OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism

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Eugene Ostashevsky, Matvei Yankelevich, Thomas Epstein, Ilya Bernstein, Genya. Turovskaya
Northwestern University Press, 2006 - Literary Collections - 258 pages
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It was a movement so artfully anarchic, and so quickly suppressed, that readers only began to discover its strange and singular brilliance three decades after it was extinguished-and then only in samizdat and émigré publications. Some called it the last of the Russian avant-garde, and others called it the first (and last) instance of Absurdism in Russia; however difficult to classify, it was OBERIU (from an acronym standing for The Union of Real Art), and the pleasures of its poetry and prose are, with this volume, at long last fully open to English-speaking readers.

This anthology includes the work of three writers, Alexander Vvedensky, Daniil Kharms, and Nikolai Zabolotsky, who, between 1927 and 1930, made up the core of OBERIU, and of three others, Nikolai Oleinikov, Leonid Lipavsky, and Yakov Druskin, who, although not members of OBERIU, worked in the same vein. Skillfully translated to preserve the weird charm of the originals, these poems and prose pieces display all the hilarity and tragedy, the illogical action and puppetlike violence and eroticism, and the hallucinatory intensity that brought down the wrath of the Soviet censors. Today they offer an uncanny reflection of the distorted reality they reject.
 

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OBERIU: an anthology of Russian absurdism

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The three writers of OBERIU, a group active between 1927 and 1930, were all persecuted by Stalin: Alexander Vvedensky died on a prison train in 1941, Daniil Kharms died of starvation in a prison ... Read full review

Contents

Kuprianov and Natasha
5
RugHydrangea
13
A Certain Quantity of Conversations
28
Elegy
52
The Story of Sdygr Appr
63
The Ewe
73
The Measure of Things
80
To RingTo Fly Third Cisrinite Logic
93
The Adventure of Katerpillar
147
The Temptation
154
The Battle of Elephants
172
The Poem of Rain
178
In Service of Science
187
To a Lady Unwilling to Renounce Consumption
194
Zeros
201
Death
219

The Constancy of Dirt and Joy
106
The Street Incident
119
One Man Fell Asleep
137
Letter to Kharms
236
Works Cited
255
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About the author (2006)

Eugene Ostashevsky is a master teacher of the humanities in the General Studies program at New York University. In 2003 he won the Wytter Bynner Foundation Translation Prize.

Matvei Yankelevich is a doctoral student in comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the editor of the Eastern European Poets Series for Ugly Duckling Presse, where he also co-edits 6x6 magazine.

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