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In the House of the Hanged

In the House of the Hanged: Essays and Vers Libres

Translated from the Russian and Annotated by Alexander Boguslawski
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    In the House of the Hanged
    Book Description:

    In The House of the Hangedfeatures the first-ever translation of thirteen of Sokolov's major essays and free verses.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9584-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-2)

    Sasha Sokolov (Aleksandr Vsevolodovich Sokolov), arguably the most original Russian writer of the past four decades, is known primarily as the author of three extraordinary novels,A School for Fools, Between Dog and Wolf, andPalisandriia. Each of these works is a seminal step in the development of Russian literature:A School for Fools, written in the Soviet Union before perestroika and glasnost, is an acknowledged classic of literary non-conformity, innovation, and originality;Between Dog and Wolfis a mind-boggling exploration of the possibilities of the Russian language that has been compared to JoyceʹsFinnegans Wake; andPalisandriia, a mock...

  4. On Secret Tablets
    (pp. 3-7)

    Does beauty itself look for apprentices among the neglected and mischievous in spirit and, enchanting them with the non-extinguishable light of its uselessness, promote them to masters? Do they owe many of their skills to the maudlin mentors from vocational slaughterhouses of the soul? Or does everything begin and go on according to the will of wonderful dissimilarity – detachedly and despite? In other words: where did we stop? What did we figure out during our vacation lasting thousands of years? What was and will be in the beginning: the artist or the art? And – does our beauty exist...

  5. In the House of the Hanged
    (pp. 8-13)

    Trying to assess my understanding of human rights, I could not find anyone more specific than myself to serve as an example of a human, so I asked this human a number of leading questions. Which circumstance of your biography, I asked him, do you consider the most unfortunate? Not counting my birth as such, he answered, I consider the most upsetting the fact of my initial belonging to a lawless society. Of course, it could have been much worse. I could have been born a citizen of China, Cambodia, Vietnam, or Greater Albania, a black resident of the Republic...

  6. Having Discovered It – Opened It Wide – Given It Wings
    (pp. 14-15)

    The ways of inspiration, writing, and publication are inscrutable. The feeling that we choose them ourselves is just an illusion. Letʹs consider me, for example. To gather my thoughts and compose my first novel, I acted instinctively. In those years, as a newspaper columnist from the capital, author of whatever, I suddenly realized that it was time to undergo a transformation. I left the editorial office, travelled north, to the backwoods, and settled in the house of a game warden. Killed by poachers, the host was almost always absent and his profession as well as the objects in his household...

  7. Palisandre – Cʹest Moi?
    (pp. 16-22)

    Nabokov, the creator of refined prose scores, did not understand the purpose of music. Sartre floated down the stream of existence and lost its meaning. Their unworthy contemporary, I lost only the taste for the plot. A loves B, B–C, C–D. What tedium. If every simile is claudicant, every plot is an invalid of an even higher order, a member of the privileged guild of wandering cripples, whom a charitable widow lures home at sunset to wash the legs of the legless. A samovar is being prepared – dusk is coming – and howling to the moon is...

  8. The Key Word of Belles-Lettres
    (pp. 23-29)

    Thereʹs a game. The player who goes first has to leave the room. The remaining participants select the name of a person known to all. When the chosen player returns, he asks the other players questions about the qualities of the mysterious subject. Both questions and answers should be metaphorical, picturesque. Dialogues are constructed in accordance with a familiar format. For example: If he or she is a river, then what kind? – the chosen player may ask. If a river – then deep and fast – the other players may answer, thinking about a wise and energetic man. If...

  9. A Portrait of an Artist in America: Waiting for the Nobel
    (pp. 30-36)

    Eastern sages maintain that at forty a person is still young and should have enough energy and time to begin everything anew. One just needs to reject oneʹs former way of life and totally change oneʹs personal circumstances. The poets in medieval Japan used to do exactly that. Having achieved fame among their countrymen, they gave their possessions away and, in one fadedhitataré, wandered to another province. There, they assumed different names and found different creative fates. The great practitioners of Christian poetry, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, did likewise. After answering the call of the Teacher, they let...

  10. The Anxious Pupa
    (pp. 37-43)

    What a miss! Instead of being born and growing up in incomparable Buenos Aires, where in place of the expected¿ Como esta usted?everyone asks¿ Como estan los aires?and answersGracias, gracias, muy buenos, and where the bike carrier of the paperHoyostentatiously reads it without a dictionary and in addition rides hands free, while the conductor – an ordinary conductor in a streetcar – recites to his passengers from memory passages from Octavio Paz – that is, instead of appearing among the well-read and sophisticated and becoming a citizen called Jorge Borges … But no,...

  11. The Shared Notebook or a Group Portrait of SMOG
    (pp. 44-51)

    Here is a yarn about that how someone, sensitive and sensible, and, in addition, having ears – what for? – to hear? – you must be joking, medic; are we the minions of Selene to grow these oysters for the sake of Ludwig? People of our circle, of our group, need ears to soar over darkness, over dust, above, I beg your pardon, aviaries – so, having ears, and cuddling in the cage of the skeleton – what do you think? – guess! – something so melodious, so melodic, a pure top, something at times dignified by the term guts:...

  12. A Mark of Illumination (An Attempt at Topical Prose)
    (pp. 52-72)

    Exposure: A certain man, not lacking specific ambitions and, perhaps, even merits, but later simply namedyou– you discover that you are useless. Deeply disturbed and trying to explain yourself at least a bit or, to be more precise, to explicate for yourself how this is possible, you fatigue your tongue with the words of dejection – you handle their cluster – you create a swarm. You say: I am useless – unnecessary – unsuited. And you think: Iʹve been cheated not only in regard to prospects but also hopes and, what is particularly annoying, itʹs not clear by...

  13. An Abstract
    (pp. 73-75)

    When I am asked why I still donʹt write for the theatre, I defend myself by first indicating that I would like to, but Melpomene does not smile upon me, she is cold, and then adding that I am a dramatist only to the extent to which from time to time I catch – how can I make this clearer – well, donʹt hide in the back, keep your spirits up, and, incidentally, I recommend that you become passionate about an active way of life, about movement, and, most importantly, that you donʹt make too much out of it but...

  14. About the Other Encounter
    (pp. 76-79)

    I can tally our encounters on the strings of a guitar, if not a ukulele. Two of them were the result of pure chance. The first – in a bookstore on Allenby. Aleksandr devoted to it one of his city rhapsodies. I am slightly uneasy evaluating this piece; after all, your humble – although at this moment distant – servant is presented there not just as a leading, but as a completely positive character, almost without faults. But I do dare to judge the remaining materials of the collection, in which the essay was included, and at the same time...

  15. Discourse
    (pp. 80-94)
  16. Gazebo
    (pp. 95-122)
  17. Philornist
    (pp. 123-146)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 147-178)
  19. Index of Names and Places
    (pp. 179-213)