BSG Press, Moscow
Galiani Verlag, Berlin
Volvox Globator, Praha
Marina Durnovo is the widow of Daniil Kharms (1905–1942). She is the only living witness to the toughest and most productive years of the famous short-story writer and “master of the absurd.” Her marriage to Kharms, however, was only an brief episode in a long life. There a strange childhood in St. Petersburg in the home of her grandmother, Princess Golitsyna. There was a Revolution, a life of need and privation with a genial poet who wore odd clothes. There were endless love affairs and nightly spells of wanting to paint the fireplace pink or chase rats. Then came the blockade of Leningrad, the arrest of Kharms and his death. She was deported to Germany as slave laborer, and, in 1945, she turns up in France, where she meets her mother for the first time in her life, falls in love with her step-father and has a baby by him. Her story also includes appearances by Kharms’s father, who made an attempt on the life of Czar Alexander II, by the artist Kazimir Malevich, the poet Khlebnikov, and a variety of NKVD-officers, fascists and Russian emigrants.
In 1996, Vladimir Glozer—an expert on Kharms—traced Marina Durnovo—who by then was nearly 80—to Venezuela and took down her story. The result of his adaptation is an extraordinary book, written entirely in the style of Kharms’s prose, and with his spirit. The episodes of Marina’s life are a shocking blend of the absurd and the truth. “‘This is Gone With the Wind,’ but full of quick, spasmodic motion and the craziest of details. It is a wind that was too furious to be told calmly and slowly.” (Afisha)