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so it is in life

So it is in life: a fool through and through, and yet he wants to express himself.

Under the title 'So It Is in Life', this week's issue of the New Yorker contains some never-before-translated short fiction by Daniil Kharms (see also this earlier post). To quote just one of his absurd, nightmarish vignettes:

When sleep is running away from a man, and the man lies on his bed, dumbly stretching out his legs, while nearby a clock ticks on the nightstand and sleep is running away from the clock, then it seems to the man that an immense black window opens wide before him and that his thin little gray human soul is going to fly out through this window and his lifeless body will stay lying on the bed, dumbly stretching out its legs, and the clock will ring its quiet bell: "Yet another man has fallen asleep." At that moment, the immense and utterly black window will swing shut with a bang.

A man by the last name of Oknov was lying on his bed, dumbly stretching out his legs, trying to fall asleep. But sleep was running away from Oknov. Oknov lay with his eyes open, and frightening thoughts knocked inside his increasingly wooden head.

(Translated by Matvei Yankelevich, with Simona Schneider and Eugene Ostaeshevsky.)

(Via Words Without Borders.)

Recommended:

a fairy-tale from the north

An old man set out to go into the woods, although he didn't know what for. Then he came back and said: -- Hey, old woman, you! The old woman fell straight down. Since then, the hares are white in winter. By Russian absurdist writer … Read the full post »

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