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

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  26 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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I know I previously read some of these selections from the two most translated members of the Oberiuty, perhaps all, but not likely all, many certainly felt familiar, while others did not, or only parts of them felt familiar, so I might have read excerpts of others, but still it's always good to revisit the Oberiuty, every few years seems right, a reminder not to take literature too seriously but at the same time to take it deathly seriously, and to always have fun while doing so, fun that at th ...more
Jul 27, 2008 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 rated it it was amazing
Read It Now.
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the best accidental library find ever.
Peter Landau
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Daniil Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky are absurdists. You don’t have to read them to know that. Their names give them away — what’s with all those repeating vowels and consonants? THE MAN WITH THE BLACK COAT: RUSSIA’S LITERATURE OF THE ABSURD cements the deal with very short stories, plays, verse and even some tales for children. The truth is that today absurdity is realism and, I think, it might not have veered too far from that then, too. The 1930s in the USSR was a time of creative and politi ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unsorted, canon
No way to deny it, I have a thing for absurdist fiction, and Kharms is one of the best. I have to say, there were innumerable points in this book which made me think to myself “at last someone else understands!” Kharms was a genuine hero, and it is a shame, what happened to him. The introduction is fascinating reading, as well, far superior to many introductions I have read, but the true beauty is in the works. Granted, the translator has done an excellent job, here, but the beauty of the writin ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
(I don't remember exactly what year I read this.) A book I actually have kept over the years. Read it front to back with relish. Later, it paired well with psilocybin, though I couldn't concentrate for more than a few pages.
Naomi Ruth
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.
Aug 25, 2008 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.
tortoise dreams
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Selected works by Russian Absurdist Daniil Kharms and a short play by his compatriot Alexander Vvedensky.

Book Review: Russia's Lost Literature of the Absurd is subtitled A Literary Discovery, and further subtitled Selected Works of Daniil Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky. In fact, the book, edited and translated by George Gibian, consists of various works by Kharms (1905-42) and a single short play by Vvedensky (1904-42). This may be the first collection of Kharms' work translated into English. Bo
Jul 10, 2013 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 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).
If you’re looking for absurd, look no further than here. Maybe it should stay lost? A great read for inspiring my writing, but found most of it not fun to read. I loved Falling-Out Old Women and A Children’s Story - everything else was meh/absurd for absurd sake/wild.
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russianlit, fiction
I love Kharms. There is much wonderful absurdity in this book.
Gary Norris
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
May 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian_lit
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.
Hannah Milk
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strange and wonderful.
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Russian Absurdism at its finest.
Daniel Zaltsman
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Couldnt put it down. Love learning and exploring the Russian avant garde.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Some of it is quirky, but most of it left me feeling mleh.
Matthew Crowley
Apr 29, 2007 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.
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 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."
Nicholaus Patnaude
Sep 04, 2008 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.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Soviet crimes.
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Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachev (Даниил Хармс) 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 trip to Sa ...more

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