David Burliuk

(1882 - 1967)


Vladimir Mayakovskii

Владимир Маяковский, трагедия

Vladimir Mayakovskii, a tragedy

Moscow: Gileia, 1914

176 x 134 mm. 44 pages 

Edition: 500





Vladimir Maiakovskii, a tragedy is an absurdist play in two acts, with a prologue and an epilogue. In November 1913, Maiakovskii inserted an advertisement in the paper Sovremennaia Slovo (The Word of Today). He asked for students and other inexperienced people to perform the play. Tomashevskii, a student, went to the auditions and was picked by Maiakovskii (who was dressed up in top hat and tails) to play one of the strange characters. The subject of the play is a city in turmoil. In the play all kind of weird characters recite Maiakovskii’s verses. One is ‘the old man with the thin black cat’, here seen in the illustration that Vladimir Burliuk, David Burliuk’s younger brother, made. Another is ‘the man with one eye and without the other ear’ also drawn by Vladimir Burliuk. They speak lines like ‘I eat potatoes/ and felt slippers/ and hamburgers low in fat/ and the dead body of a cat’. When the play was performed the attendants, eager for a scandal, were a little disappointed because the play went better than was expected. There was no shouting or throwing vegetables. The reception in the press was positive. A few months later David Burliuk published the play and enclosed eight illustrated pages by  himself and his brother Vladimir.


Ex libris 1974, nr. 187

Berlin 1983, pp. 88-91

Bologna 1993, p. 87

Mainz 1993, nr. 40

Getty 1997, nr. 548

Andel 2002, p. 65

Moma 2002, nr. 65

Nijmegen 2004, p. 65

Brussels 2005, nr. 23

Hellyer 2006, nr. 356

Khachturov 2009, p. 41

Moscow 2010, nr. 61