- Charlotte Humphreys
(b Tundutov, Astrakhan, Nov 9, 1885; d Santalovo, Novgorod province, June 28, 1922).
Russian poet. He studied mathematics, biology and philology at Kazan’ University before devoting himself to literature. He became a member of the Hylaea circle of Futurist poets grouped around the artist David Burlyuk, which was responsible for the production of a large number of Russian Futurist books between c. 1912 and 1916. Khlebnikov’s theory of a transrational language (zaum), formulated in 1913 with his fellow poet Aleksey Kruchonykh, had a profound influence on the work of avant-garde artists, especially Kazimir Malevich, Jean Pougny (Ivan Puni), Pavel Filonov, Vladimir Tatlin and Pyotr Miturich. Literally ‘beyond the mind’ or ‘beyond sense’, zaum was used by Khlebnikov to signify the rejection of a conventional logic that defines words in terms of a specific meaning. It involved the ‘liberation’ of words, of parts of words and of individual letters and sounds from their accepted meaning, so that they could take on new meanings within a higher system of logic that literally transcends reason. Khlebnikov’s theories for a universal, transnational language were expounded in several articles written between ...