Episode 4: Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Memories of the Future

Memories-of-the-FutureThough not officially state policy until 1932, socialist realism had been the unofficial type of art in Russia since the October Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks sought to put art into the service of the state. Art had to be easily understood and should convey a positive message about the Soviet Union and the struggle of the Proletariat. In Memories of the Future we find seven stories by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky that, as the book’s blurb says, were considered too subversive even to show to a publisher. These seven stories not only examine the underbelly of Soviet Moscow but they also indulge in and praise the life of the imagination, the ability to tell a story that seemingly has no relationship with reality, all in an effort to convey that reality more fully.

NYRB Classics published their edition of Memories of the Future in October of 2009, and it is the book we’ll be talking about in Episode 4 of The Mookse and the Gripes Podcast.

In Episode 5 we will be discussing Friedrich Reck’s Diary of a Man in Despair, if the book gets to us in time. If not, we will be discussing Nancy Mitford’s The Sun King.

Show Notes (54:33)

  • Intro
  • Brief Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky Bio (02:37)
  • Brief Synopsis (04:45)
  • “Quadraturin” (08:42)
  • “The Bookmark” (17:03)
  • “The Thirteenth Category of Reason” (23:44)
  • “Red Snow” (26:30)
  • “The Branch Line” (29:35)
  • “Memories of the Future” (32:53)

Some Links

Episode Credits

  • Co-Host Trevor Berrett
  • Co-Host Brian Berrett
  • Introduction Music — “Where We Fall We’ll Lie” by Jeff Zentner, from his album The Dying Days of Summer (used with permission)
  • Outro Music — “Promise Me That You Will Never Die” by Jeff Zentner, from his album Hymns to the Darkness (used with permission)

9 thoughts on “Episode 4: Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Memories of the Future

  1. I have this on the to-be-read pile, but I’m most looking forward to your discussion of Diary of Man in Despair, the most memorable book I read in 2013.

  2. Do you mean 2012, or have you already read it this year? :) Regardless, I am heartened by your comment and even more excited to read Diary of a Man in Despair.

  3. Oh good heavens, yes, 2012. I pulled it out of the library archives last spring, and have kept it by the night table ever since – a horrifying miracle of a book, essential reading. I guess I’ll need to get my own copy since otherwise I’m unlikely to return the library’s without a struggle.

  4. Hi Trevor. I just finished listening to your podcast of the “Memories of the Future” story collection. This one is on my to-read list, and yours and Brian’s amiable discussion has raised my anticipation. How fortunate we are to even be able to enjoy Mr K’s works- thanks to his wife, I guess, and others I would assume. Great work, guys! Look forward to listening in, and peeking in, through the months ahead.

  5. Mike, thanks so much for listening :).

    Please let us know what you think of Krzhizhanovsky when you get to him. I hope we made his work sound appealing because it certainly is.

  6. I always think of Chateaubriand and Krzhizhanovsky together for some reason: both fantastic short-form discoveries from the past couple of years to revisit again and again. And great podcast once again.

  7. Thanks for the kind words, Lee and Stu.

    By the way, Lee, do you mean Châteaureynaud, or am I missing out on yet another great short-form discovery of the last couple of years? Either way, I could go for a good steak right about now.

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