Cover photograph by Baron Adolphe de Mayer of Vaslav Nijinsky is from the publication L'Après–midi d'un Faune. Copyright © Eakins Press Foundation, 1977; reproduced with permission from the publisher.
Coedited by Bradford Morrow and Peter Constantine.Subscribe to Conjunctions here or buy this issue as an e-book. To receive notifications of updates to the issue-in-progress, information on the themes of upcoming issues, and announcements when we post full texts from our forthcoming issue, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
A landmark anthology of previously untranslated and unpublished important works from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Anton Chekhov, Fourteen Stories
A remarkable collection of short stories by the acknowledged master of the form, translated by Peter Constantine and appearing here for the first time in English. Five of these pieces show Chekhov as an unexpectedly innovative and formally playful stylist.
Truman Capote, Christmas Vacation
Written when the author was a precocious eleven years old, this novella is the most substantial survivor of the author’s earliest works. Exuberant, comical, sophisticated and sometimes violent, Christmas Vacation is divided into five chapters: “Christmas Guest,” “The Uninvited Guests,” “Uncle William Makes Trouble,” and “The Hoodlums Leave.” Capote’s own troubled relationship with his mother and aunt, and a nosy neighbor lady, cast in the composite character of Mrs. Busybody, is explicitly present in the story. The colloquial dialogue shows Capote’s natural ear for idiom, and the narrative itself—often slapstick—moves forward quickly to its hilarious conclusion. Conjunctions reproduces the entire 27-page original holograph manuscript, and a transcription with a foreword by Bradford Morrow.
Click here to see a reproduction of the first page of the manuscript
Yasunari Kawabata, Silence and The Boat-Women: A Dance Drama
In April 1958, ten years before Kawabata received the Nobel Prize, the great Japanese author of Snow Country and Thousand Cranes published, in the words of translator Michael Emmerich, “A stunning difficult collection of works titled beautifully Fuji no Hatsuyuki (First Snow on Fuji).” The short story “Silence” strongly echoes Kawabata’s masterpiece The Master of Go. The Boat-Women was a departure for Kawabata: the first of only two works for the stage he ever created. Both pieces appear here for the first time in English translation with a note by Mr. Emmerich.
Thomas Bernhard, Claus Peymann and Hermann Beil on Sulzweise
A hilarious, acerbic one-act play by the magnificent Austrian writer, in which the artistic director and his dramaturg sit on a hill overlooking Vienna, eat Wiener schnitzel, and hatch a scheme to stage all of Shakespeare’s plays in all languages using a cast of thousands in one grand evening! Bernhard himself is mentioned in passing—“don’t ever listen to Bernhard that arrogant theater monster”—in this important translation by Gitta Honegger, the American representative of the Thomas Bernhard International Foundation and author of a critical volume about Bernhard forthcoming from Yale University Press.
Michel Leiris, 1944 Journal
French anthropologist and writer Leiris’s harrowing eyewitness account of the Liberation of Paris, in translation by recent Lannan Award winner Lydia Davis, and with an afterword by Maurice Blanchot, The Instant of My Death, in which this reclusive author remembers, in his own way, that same period of history. Both Davis and Jeff Fort, translator of the Blanchot work, have provided insightful contextualizing prefaces to each of these historical texts.
Vaslav Nijinsky, From The Unknown Fourth Notebook
The diary of Vaslav Nijinsky was writen in early 1919, shortly before the great dancer was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Nijinsky’s first three notebooks give an account, in Russian, of his thoughts at the time, and the fourth notebook contains sixteen letters that he wrote in French, Russian, and Polish to various people. When Nijinsky’s wife Romola published the notebooks in 1936, she included three of the five letters to be published in Conjunctions, but in a heavily bowdlerized form. These are letters to Serge Diaghlev, to Nijinsky’s mother, and to the President of the Council of Allied Forces—to which this issue will add letters to Jean Cocteau and to Jesus. Since then, Romola’s version has been the only English edition of the diary, and until recently it was the basis of all other translations. Thus the fourth notebook has remained largely unknown. With an introductory note by acclaimed dance writer Joan Acocella and Russian translator Kyril FitzLyon.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Life Sentence
This missing chapter from The House of the Dead was discovered by Dostoevsky’s friend A. P. Milyukov. Printed in Dostoevsky’s official complete works, Polnoe Sobrante Sochnenii, it appears her for the first time in English, in a translation from Russian by Peter Constantine.
Djuna Barnes, Eighteen Poems
Edited by Barnes’s biographer, Phillip Herring, and Barnes translator and scholar, Osias Stuttman, eighteen unpublished poems by the great author of Nightwood will appear here for the first time. Included are several of Barnes’s personal favorites which were left uncollected during her lifetime. This selection should generate, we believe, a reassessment of Djuna Barnes, America’s 21st century John Donne, rhyming brilliantly strange words in iambic pentameter as it’s never been seen before.
