The soul of Russian avant-garde

Today’s post is about the genius of Russian Absurd – Daniil Kharms (1905-1942).

I am only interested in “nonsense”; only in that which makes no practical sense. I am interested in life, only in its absurd manifestations. #quote

He is mostly known for his whimsical poems for children, but his heart belongs to absurd. His stories (or plots) are particularly fond of tantalising comic negations: the beginning that is not a beginning, information that is not information, the story that is not a story.

‘Once upon a time, there lived a four-legged crow. Strictly speaking, it had five legs, but that’s not worth talking about.’

Deaths in his stories contain countless comic reversals, fantastical or nonsensical outcomes, as well as outbursts of unmotivated violence.

An old woman leans out of her window and, ‘because of her excessive curiosity,’ leans too far: she falls to the ground and shatters to pieces. A second old woman leans out of her window to see what has happened to the first – and also leans too far, tumbling to the same fate. More women follow suit ( third,  fourth,  fifth, sixth), a chain that ends only because the narrator of this story, ‘sick of watching them,’ breaks off to go to the market.

Khrams was a very eccentric person in real life:

  • Once, when he visited his friends for dinner, he took off his pants in the hall, and continued to the dining room in his boxers… as he said – ‘to shock the ladies’.
  • An old neighbor reported seeing Khrams standing often on the balcony, absolutely naked. To the police, he explained: “I believe, those who are passing by… would prefer to look at the young naked guy in the window than at the wrinkled and dressed old aunt”.
  • He had 40 pen names.
  • He created his own language and used it for writing his personal diaries.
  • He didn’t like kids but published more than 20 books for children. He said he wrote it only to make money. He once said: “All children and old people should be brought to the center of a town and thrown into a huge hole in the ground.”
  • He was accused of anti-soviet activity and escaped execution by simulating/playing a psychopath. He was sent to a clinic, where he died.
  • Kharms died young (36 years old).
  • His favorite authors: Knut Hamsun, Gogol, Lewis Carroll.

Kharms’s work has been classed as:

  • absurdist (similar to Beckett)
  • a black humorous allegory (similar to Kafka)
  • an Aesopian anti-totalitarian prose

A joke from Kharms: “My phone number ends with 32-08. Easy to remember – 32 teeth and 8 fingers”.

Info from:
Tony Wood, Art is a Cupboard! (London Review of Books; 8 May, 2008)

Next post – Humorous story “Murder in the Hot Cocoon Hotel” 


  1. Only to make money. Haha. This made me laugh.
    I’ve never read him, but you got me interested. I love all absurd too.
    Excellent post, dear.

    1. Author

      I never read his absurd too. It was forbidden 🚫 I think, and first published 1988. Also his stories mostly 10 lines long… or at least 1-2 pages. Anyway, we r familiar with his work for kids mostly 🙂 he did his job well 😉😉(considering he didn’t like them much)

  2. Now i am beginning to see the light👏🧐. I always knew about the absurd, but it was so absurd I never paid attention✌️Keep up the good work.

    1. Author

      I’m sos sorry… but I found it in the spam. I don’t check spam regularly…aaa :)) yeah, I love absurd or surreal, hopefully it shows in my work 🙂 thank you ✌️📚☕️

    1. Author

      It maybe not so easy to find, but I believe there’s some stuff on inet about him (in English).

      And TᕼᗩᑎK YOᑌ ✌️

        1. Author

          😂😂 GOOGᒪE ᑕᗩᑎ ᖴIᑎᗪ ᗩᑎYOᑎE ᗩᑎYᗯᕼEᖇE 😉
          Thank you for sharing the link! 🤸‍♂️🤸‍♂️✌️

  3. I think I would have enjoyed being at that dinner when he walked in with his boxers.

    1. Author

      Yeah me too 😂😂 especially in 1935-1940… I’m sure he shocked 😮 some girls at that dinner table

        1. Author

          😂😂 so true… growing up in XX centuries has disadvantages

  4. The world lost another ‘Author’ too soon! Will be ‘Googling’ shortly! Thank you for the link EDC!

    1. Author


  5. A new writer to me, thank you. Love the sense of the absurd.

    1. Author

      ✌️ᕼE Iᔕ ᗩᑕTᑌᗩᒪᒪY ᑎEᗯ TO ᗰE TOO, ᗩᔕ ᗩᗷᔕᑌᖇᗪ ᗯᖇITEᖇ… I ᖇEᗩᗪ OᑎᒪY ᕼIᔕ ᐯEᖇᔕEᔕ ᖴOᖇ KIᗪᔕ 📚🤸‍♂️📝

      TᕼᗩᑎK ᑌ

  6. I love absurdism. Eugene Ionesco is probably my favorite dramatist…

    1. Author

      I’m preparing a post about him lol

        1. Author


  7. I have to read this guy now. Thanks! (He probably really was a psychopath!)

    1. Author

      😂 maybe 🙂 but he was def very dedicated to his work/literature & absurd :)) EDC (Erik) – posted a link in comments, pretty good – with short absurd stories ✌️

    1. Author

      💕💕💕 thank you

  8. I have to say I like the mindset, it’s human and observational.

    1. Author

      Thank you…yeah he was a bit “mad” (ain’t we all?) but cool dude :)) a bit ahead of time maybe

      1. Ahead of time or mad is usually a sign of being bring pretty unappreciated…

        1. Author

          Agreed 🙂 ✌️✌️

  9. “All children and old people should be brought to the center of a town and thrown into a huge hole in the ground.” WHAT? lol

    1. Author

      Yeah he was “something”…

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