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Velimir Khlebnikov

Velimir Khlebnikov

Russian writer
Velimir Khlebnikov
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Russian writer
A.K.A. Velimir Viktor Vladimirovich Khlebnikov
Was Poet Writer Playwright Prosaist
From Russia
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature
Gender male
Birth 8 November 1885, Malye Derbety, Russia
Death 28 June 1922, Kresttsy, Russia (aged 36 years)
Star sign Scorpio
Residence Russia; Russia
The details (from wikipedia)


Viktor Vladimirovich Khlebnikov, better known by the pen name Velimir Khlebnikov (Russian: Велими́р Хле́бников, [vʲɪlʲɪˈmʲir ˈxlʲɛbnʲɪkəf]; 9 November [O.S. 28 October] 1885 – 28 June 1922), was a Russian poet and playwright, a central part of the Russian Futurist movement, but his work and influence stretch far beyond it. Influential linguist Roman Jakobson hailed Khlebnikov as "world's greatest poet of the XXth century".


Viktor Vladimirovich Khlebnikov was born in 1885 in Malye Derbety, Astrakhan Governorate, Russian Empire (in present-day Kalmykia). He was of Russian, Armenian and Zaporozhian Cossack descent. He moved to Kazan, where he attended school. He then attended school in Saint Petersburg. He eventually quit school to become a full-time writer.

Velimir Khlebnikov, painted in 1910 by M. Larionov

Khlebnikov belonged to Hylaea, the most significant Russian Futurist group (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 was involved in the publication of A Slap in the Face of Public Taste in 1912, which was a critical component of the Russian futurism poetry.

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 such as "Ka" (1915), and the so-called 'super-tale' (сверхповесть) "Zangezi", a sort of ecstatic drama written partly in invented languages of gods and birds. He published Selected Poems with Postscript, 1907–1914 circa 1914. Kazimir Malevich and Pavel Filonov co-illustrated it.

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 Cyrillic. 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.

Although Khlebnikov had supported the 1917 Russian Revolution and shared many of its utopian visions, his works were criticized by the Soviets for not conforming to the strictures of socialist realism.

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 while a guest in the house of his friend Pyotr Miturich near Kresttsy, in June 1922. There has been no medical diagnosis of his last illness; he suffered from gangrene and paralysis (he seems not to have recovered the use of his legs after his 1920 hospitalization in Kharkov), and it has been suggested that he died of blood poisoning or toxemia.

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

Wingletting with the goldenscrawl
Of its finest sinews,
The grasshopper loaded its trailer-belly
With many coastal herbs and faiths.
     "Ping, ping, ping!" tra-lah-ed the zingzinger.
O, swanderful!
O, illuminate!

Кузнечик/Grasshopper (1908-1909)

Publishing history

Long poems
  • 1910: “Snake Train”
  • 1913: Prologue to the Futurist opera Victory over the Sun
  • 1912: The Little Devil
  • 1912: Teacher and Student. Conversation
  • 1914: Roar! Gauntlets, 1908–1914
  • 1915: Death’s Mistake
  • 1921: "Washerwoman & other poems
  • 1922: Zangezi (сверхповесть)
Radio Project
  • 1921: The Radio of the Future
Short Stories
  • 1913: Nikolai
  • 1913: "Nikolai"
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 07 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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