain of unpredictable literary tricks/devices, in a completely different territory. Wonderfully playful, fun, and funny, but reading more than 10 at a time often reduces said effect. Thus, I think the book should've been edited down a little more... there's like 300 pages worth of this stuff, which took me months to read because of the constant feeling of having over-ind ...more
Kharms speaks for himself. I recommend reading in small, pleasant doses, like chocolate. Be wary of reading too much and then trying to go out and talk to people.

(Note: These translations below are from the web, not this volume I finished reading, which I'd lent to a complete stranger on the street in Friendship, which seemed like the proper thing to do. Though, I made a couple of corrections that I remembered liking more in the newer translation. If I ever get it back, I'll change the review.)

Nov 19, 2014 S. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who obsess, people with humor, strangers
The poems left me cold but the rest of this book was marvelous. To be honest, I'd never heard of Kharms and fell in love with the title while looking into some titles in modern Russian literature. The more I learned about him, the more intrigued I was, and the short "stories" and "incidents" in the book appealed to me deeply. There's something very satisfying about having people hurt themselves repeatedly, or old women falling out of windows and crack into pieces over and over again, something r ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Oriana marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-soon
I was bemoaning how bored I am by Anna Karenina, and a clever Goodreadser told me if I wanted to fill in the gaps in my reading of the Russians (which I do), I'd be much better off reading this one (among several others). So I shall!
I loved this book so much, I just fell off my chair. It is absurd and ridiculous in all the right ways and had me laughing at strange moments. There is a mixture of micro fiction (before it became flash fiction), short stories, short plays and poems. The poetry is perhaps the only disappointment, but the plays are great fun, who can't enjoy Pushkin and Gogol tripping over each other ... constantly? Or people just vomiting on stage? It's brilliant silliness.

The story 'The old woman' is a masterpi
A certain old woman, out of excessive curiosity, fell out of a window, plummeted to the ground, and was smashed to pieces.
Another old woman leaned out of the window and began looking at the remains of the first one, but she also, out of excessive curiosity, fell out of the window, plummeted to the ground and was smashed to pieces.
Then a third old woman plummeted from the window, then a fourth, then a fifth.
By the time a sixth old woman had plummeted down, I was fed up watching them, and went off
i bought an uncorrected proof awhile back and wore it out, then lent it out, and never received it back. All my notes in it lost because i write everything i am thinking in books because i have poor short term memory. Bought a new copy recently and am re-reading it. simply one of the great writers.
Nov 08, 2009 Matvei added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with a sense of humor
Recommended to Matvei by: kharms
Shelves: my_translations
This is the paperback edition — published by ARDIS / OVERLOOK / DUCKWORTH in summer 2009. It's good, even better than the hardcover. And cheaper.
Kharms steps out on stage. His stomach is a vacant slab. He has not eaten in weeks. Stumbling, Kharms trips over Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, skips Tolstoy, trips over himself twice, circles back, trips over Tolstoy, picks himself up with great effort, then shakes hands with Pushkin and Gogol. Gogol offers Kharms a loaf of bread. The bread evaporates from Kharms' hands. The spotlight goes out. Kharms is too weary to care. At least he is meeting his idols. The darkness is even more fitting. In res ...more
A very strange, funny, and enjoyable book. As inconsistent as Grimm's fairy tales, but in a very different ways. In fact it he writes a fairy tale in which i man is visited by a magician who will grant him three wishes, but instead the man runs away and cries. Then the final line, "Reader! Think this fable over and it will make you somewhat uncomfortable." Kharms is classified as an absurdist and he certainly is at times. This can be fun, jolting, or boring and annoying. This book is filled with ...more
Nate D
Jun 24, 2011 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Gogol or maybe Pushkin
Recommended to Nate D by: Pushkin or maybe Gogol
I've been terribly interested, lately, in experimental or subversive writers of interwar Russia, writers who wrote with exuberant creativity in the 20s only to see their options cut off systematically by Socialist Realism and Stalinism until they were forced to hide their writings, or flee, or face condemnation, imprisonment, and death. Of course, as warned by introduction to this volume, assuming political motivation to anything written during the Terror is to limit the scope of that work and a ...more
The Author is actually named Daniil Kharms but w/e...I love this book, it's pulling me out of my depressive state and hopefully I'll go full mania soon. Kharms is unlike what is later known as "absurdist" and so, I hate that he is identified this way. His sense of humor reminds me of my ex-girlfriend's mother--she lived in Leningrad and left somehow in the 60's I think--there is something inherently Russian about it, and it is totally ironic without the safety net of serious business philosophy ...more
This collection of short pieces is frankly a bit shocking, even when read many decades later. Kharms' writing is terse and defiantly inscrutable, slapstick and silly, while still conveying something real about the author himself and the role of writing and art. The pieces are rarely more than a page or two long, and some of the best ones are just a few lines.

