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Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,876 ratings  ·  130 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 Harry N. Abrams
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4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,876 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books

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
Eddie Watkins
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 and
Sentimental Surrealist
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it

Now that the only thing anyone ever fucking mentions about Daniil Kharms is out of the way, let's talk about Daniil Kharms. He's fun to read! The stuff here is fast-paced and short, and so stupid that it wraps back around and becomes witty; Kharms had the unique and enviable ability to embed complex concepts (the double-edged sword that is curiosity, the damage the veneration of idols does to our society, the complexities of faith and politics) into stories about people falling over and h
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I can't do this book justice in a review right now. All I can say is that this is fucking brilliant.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I have absolutely no memory of how ‘Today I Wrote Nothing’ came to be on my to-read list. I added it in 2013, possibly after coming across Kharms some other early Soviet era fiction? Or a review of it? Or some Russian history? Who knows, but I trust past-me to choose books for future-me. It has taken me this long to locate a copy because only last week I realised I could get borrowing rights for an additional academic library. Combined with the magic of, another recent joyous di ...more
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  (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 pu
Ben Loory
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Richard Thompson
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have read a lot of Russian literature, but only recently discovered Kharms. There is much to like in his work. There is lots of irony, weird juxtaposition and strange humor. He wants to shake you up and force you to re-examine your worldview, and in this he is largely successful. There are shades of Kafka and Mayakovsky, and more than a little Gogol. Nonsense abounds.

But after he has shaken you up, he abruptly drops you with another "that's all." The brevity and abruptness are, of course, part
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Hilarious, frightening, strange... everything literature should be. Smacks you out of your complacency concerning the signifier and what it signifies.
Horace Derwent
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing

if there's a boxing ring of literature, and the rivals are mr. kharms and mr. ernest miller hemingway, i'm pretty sure that the author of this book can just KO his rival in the first round
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the funniest, most surprising, and consistently enjoyable books I've ever read. Consisting mainly of paragraph-long fragments, these are absurd micro-stories that read like warped parables; Kharms calls to mind Kafka, Brautigan, Lydia Davis, Beckett, and Joy Williams. A book I'll revisit for years and years.
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
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.)

Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 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!
Nate D
Feb 07, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Some books are just liberating for readers and writers both. I think this is one of those double cases. Matvei Yankelevich's introduction does a great job of de-situating Kharms from the easy labels assigned to the writer by The Chronic Rubricizers (e.g. "Theater of the Absurd," "Dissident Artists under Stalin"). Yankelevitch makes the case that Kharms is to literature what Godel was to math: someone who looks at the underpinnings of what is happening in the literary experience and questions the ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Gary Norris
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 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.
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Incredibly hilarious nonsense. Best read in short doses.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The main section is one of my favourite reads ever! However, the "Other Works" section dragged a little, hence only four stars.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a book that I didn't want to end. It consists of microfictions, poems, short stories, reflections, etc., that are extremely funny. I keep going back to some of them already. Many of these stories deal with abrupt twists in action and destruction, and finding the humor in life's unpredictability. Wow! I'd tell you more about how much I loved this but the battery on my phone's gone dead.
Feb 13, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: russia
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 of
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Russian literature is pretty groovy, and so, I feel, is most anything absurdist. Kharms works in a similar vein as Gogol and Kafka, and his short story "The Old Woman" is an uber-Russian black comedy that would make either of them proud. Also, the shorter pieces (can't decide whether to call them flash fiction or prose poetry) have a great deal of weight behind them, simply by virtue of their nothingness. They are narrative language stripped of context, and that's pretty magnificently unsettling ...more
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