Roar! Gauntlets, 1908–1914


This work is a collection of poems, plays, and essays by the Russian futurist Velimir Khlebnikov (born Viktor Khlebnikov, 1885–1922). It opens with Khlebnikov’s statement on the unity of Slavs in the aftermath of the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1908. The book includes a segment of his poem “The Wood Nymph and the Goblin,” the play Asparuh, and the drama in verse Marquise Dezes. It concludes with Khlebnikov’s reflections on railroads. The volume is illustrated by Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Burliuk. Khlebnikov was born in Astrakhan Province and lived most of his life in Kazan. He attended university in Kazan and later in Saint Petersburg but gave up academic pursuits to devote himself entirely to literature. In addition to his writing, Khlebnikov developed a life-long interest in numbers, mathematical tables, and calculations by which he tried to identify the laws governing the course of history and the fate of peoples. The late 19th–early 20th centuries became known as the Silver Age of Russian poetry, of which futurism, along with several other movements, was part. In 1912 a group of futurists that included Khlebnikov presented a manifesto, A Slap in the Face of Public Taste, which emphasized the need for poets to create a new language and to throw overboard from the “Ship of Modernity” Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and other classic authors and to proclaim the “self-sufficient word” as the core of a new aesthetic. World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917 energized Khlebnikov and influenced the content of his writing. However, his works did not conform to the standards set by the Soviet government and he fell into disfavor.

Last updated: February 18, 2015