The temptation for an American would be to read it as a political critique, but this is a drastic simplification. Please resist the urge to
A collection of the forgotten [1] Russian writer and poet, mostly short stories (or rather, short scenes) and a few scenes in verse. The stories are short, very funny, and dark! For example, in one of the first stories the main character tries to kill himself by locking himself into an airtight trunk, but the trunk just disappears:

"That means life defeated death by a method unknown to me."

says the character, and thus the story ends, just after one page.

Some otherworldly elements reminding me o
I'd enjoyed writing microfiction like this without knowing it was a 'thing.' Reading a bit more I became angry that he did it so much better. And for what? He died of starvation while locked up in a Leningrad looney bin! Hope you're happy man, I'll never read or write again...thanks Dan.
Mike Polizzi
Daniil Kharms hadn't any butter. He wrote a story about butter. His reader made a wig from the pages so he could be called a blonde. The blonde reader enjoyed these stories.
Roberta Allen
Strange, very brief and mysterious,often enchanting,absurd pieces that capture kernels of truth decades before "flash fiction." Russian author(translated).
The translator of the book is on this site, and he might even read this review. So I better not even say anything at all.
Aug 01, 2008 W.B. added it
sounds great. i keep hearing about this book. i'll have to investigate.
Willy Schuyesmans
Wat een ontdekking die Daniil Kharms (de Nederlandstalige uitgave van Atlas spelt de naam vanuit het Russisch als 'Charms'). Ik heb eerst die bizarre en verrassende kinderverhalen van hem gelezen die als Nietes Welles zijn verschenen met tekeningen van Gerda Dendooven. Dit boek brengt vooral zijn werk voor volwassenen, dat overigens tijdens zijn leven nauwelijks is uitgegeven: veel ultrakorte verhalen, toneelstukken (slechts één tijdens zijn leven opgevoerd), gedichten, dagboekfragmenten, liefde ...more
Aug 26, 2010 Jessica added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: Blake
I tried with this one. I did. My brother recommended it to me. It’s Russian. It’s completely nonsensical. And I made it about 150 pages. I can’t do it anymore. Daniil Kharms is touted as an absurdist poet. He writes mostly in short vignettes. His quirky and bizarre writing just didn’t appeal to me. Here are a couple of quotes to give you a taste of his style:

A good example (i.e., something I liked):

There lived a redheaded man who had no eyes or ears. He didn’t have hair either, so he was call
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  • OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism
  • Nervous People and Other Satires
  • Memories of the Future
  • The Petty Demon
  • The Selected Poems
  • The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin
  • The Foundation Pit
  • The Queue
  • White Walls: Collected Stories
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Stories
  • Red Cavalry
  • Envy
  • Forever Flowing
  • Conquered City
  • The Enchanted Wanderer: Selected Tales
  • The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems
  • The Bedbug and Selected Poetry
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
More about Daniil Kharms...
Incidences The Man with the Black Coat: Russia's Literature of the Absurd Kharms: The Old Woman (Bristol Russian Texts Series) It Happened Like This Nula i ništa

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“I was most happy when pen and paper were taken from me and I was forbidden from doing anything. I had no anxiety about doing nothing by my own fault, my conscience was clear, and I was happy. This was when I was in prison.” 40 likes
“There lived a redheaded man who had no eyes or ears. He didn’t have hair either, so he was called a redhead arbitrarily. He couldn’t talk because he had no mouth. He had no nose either. He didn’t even have arms or legs. He had no stomach, he had no back, he had no spine, and he had no innards at all. He didn’t have anything. So we don’t even know who we’re talking about. It’s better that we don’t talk about him any more.” 27 likes
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