January 11, 2008KR Blog

Today I Wrote Nothing

Daniil Kharms

Before you read any of this, you have to go here and listen to Matvei Yankelevich reading his translation of Daniil Kharms’s “Blue Notebook 4.” If that doesn’t work, try here.

Before you read any of this, you have to go here and read more selections from The Blue Notebook.

Before you read any of this, you have to go here and buy Today I Wrote Nothing: Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms, translated by Yankelvich.

Before you get to this paragraph, you have to have begun to suspect I could not come up with an especially smart thought for this post, but I may have had more luck with an especially stupid one.

Before you give up completely, you should go here to read George Saunder’s thoughts on Kharms, which are smart ones, very. (“Stories are, in a sense, a scam.”)

Before you regain any confidence in me, you should watch this, but I’m not sure why.

The Kenyon Review was founded in 1939. The resources for the new literary journal were provided by Gordon Keith Chalmers, President of Kenyon College, while the inspiration to establish the journal and raise the national stature of the institution had come from his wife Roberta Teale Swartz, herself a poet and a friend and protege of Robert Frost. Frost encouraged the idea and visited Kenyon more than once. The poet and critic John Crowe Ransom was recruited to Kenyon by Chalmers with the express purpose in mind of his launching a distinguished magazine. During his 21-year tenure, Ransom published such internationally known writers as Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, William Empson, Mark Van Doren, Kenneth Burke, and Delmore Schwartz, as well as younger writers: Flannery O'Connor, Robert Lowell, and Peter Taylor, to name a few. It was perhaps the best known and most influential literary magazine in the English-speaking world during the 1940s and '50s. In 1969, discouraged by the quarterly's financial burdens and sagging reputation, Kenyon College ceased publication of The Kenyon Review. The journal was revived in 1979, and in June 1990, internationally acclaimed poet and editor Marilyn Hacker was hired as the Review's first full-time (and first female) editor. She quickly broadened the quarterly's scope to include more minority and marginalized viewpoints. In April 1994, the trustees directed that The Kenyon Review be continued, but with significant cost-reducing and revenue-enhancing initiatives. Hacker left and David Lynn (acting editor in 1989-90), Kenyon English professor, was named editor on a two-thirds time basis. The magazine's financial picture has since stabilized and improved dramatically. The creation of a Kenyon Review Board of Trustees and a renewed commitment by Kenyon College combined to guarantee the financial health of the Review and to free its editors to pursue increased excellence. Such is the status of The Kenyon Review today.