Waggish

Dmitry Galkovsky: The Infinite Deadlock

There’s a huge frustration to hearing about a supposedly brilliant author (often, as with this case, in the Times Literary Supplement) and finding that his or her work has not been translated into a language you speak. Offhand, the absence of Stanislaw Lem’s Summa Technologiae has been irritating me for almost a decade, and yet I just now discovered that Frank Prengel, German scholar and Microsoft developer evangelist, has been translating it! So stop reading this and go read what Prenzel has translated so far of Summa Technologiae.

But Galkovsky is unfortunately more obscure. The only English reference I’ve found on him aside from the TLS’s offhand remark is this tantalizing snippet:

A member of the Antibooker panel of judges, Andrey Vasilevsky, says: “This is a book of extremely complicated structure, a book of annotations to a text that does not exist. Fresh annotations are made to these annotations, which forms an endless chain. Finally all gets so complicated, that the author supplements the book with a special index as to how to use it. However very few people can understand how to use that index.”

Anyone up for a translation?

I also note the similarity of this description to that of the imagined book Gigamesh in Lem’s A Perfect Vacuum:

Indeed yes: this novel is a bottomless pit; in whatever place you touch it, roads open up, no end of roads (the pattern of the commas in Chapter VI is an analogue of the map of Rome!), and roads not every which way, for they all, with their innumerable outbranchings, interweave harmoniously to form a single whole (which Hannahan proves employing topological algebra–see the Commentary, the Metamathematical Appendex, p. 811ff.). And thus everything achieves its realization…

There are rumors to the effect that Hannahan was assisted in his creation by a battery of computers furnished him by IBM.

8 Comments

  1. James
    28 October 2009

    Although I am not overly familiar with Galkovsky’s work, I suspect he is not quite the sage you are taking him for. What little I have understood of his blog suggests that he is a rather eccentric writer who might be described as an ‘internet persona’. His writing is littered with Rozanov quotes and seems to follow the same ‘ironic nationalist’ stance. As I am not able to decipher the subtleties of his language, I am merely assuming his aggressive nationalism to be ironic, perhaps it is not; he certainly spends a lot of time discussing the ‘enemies’ of modern Russia, particularly Britain, who he suspects were responsible for the creation and maintenance of the USSR, which functioned as a covert colony. As I say, I can’t be sure of his exact stance, but, judging by the comments people have left on his live journal page, his followers are either playing along with the joke, or are not aware of the intended irony. Finally, his work is highly ‘meta-critical’, and much of The Infinite Deadlock consists of commentaries on his own ideas. All of which suggests that an impending English translation is highly unlikely (though no doubt there is one in print as I write this). I would say that a readily available re-translation of Vasily Rozanov’s work would be of greater value, particularly as he is now all but impossible to read in English

    • Andrew
      11 January 2014

      >he certainly spends a lot of time discussing the ‘enemies’ of modern Russia, particularly Britain, who he suspects were responsible for the creation and maintenance of the USSR, which functioned as a covert colony.

      But this is actually true. Dmitry Galkovsky gives a huge volume of factual material to support his views. UK always was and it is an enemy of Russia.

  2. Jake
    28 October 2009

    Yeah, his Wikipedia page is pretty extensive now.

  3. Michael
    11 November 2010

    In case the problem is still actual…

    There are several people in NYC (Russian emigrants), who know D. Galkovsky personally, read this novel and possibly could know about translation or a digest. Still, I greatly doubt that ‘The Infinite Deadlock’ is published in English. Currently the book is issued in very little quantity even in Russian

  4. Nikolai
    2 January 2011

    To: Michael

    I myself discovered Dmitry Galkovsky 5 years ago. Since then, I am starting my day chechicing if everything new was added to the blog. As a blogger said: “Galkovsky is coming once a week to town square and gives $100 to everyone” (meaning that magnificient ideas are being given to everyone who is reading his blog). May be the novell mentioned not that actual now (published 15 years ago), but is an excellent piece as well.

  5. Michael
    17 January 2011

    To: Nikolai

    As for me, I’ve read the novel about eight years ago and became a real fan)) But I doubt it would be translated into English before becoming widely popular in Russian-speaking countries

  6. G.O.F
    22 February 2012

    It is Dostoevsky+Aristotel in one person. He knows more then you can imagine. No sense to translate it, I doubt that western peoples can undertand his books.

  7. OL
    12 March 2013

    - he certainly spends a lot of time discussing the ‘enemies’ of modern Russia, particularly Britain

    his blog is not some sort of hate forum, he just makes discussions about historical events – tosses in some unknown to general public facts or questions credibility of some sources, makes pros and cons lists – so that people could look for the info and try to figure things out for themselves.

    - his followers are either playing along with the joke, or are not aware of the intended irony

    there are always people who take things dead serious even if they contradict common sense + there always some trolls jumping around
    but for the most readers it is kind of a game (highly addictive), and a place to discuss things. There are also blogs and communities who post articles in “Galkovsky” style, and about related topics.

    Galkovsky also had a project where he published articles about political history (usually Russia-related) of the first half of the 20th century styled as pieces from spy novels.

    What concerns The Infinite Deadlock, it is author’s contemporary alter ego’s comments on major Russian writers and philosophers given in the broad context of Russian political life in the beginning of the 20th century before and shortly after the revolution. But it’s not exactly a piece of literary criticism, but it is experiment with blending fiction and non-fiction similar to what other contemporary authors do.

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