That is That

by Jason Rolfe


Daniil Kharms was a Russian Absurdist who wrote at the onset of the Soviet era – as a result, much of his work could not be published. What I like about Kharms is that his work is a clear representation of absurdity. If it is difficult to find the point in Kharms’ work that’s because, well, pointlessness was his point! Kharms saw the philosophically absurd in the world around him, and captured that same sense of universal pointlessness in his work. Kharms’ writing has often been compared to earlier forms of literary nonsense – from Swift to Lear and Carroll – along with later 20th century writers such as Flann O’Brien (in particular The Third Policeman). Kharms was unique in both content and style. He lived the way he wrote and remains one of the most fascinating figures of 20th century literature. His work has inspired my own, including a series of Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachev stories, but “That is That” is the closest I feel I’ve come to capturing the essence of Kharms’ absurdism. It might seem a bit unusual, but it is meant as a sincere tribute to a writer I truly admire.

You can read it here.