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Beyond the Looking-Glas

ISBN 5-7172-0032-3
224 pages, illustrated

Russian grotesque revisited

Sample writing: Genrikh Sapgir;
Grigory Kruzhkov; Vlas Doroshevich

"A whimsical quality runs through these stories... Inevitably, Gogol makes his influence felt in many of these stories." — The Moscow Times

"Pick it up and plug into the fascinating state of current Russian writing." —
The Moscow Times

This unique collection presents the latest work of some of the modern absurdist writers,
Victor Pelevin, Valery Ronshin, Alexander Selin, Genrikh Sapgir, Grigory Kruzhkov.
The more realist writers Alexander Kabakov, Nikolai Klimontovich and Ludmilla Shtern contribute work that testify to the grim humor that persists.
Rediscovery from 1920s: Vlas Doroshevich Three Chinese Tales.

See also Valery Ronshin in Glas 7, 29; Nikolai Klimontovich in Glas 35;
Alexander Selin in Glas 31; Victor Pelevin in Glas 4, 7, 11; Grigory Kruzhkov in Glas 8.

"...Another Glas — another triumph!" — The Moscow Tribune

Genrikh Sapgir (1928-1999), an avant-garde poet and children's writer, was a member of the famous Lianozovo group in the 1960s and 1970s, which brought together such dissident poets and artists as Brodsky, Zverev, Ilya Kabakov, Oscar Rabin and Ernst Neizvestny. Sapgir's "adult" poems were hardly ever published in the pre-perestroika times. Like his predecessor Daniel Kharms and other writers of the absurd before him, he made a very successful career writing for children.
To break through to his readers he started writing his poems on shirts, which he exhibited at art exhibitions together with his artist friends' paintings. These "sonnets on shirts" have remained popular to this day. Winner of the Khlebnikov and Znamya awards, he is widely published and immensely popular in Russia today.
Several collections of his poetry have appeared in France and Germany, and his poems have been a constant feature of the Russian-language emigre journals. Sapgir also writes short stories, plays and film scripts. He has eight poetry collections to his credit and his poetry can also be found in the major literary journals His poetry is marked with the "wisdom of humor and anecdote" (Andrei Bitov), and although thoroughly original, is reminiscent of the Futurists, Velemir Khlebnikov and the OBERIU. He was singled out by Akhmatova as one of the more talented poets of his generation.
Late in his life he mostly wrote prose and published three books of his short stories and novels: The Flying and the Sleeping, Summer with Angels, and Armaggedon. His prose is marked with gentle irony, light eroticism, and rich expressiveness.

"Sapgir is a very talented poet noted, above all, for his ingenious use of all the possibilities inherent in the Russian language, daring imagery, meta-metaphorism, conversion of material categories into spiritual ones, juxtaposition of contrasting information series. His original ideas provide a powerful stimulus to the reader's imagination." — Professor Wolfgang Kasack (Cologne)

Alexander Selin, born in 1960, grew up in the little town of Volzhsk on the Volga. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics Engineering and worked as a physicist for eight years, leaving this profession with a number of publications and discoveries to his credit. During this time he wrote short plays, which he staged himself with theatre companies in Moscow and St Petersburg. He also writes scripts for films and television, and humorous short stories, published in literary journals and recited by comic actors. His new novel, Videountermenschen, is pending publication in Russia. It is set in the world of television and advertizing and, like a crooked mirror, reflects the state of society in a somewhat different aspect than Pelevin's Generation P set in the same mileu.

"Selin stories are the finest in the collection..." — Literary Gazette

"Selin is a modern-day Hoffman..." — ExLibris

Grigory Kruzhkov is prolific in many literary fields, he is a well-known poet, translator, children's writer, literary historian, and essayist. He compiled and translated an anthology of English fairy-tales and rhymes entitled Big Ben Tales, which was awarded a diploma of the International Board on Books for the Young (IBBY) in 1996.

Ludmila Shtern, a Boston-based Russian writer, has a delightful sense of humour so rare nowadays when most writers in Russia are still concerned with its grim past and rather grim present. Her two main themes - Soviet intellectual versus Soviet bureaucracy and Russian emigre adjusting to life in America reflect her personal experiences, providing her with ample material for her fast-moving stories sparkling with wit and laughter but occasionally tinged with sadness.
She holds a Doctor's degree in geology and used to work at a research institute in St Petersburg before she emigrated to the USA twenty years ago. She used to be a centre of a dissident writers circle and a close friend of Brodsky. Ludmila Shtern has two novels and two collections of short stories to her credit.

Vlas Doroshevich (1864-1922) was an outstanding journalist who did much to enhance the reputation of the popular press in pre-revolutionary Russia. His journalistic output was vast, both in terms of quantity (enough to fill over a hundred volumes according to one estimate) and range, embracing travel accounts, satirical pieces, theatrical reviews and court reporting, to mention just some of the areas in which he worked.
Leaving home at fourteen, Doroshevich travelled through Russia and worked at a variety of jobs before settling down to journalism. His early attempts, light pieces for humorous magazines based in Moscow, were influenced by the satirical stories of Saltykov-Shchedrin; although he was to graduate to more serious journalism, satire remained his first love.
Later he travelled extensively in Europe, North America and Asia, writing articles on the life of the ordinary people in the countries he visited and the wider issues affecting them. Politically Doroshevich was on the left, and his socialist leanings are reflected in his writings.
Through his travels he became interested in folk tales and collected them enthusiastically. It is in fact for the pastiche folk tales and legends, usually satirical in intent, which Doroshevich composed himself that he is best remembered today.
The three stories presented here are taken from Doroshevich's Chinese cycle From the Hundred Golden Tales, first published in the newspaper Rossiya in 1900-1901. Although their satire is ostensibly directed against the autocracy and bureaucracy in China, readers were not slow to pick up their relevance to Russian conditions, with the Chinese emperor and his mandarins standing in for the Tsar and his ministers. Not surprisingly, the censors halted publication of Rossiya more than once during 1900 and 1901.
Doroshevich's satires have remained highly relevant to this day.