Loser's Guide Loser's Guide

 Loser's Guide to Life

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

At the Library 

An interesting novel: Trudy i dni Svistonova, by Konstantin Vaginov. He wrote this a while after Kozlinaia pesn' and it's rather similar. A novelist is shown at work, which means hanging around with a lot of people and taking notes in order to put them into his novel. There's a startling scene in which one of the characters, intitially pleased to hear that he plays an important part in Svistonov's novel, begs the author to read him a passage. Within minutes he is shocked and reduced: he has become a "character", somewhat ridiculous, maybe, but the really disconcerting thing is that this "character" has his own existence, and the original must leave his friends, shave his whiskers and move to another city if he is to have a legitimate life of his own.

The novel was published in 1929, some five years before the author's death. Mikhail Bakhtin remarked that one of Vaginov's themes was the decline of a great empire, and in this and Kozlinaia pesn' the twilight is palpable.

Some people translate the title as Labours and Days of Svistonov, but I assume it has something to do with Hesiod's "Works and Days", or "Erga kai Hemerai", which is known in Latin as "Opera et Dies". While "trud" does mean labour, it is also the usual word for a work (of art or whatever).

Uh-oh. The library is about to close for some holiday.


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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.