UW Press




FaceBook Twitter Tumblr GoodReads UW Press Newsletter

UW Press Blog







UW Madison

American Association of University Presses




That Third Guy
A Comedy from the Stalinist 1930s with Essays on Theater

A mix of philosophy and farce in the vein of Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

This collection of theater writings by the Russian modernist Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky brings his powerful, wildly imaginative vision of theater to an English-language audience for the first time. The centerpiece is his play That Third Guy (1937), a farce written at the onset of the Stalinist Terror and never performed. Its plot builds on Alexander Pushkin's poem "Cleopatra," while parodying the themes of Eros and empire in the Cleopatra tales of two writers Krzhizhanovsky adored: Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. In a chilling echo of the Soviet 1930s, Rome here is a police state, and the Third Guy (a very bad poet) finds himself in its dragnet. As he scrambles to escape his fate, the end of the Roman Republic thunders on offstage.

The volume also features selections from Krzhizhanovsky's compelling and idiosyncratic essays on Shakespeare, Pushkin, Shaw, and the philosophy of theater. Professionally, he worked with director Alexander Tairov at the Moscow Kamerny Theater, and his original philosophy of the stage bears comparison with the great theater theorists of the twentieth century. In these writings, he reflects on the space and time of the theater, the resonance of language onstage, the experience of the actor, and the relationship between the theater and the everyday. Commentary by Alisa Ballard Lin and Caryl Emerson contextualizes Krzhizhanovsky's writings.


Sigizmund KrzhizhanovskySigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887–1950) was a Russian writer of Polish heritage who lived in Moscow. His short stories, largely unacceptable to Soviet censorship, began to appear in 1989, and many are now available in English.

Alisa Ballard Lin
is an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at The Ohio State University.



“Wittily intertextual. . . . Its wryly irreverent concern with the silencing of the artist by imperial authorities would never have been approved by the censors.”
Times Literary Supplement

“This beautifully crafted volume is so compelling that one hopes a monograph on Krzhizhanovsky’s theatrical life will follow.”
The Russian Review

“This charming volume makes a notable contribution to the growing English-language literature by and about Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, one of the rediscovered gems of twentieth-century Russian literature.”
—Thomas Seifrid, author of The Word Made Self


Publicity and Press Kit Resources

Click here for current & upcoming UW Press events

Download high resolution cover, color

Download high resolution cover, b/w

Download high resolution author photo, color

Download high resolution author photo, b/w

All images are at least 2.25 inches at 300 dpi wide; current title covers are a minimum of 1500 px wide/6 inches wide at 300 dpi. Please contact us if you need a custom size.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)



Of Related Interest


The Uncensored Boris Godunov
The Case for Pushkin's Original Comedy with Annotated Text and Translation
Chester Dunning with Caryl Emerson, Sergei Fomichev, Lidiia Lotman, and Antony Wood


Hannah Arendt, the Two Adornos, and Walter Benjamin
Carl Djerassi

That Third Guy

Larger images

August 2018
LC: 2017046467 PG
328 pp. 6 x 9
10 b/w illus.

Book icon
Cloth $79.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-31710-2
Shopping cart

Review Cart