Literary roundup: Blinding and a four-legged crow

With the much anticipated publication of Mircea Cărtărescu’s Blinding imminent the Romanian author is engaged in a North American tour, with appearances in Minnesota, Chicago, Boston, New York and Toronto. You can see the full schedule here.

Translated into English by Sean Cotter the novel isn’t any easier to read than his Nostalgia but like the former has an incredible intensity and passages of unreal beauty. Get it, just don’t kid yourself that you’ll be able to read it on the subway/metro/tube on the way to work/school.

Setting Kharms to music

On October 14 Prague’s Berg Orchestra is putting on a production of composer and conductor Kryštof Mařatka’s “Four-Legged Crow”, a melodrama farce based on texts by the great Russian absurdist Daniil Kharms. The work is described as “distilled absurdity and playfulness”, which is more than enough to get me to go.

All the details of place and time can be found right here

And here you can read some Kharms pieces published in B O D Y

And here is the text of “The Four-Legged Crow” itself:

The Four-Legged Crow
by Daniil Kharms

Once upon a time there lived a four-legged crow. Strictly speaking, it had five legs, but that’s not worth talking about.

One time the four-legged crow bought itself some coffee beans and thought, “So, I’ve bought coffee – now what do I do with it?”

Then, to make matter worse, a fox ran by. It spotted the crow and hollered to it. “Hey!” it yelled. “You, crow!”

And the crow yelled back at the fox:

“Crow yourself!”

And the fox yelled at the crow:

“You’re a pig, crow, that’s what you are!”

The crow was so insulted that it spilled the coffee. And the fox ran off. And the crow climbed down to the ground and went home on its four, or to be precise, on its five legs to its lousy house.

– February 13th, 1938. [Trans. with Eugene Ostashevsky and Simona Schneider]
Kharms, Daniil. Today I Wrote Nothing: the Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms. Trans. Matvei Yankelevich. New York: Overlook Duckworth, 2009.

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One Comment on “Literary roundup: Blinding and a four-legged crow”

  1. 11/10/2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Ha, I used to attend literary meetings led by Cartarescu when I was a student. He is very difficult to translate, I would imagine. His journals (in Romanian) show an anxious, often cynical man, struggling with writer’s block – it made me sympathise with him.

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