‘A Little Bit of Metaphysics and Astronomy’ by Urmuz, translated by Marina Sofia

Urmuz is the pen name of one of the most unusual yet influential writers Romania has ever had, despite his brief literary career (he committed suicide in 1923) and his meagre output (he left behind at most sixty pages of writing in total). While some compare his flash fiction type of works to the tragic absurdity of Kafka, and others emphasise his comic tour de force à la Lewis Carroll, to me he is far more clearly linked to Tristan Tzara (also a Romanian) and the Dadaists. 

“It’s not true – all the table companions agreed – that ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. No – they affirmed with all their might – in the beginning, long before any word appeared, there must have been sign language, because it is highly unlikely that cosmic matter or heavenly bodies learnt to speak out from the very start. It was quite possible that they were incapable at first of even asking to go outside, or at the very least to say ‘papa’ or ‘mama’.”

Published in Firmament Vol. 3, No. 1, Sublunary Editions, 2023

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