Matvei Yanelevich- Theorizing Translation
“The Desk Drawer and the Window: The Private Writing of Daniil Kharms as a
Basis for Theorizing Translation”
Monday March 3rd, 2014
Erb Memorial Union- Gumwood Room*
*this is a location change, updated on 2/28/14
To write for the desk drawer is the Russian expression for a kind of manuscript production not meant for publication because of its content (political, private, pornographic), its lack of quality (un-professional, amateur, pseudo-literary), or the writer’s attitude of apathy or active concealment. The desk-drawer manuscripts of Russian surrealist/absurdist writer Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) exhibit this fugitive position in respect to print: not conceived of as preliminary to publication, they are hidden, private, or meant only for a dedicatee’s individual reading. Kharms’s fragmentary style, developed under the conditions of private writing, resulted in poems, stories, plays, and incantations that foreground the surface and gesture of writing. The focus of this talk will be the special problems for the translator and current translation theory arising from this peculiar situation where the source text- unfinished, unstable, evading standard typographic setting–is not just a text, but a graphic performance.