The Teacher of Symmetry - Echo-Novel
ca. 402 pages
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A masterfully crafted, ironically grounded, yet unabashedly melancholy novel – a stocktaking of his life and work: a masterpiece by a world class author writing at the height of his powers.
Andrej Bitow is well known for the genredefying mirrorings, rewritings, and ingenious twists and turns of his novels. With The Teacher of Symmetry, he has truly perfected his art. The book consists of nine texts, presumably written by a certain A. Tired-Boffin, whose original »Teacher of Symmetry« is said to be published in London in 1937. This obscure book is long out of print, and so Bitow has ›reconstructed‹ it from memory, or ›translated‹ it from the original, as he puts it. The whole process is reminiscent of the late medieval scribal tradition and allows Bitow to devote himself to the Last Things of literary existence: the relationship between the author and his creation; the guilt and pain that accompany the life of the writer; the love that must be sacrificed to writing. Destiny and freedom, faith and scepticism, and finally Russia »as God’s attempt to substitute space for time«.
»Andrei Bitov endows Russian literature with a unique tone.« Weltwoche
Andrej Bitow was born in 1937 in Leningrad, where he studied geology. Since 1959 he has published numerous short stories, essays, novels, and travel writings. In 1990 he was awarded the Pushkin Prize. He achieved international fame with his 1978 novel Пушкинский дом (Pushkin House, German edition 1983). Bitov currently lives and writes in Moscow and St. Petersburg.