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Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky


ISBN 5-7172-0073-0, 208 pp.

Translated by Joanne Turnbull

GLAS is proud to present the first collection of stories
in English translation by this overlooked classic.

"His stories, like those of Jorge Luis Borges, are closer to poetry and philosophy than to the realistic novel. (...) It is now clear that Krzhizhanovsky is one of the greatest Russian writers of the last century." – Financial Times

"Each of these seven stories is delightful to read, humorous, sad and meaningful." – The Spectator

"In each story an everyday scene is turned on its head by an impossible idea and then spun into a gently neurotic narrative as tight in its argument as algebra… All of Krzhizhanovsky's stories depict something aberrant, which is strongly rooted in something true." – Bookforum

"Glas now brings another astonishing Russian master, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950), out of the shadows with Seven Stories, the only volume of his work available in English. Krzhizhanovsky is a poker-faced surrealist whose imagination is so radical it goes beyond political lampoon into the realms of metaphysical assault." – ARTOON

"These seven stories show some wonderful flights of the imagination, but it's the confident, easy style that set them apart. Here a natural storyteller, striking intellect, and deeply creative soul are found all in one - a rare combination. Here is the rare author where we would immediately purchase any other available work of his; sadly, this is the only English translation of his writing currently available." – Complete Review

One of the greatest Russian writers of the 20th century, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950) was, by his own admission, "known for being unknown". Like his better-known contemporary, Bulgakov, Krzhizhanovsky was born in Kiev and moved to Moscow in the early 1920s. The Bolshevik Revolution had put an end to his brief career as a lawyer, freeing him to devote all of his mind and energy to writing and philosophy.
In his viewless room – so small it must once have been a larder – that Krzhizhanovsky wrote his strange, philosophical, satirical, lyrical phantasmagorias including the seven incomparable stories in this collection: "Quadraturin", "Autobiography of a Corpse", "The Bookmark", "In the Pupil", "The Runaway Fingers", "Yellow Coal" and "The Unbitten Elbow".
The author of five novellas, a hundred-odd stories, a dozen plays, screenplays and librettos, and dozens of essays, he went to his grave "a literary nonentity." Unearthed by chance, Krzhizhanovsky's collected works (3,000 pages) are only now being brought out in Russian. He was a writer-thinker. Many of his stories have the quality of a problem or puzzle: "I am interested," he said, "not in the arithmetic, but in the algebra of life." The constant rejections eventually drove Krzhizhanovsky to drink. Asked what had brought him to wine, he joked: "A sober attitude towards reality." On December 28, 1950, the critic Georgii Shengeli drew a black frame around this entry in his notebook: "Today Sigizmund Dominikovich Krzhizhanovsky died, a writer-visionary, an unsung genius."

Sample writing excerpt from the book