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Allusion is not Illusion

You'll pry my books off my cold, dead body. By the time you shift them all I'll be flat and dessicated.

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A Few Absurdities

It Happened Like This - Daniil Kharms

Kharms' [Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachov,1905-1942] stories are very short. 'Garrulity is the mother of mediocrity,' he wrote in his diary. He also wrote, at the height of the purges that would eventually take his life (he died of starvation while in prison), 'I am interested only in 'nonsense'; only in that which makes no practical sense. I am interested in life only in its absurd manifestation.'


He had other pseudonyms as well. He wrote for adults and for children, stories, plays, poetry, erotica. Most of his adult writing, saved after his arrest by his friend, the philosopher Yakov Semyonovich Druskin, was not published in Russia until the Gorbachev period.


In this book we have a few brief stories, purportedly for children although adults might like them just as well. The first is "Mysterious Case," which is presented as an introduction, the writer directly addressing the audience. I'll reproduce some of it:


"This is incredible! Who can tell me what's going on? I've been lying on a couch for three days now, scared to death. I don't understand it at all.

It happened like this.

In my room, on the wall, is a picture of my friend Karl Ivanovitch Shusterling.

Three days ago, when I was cleaning my room, I took the picture down, dusted it, and put it up again. Then I stepped back to see from a distance if it was hanging crooked. But when I looked my feet turned cold and my hair stood straight up on my head.

Instead of Karl Ivanovitch Shusterling, a terrifying stranger was looking at me from the wall--


...I have taken a photograph of this picture and sent to the people who are making the book. They tell me that the kids who will be reading it are very smart.

Maybe you can tell me where my dear friend Karl Ivanovitch Shusterling has gone?"



A short bio and extensive sample of his writing is available here: http://lib.ru/HARMS/xarms_engl.txt.