Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading this week is a story by the great Russian writer Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky entitled “The Unbitten Elbow”. Translated by Joanne Turnbull, who also provides a brief introduction, the story comes at the recommendation of The PEN Literary Awards.
Not much more needs to be said about it than what Turnbull says in the intro, that “The naïve and nameless hero of this strange tale is a man bent on biting his own elbow.” And if that isn’t enough to get you to read it, then you need serious help.
Modernist literary journals
A trove of literary journals dating from 1890 to 1939 has been made available online, or is at least pointed out by the estimable Open Culture. The archive is actually available on Monoskop and they have so much material that to properly peruse it you would have to quit your job and pass your days unproductively browsing these amazing magazines (especially unproductive if you don’t speak the languages they were written in). I’m not sure how many unemployed literary types there are willing to do this, but I know at least one.
Of especial Literalab interest the journals include Russian and Polish Futurist journals/manifestos, the latter co-edited by Bruno Jasieński. There’s the Czech monthly Orfeus, with Karel Teige among its editors, and a multitude of others to be found in its index.
A Russian sentence
At The New Yorker’s Page-Turner writer and founder of the Summer Literary Seminars Mikhail Iossel has a breathless, single sentence story appropriately titled “Sentence” evoking the nightly gatherings in Leningrad in the late days of the Soviet Union. Besides being written in a single sentence there is also only a single sentence spoken in the story.
Photo – Cover of the only Yugoslav avant-garde journal, Zenit, from the first Zenit international exhibition, collage, 1924.