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Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

Sigizmund Dominikovich Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950) was a Russian short-story writer who described himself as being “known for being unknown,” and most of his writings were published posthumously. He was born in Kiev to a Polish family in 1887. In university, he studied law. In 1912, at the age of twenty-five, he traveled through Europe, visiting Paris, Heidelberg, and Milan. In 1922, at thirty-five, he left Kiev for Moscow, where he lived for the rest of his life. In Moscow, Krzhizhanovsky wrote articles and gave lectures, in particular at Alexander Tairov’s Drama Studio. He also worked as a consultant to Tairov’s Chamber Theater. Meanwhile, he wrote novellas and stories, which were never published – either due to economic problems (bankrupt publishers) or political problems (Soviet censors). Twenty years passed in this way until, in 1941, with Krzhizhanovsky now fifty-four, a collection of stories was finally scheduled for publication – but then the Second World War intervened, preventing even that collection from appearing. In May 1950 he suffered a stroke and lost the use of speech. He died at the end of the year but the place where he was buried is not known. His works – almost all of them unpublished – were stored by his lifelong companion, Anna Bovshek, in her apartment: in her clothes chest, under some brocade. In 1976 the scholar Vadim Perelmuter discovered Krzhizhanovsky’s archive and in 1989, he published one of his short stories. Only Between 2001 and 2008, Perelmuter finally edited a five-volume edition of Krzhizhanovsky’s works. 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 are sometimes compared to the fictions of Jorge Luis Borges.

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