Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

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Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Born(1887-02-11)11 February 1887
Kiev, Russian Empire (now Ukraine)
DiedDecember 28, 1950(1950-12-28) (aged 63)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

Sigizmund Dominikovich Krzhizhanovsky (Russian: Сигизму́нд Домини́кович Кржижано́вский, IPA: [sʲɪɡʲɪzˈmunt dəmʲɪˈnʲikəvʲɪtɕ krʐɨʐɨˈnofskʲɪj], Polish: Zygmunt Krzyżanowski; 11 February [O.S. 30 January] 1887 – 28 December 1950) was a Russian and Soviet writer, playwright, philosopher and historian, who described himself as "known for being unknown".[1] He published only a few stories and essays in his lifetime; the majority of his writings were published posthumously.[2]


Krzhizhanovsky was born in Kiev to a Polish family on 11 February 1887.[3]

Krzhizhanovsky was active among Moscow's literati in the 1920s, while working for Alexander Tairov's Chamber Theater. Several of Krzhizhanovsky's stories became known through private readings and a few publications. His writing style might have been influenced by Robert Louis Stevenson, G. K. Chesterton, Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Gogol,[4] E. T. A. Hoffmann, and H. G. Wells.[5]

In 1929 he penned a screenplay for Yakov Protazanov's acclaimed film The Feast of St Jorgen, yet his name did not appear in the credits. He also wrote the screenplay for the 1935 stop-motion animated feature film The New Gulliver, but, again, was left uncredited.[6] One of his last short stories, "Dymchaty bokal" ("The Smoke-Colored Goblet") from 1939, tells the story of a goblet miraculously never running out of wine, which is sometimes interpreted as a wry allusion to the author's fondness for alcohol.

Krzhizhanovsky died in Moscow, but his burial place is not known.

In 1976, scholar Vadim Perelmuter discovered Krzhizhanovsky's archive and in 1989 published one of his short stories. As the five volumes of his collected works followed, Krzhizhanovsky emerged from obscurity as a remarkable Soviet writer, who polished his prose to the verge of poetry. His short parables, written with an abundance of poetic detail and wonderful fertility of invention – though occasionally bordering on the whimsical – are sometimes compared to the ficciones of Jorge Luis Borges. "Quadraturin" (1926), the best known of such phantasmagoric stories, is a Kafkaesque tale in which allegory meets existentialism.



  • 1924: Странствующее «Странно». Stravaging “Strange”, trans. Joanne Turnbull (Columbia University Press, 2022). (ISBN 978-0-23119-947-6)
  • 1926: Клуб убийц букв. The Letter Killers Club, trans. Joanne Turnbull (New York Review Books, 2011). (ISBN 978-1-59017-450-0)
  • 1927-1928: Возвращение Мюнхгаузена. The Return of Munchausen, trans. Joanne Turnbull (New York Review Books, 2016). (ISBN 978-1-68137-028-6)
  • 1929: Материалы к биографии Горгиса Катафалаки. Material for a Life of Gorgis Katafalaki. In Stravaging “Strange”, trans. Joanne Turnbull (Columbia University Press, 2022). (ISBN 978-0-23119-947-6)
  • 1929: Воспоминания о будущем (1989). Memories of the Future. Included in the collection translated by Joanne Turnbull (New York Review Books, 2009). (ISBN 978-1-59017-319-0)

Short story collections[edit]

  • 1919-1927: Сказки для вундеркиндов. Fairy-tales for Wunderkinder.[2]
  • 1927-1931: Чужая тема. Someone Else's Theme.
  • 1932-1933: Чем люди мертвы. What Men Die By.
  • 1940: Неукушенный локоть (Рассказы о Западе). Unbitten Elbow.
  • 1937-1940: Мал мала меньше. One Smaller Than the Other.
  • 1940: Сборник рассказов 1920-1940-х годов. Collected Stories 1920s-1940s.


  • That Third Guy". A Comedy from the Stalinist 1930s with Essays on Theater, trans. Alisa Ballard Lin (The University of Wisconsin Press, 2018) 301 p. (ISBN 978-0-29931-710-2)

Published essays and stories[edit]

  • Якоби и „Якобы“ (1919). Jacobi and 'As If'
  • Штемпель: Москва (1925). Postmark: Moscow. In Autobiography of a Corpse, trans. Joanne Turnbull (New York Review Books, 2013) pp. 170-203. (ISBN 978-1-59017-670-2)
  • 1929: Воспоминания о будущем (1989). Memories of the Future. Included in the collection translated by Joanne Turnbull (New York Review Books, 2009). (ISBN 978-1-59017-319-0)
  • Поэтика заглавий (1931). "The Poetics of Titles", trans. Anne O. Fisher, in Countries That Don't Exist: Selected Nonfiction, edited by Jacob Emery and Alexander Spektor (Columbia University Press, 2022). pp. 69-114. (ISBN 978-0-23120-237-4)

Translated stories and collections[edit]

  • "Quadraturin", trans. Joanne Turnbull, in Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida (Penguin, 2005). (ISBN 978-0-140-44846-7)
  • 7 Stories, trans. Joanne Turnbull (GLAS New Russian Writing, 2006). (ISBN 5-7172-0073-0)
  • Memories of the Future, trans. Joanne Turnbull (New York Review Books, 2009). (ISBN 978-1-59017-319-0)
  • Autobiography of a Corpse, trans. Joanne Turnbull (New York Review Books, 2013). (ISBN 978-1-59017-670-2)
  • Unwitting Street, trans. Joanne Turnbull (New York Review Books, 2020). (ISBN 978-1-68137-488-8)

Collected works[edit]

  • Vol. 1: Fairy-tales for Wunderkinder; Stravaging “Strange”; Someone Else's Theme; Postmark: Moscow (2001).
  • Vol. 2: The Letter Killers Club; The Return of Munchausen; Materials for a Life of Gorgis Katafalaki; Memories of the Future; What Men Die By (2001).
  • Vol. 3: Unbitten Elbow; One Smaller Than the Other; Collected Stories 1920s-1940s; Salyr-Gyul; Nice Sea; Moscow in the First Year of the War (2003).
  • Vol. 4: The Poetics of Titles; Philosopheme about the Theater; Countries That Don't Exist; Fragments about Shakespeare; The Art of the Epigraph [Pushkin]. Bernard Shaw's Dramatic Techniques (2006).
  • Vol. 5: Theater projects; unfinished projects; juvenilia (2010).
  • Vol. 6: Unwitting Street; Correspondence between Krzhizhanovsky and Anna Bovshek; memoirs; translations, documents, letters, photos (2013).


  1. ^ Tarves, Kirsten. "The lords of in-between: the trickster and liminal figure in the fiction of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, 1925-1928". MSpace.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b Leiderman, N. L. (2012). "The Intellectual Worlds of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky". The Slavic and East European Journal. 56 (4): 507–535. ISSN 0037-6752. JSTOR 24392613.
  3. ^ Adam Thirlwell, "Master of the Crossed Out," The New York Review of Books, vol. LVIII, no. 11 (June 23, 2011), p. 57.
  4. ^ Serebrianik, Nina (2007-03-01). "Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida". Translation Review. 73 (1): 71–76. doi:10.1080/07374836.2007.10524123. ISSN 0737-4836.
  5. ^ H.G. Wells and All Things Russian. Anthem Press. 2019. ISBN 978-1-78308-991-8.
  6. ^ Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. The Complete Works in 5 Volumes. Volume 1. ed. by Vadim Perelmuter. Saint Petersburg: Symposium, 2001, 688 pages. ISBN 5-89091-132-5

External links[edit]