Eugène Ionesco, From The Black and the White
The first appearance in print in English of Ionesco’s fanciful and oneric dream-texts. Ionesco’s own drawings and his whimsical interpretations of them comprise the author’s version of a personal Rorschach test. Translated from French by Esther Allen.
Vladimir Nabokov, The House Was There
This recently discovered, never before published 1951 text was taped into Vera Nabokov’s copy, the dedication copy, of Conclusive Evidence, the British edition of Nabokov’s Speak, Memory. In this brief yet extraordinary text, Nabokov revisits his family’s house as a ghost along with an unidentified sidekick named Hopkinson. With an afterword by Sarah Funke.
Mary Butts, Fumerie
An unpublished short story by the English Modernist Mary Butts which explores the author’s opium experimentations even as it depicts in fictional form the obsession and manners of friends, among them Jean Cocteau.
Robert Musil, The Snowstorm
This one-act play by the author of the magisterial novel “The Man Without Qualities” is, in the words of translator Burton Pike, “A kaleidoscopic and disturbing fantasy that jumbles fragments of a rich literary heritage with modernist techniques in a kind of dramatic Cubism.” Written in 1920, this play is translated for the first time into English and with an informative preface by Burton Pike.
Anna Akhmatova, Poems and Fragments, 1909–1964
“The life of Anna Akmatova spans one of the most brilliant and at the same time most horrifying periods of Russian history,” writes Roberta Reeder, author of the definitive Akmatova biography and translator of these newly discovered poems by the great Russian poet. Appearing for the first time in English are over fifteen works by Akmatova, including poems written under duress during the Stalinist regime but which show, as in the music of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, a subtle, stunning parodistic irony. With an insightful afterword by the translator.
Mikhail Bulgakov, Three Stories
The Master and Margherita is an acknowledged 20th-century classic. For this special issue of Conjunctions Anneta Greenlee has translated from the Russian three previously unpublished short stories by Bulgakov; “Madamoiselle Janna,” “Jumping the Line,” and “The Conductor and the Member of the Imperial Family.”
Federigo Tozzi, Three Stories
Three stories never before translated into English, by one of the great Italian modernists whose work is essentially unknown in this country. Translated from Italian and with an afterword by Minna Proctor, winner of this year’s PEN Poggioli Prize for translators.
E. M. Cioran, From Cahiers
Selected by Romanian writer Norman Manea, Cioran’s complex philosophy, his nihilism, his enduring love of Bach and Emily Dickinson, and his disdain for Romania is revealed in these fascinating entries from Cioran’s notebooks, translated from French by Richard Howard and with a lengthy afterword by Manea, discussing meeting Cioran and Cioran’s complex views about being a writer in exile.
Zinaida Gippius, Three Poems
Grippius, Russia’s foremost female symbolist writer, was born in 1869 in Tula and died an exile in Paris in 1945. These poems, published in English for the first time, were unavailable even in Russia until the recent fall of the Communist regime. Translated and with a note by Anneta Greenlee.
Marcel Proust, The Indifferent One
Translated by Burton Pike, Proust intended this story for Les plaisirs et les jours, but substituted another for it. It was written in 1893–94, when Proust was 22, and printed in an obscure and ephemeral periodical in 1896. As he was beginning to write A le recherche du temps perdu in 1920, Proust tried to find a copy of this story; it is not known whether he succeeded. The many links between the story and the novel are striking. The story was recovered and published in French in 1978. A markedly different translation of The Indifferent One, by Alfred Corn, has appeared in Grand Street 10:4.
C. P. Cavafy, Seven Unfinished Poems
Seven poems by the Alexandrian poet admired by E. M. Forster and influential for W. H. Auden and Lawrence Durrell (among others), translated from Greek by John Davis.
George Seferis, Cavafy’s Ithaka
This 1952 essay was written nine years before Seferis won the Nobel Prize and is published here for the first time in English. “Cavafy’s Ithaka” explores Seferis’s idea that both his work and Cavafy’s—arguably modern Greece’s greatest poets—are “marvelous journeys of self-discovery” reminiscent of Odysseus’s own decade-long search for home. Translated with a note by Susan Mathias.
Antonia Pozzi, Twelve Poems
Making her first appearance in print in English here translated from unadulterated texts that had been “edited” by her overscrupulous father, Pozzi—who committed suicide at the age of 26—is one of the most remarkable lyrical poets of Italian modernism, with imagery and textures that remind one of H. D. and Lorine Niedecker. Written between 1929 and 1938, she thought of her poems as “my secret diary”; their existence was known only to her closest childhood friends. After her death, bastardized versions of the poems were published, but here for the first time in English translations by Laurence Venuti, her work will appear in its restored form. Venuti has provided an insightful critical and biographical afterword.
Louis Couperus, Of Monotony
A sometimes surreal, sometimes satirical, sometimes self-denigrating meditation on monotony and its cousins, boredom and ennui, by the Dutch Oscar Wilde, dating from the turn of the century. Translated with a note about Couperus by Duncan Dobbelman.