History of Literature

Russian literature


Velimir Khlebnikov

Velimir Khlebnikov (Russian: Велими́р Хле́бников; first name also spelled Velemir; last name also spelled Chlebnikov, Hlebnikov, Xlebnikov), pseudonym of Viktor Vladimirovich Khlebnikov (9 November 1885 (28 October 1885 (O.S.)) – 28 June 1922), was a central part of the Russian Futurist movement, but his work and influence stretch far beyond it.

Khlebnikov belonged to the most significant Russian Futurist group Hylaea (along with Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksei Kruchenykh, David Burliuk, and Benedikt Livshits), but had already written many significant poems before the Futurist movement in Russia had taken shape. Among his contemporaries, he was regarded as "a poet's poet" (Mayakovsky referred to him as a "poet for producers") and a maverick genius.

Khlebnikov is known for poems such as "Incantation by Laughter", "Bobeobi Sang The Lips", “The Grasshopper” (all 1908-9), “Snake Train” (1910), the prologue to the Futurist opera Victory over the Sun (1913), dramatic works such as “Death’s Mistake” (1915), prose works “Ka” (1915), and the so-called ‘super-tale’ (сверхповесть) “Zangezi”, a sort of ecstatic drama written partly in invented languages of gods and birds.

Khlebnikov's book Zangezi (1922).In his work, Khlebnikov experimented with the Russian language, drawing upon its roots to invent huge numbers of neologisms, and finding significance in the shapes and sounds of individual letters of the Cyrillic alphabet. Along with Kruchenykh, he originated zaum.

He wrote futurological essays about such things as the possible evolution of mass communication ("The Radio of the Future") and transportation and housing ("Ourselves and Our Buildings"). He described a world in which people live and travel about in mobile glass cubicles that can attach themselves to skyscraper-like frameworks, and in which all human knowledge can be disseminated to the world by radio and displayed automatically on giant book-like displays at streetcorners.

In his last years, Khlebnikov became fascinated by Slavic mythology and Pythagorean numerology, and drew up long "Tables of Destiny" decomposing historical intervals and dates into functions of the numbers 2 and 3.

Khlebnikov died of paralysis while a guest in the house of his friend Pyotr Miturich near Kresttsy.

A minor planet 3112 Velimir discovered by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1977 is named after him.



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