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Sheila Fitzpatrick: Andrei Platonov, 1 December 2016

... A long, melancholy, withdrawing roar seems to be what’s left of it, which would have saddened Andrei Platonov, chronicler of the Revolution – not that he wasn’t sad enough already. Platonov was a communist, but his attempts to celebrate the arrival of utopia fell somewhere between tragedy and black humour. The ...

My Mummy’s Bones

Gaby Wood, 24 April 1997

The Foundation Pit 
by Andrei Platonov, translated by Robert Chandler and Geoffrey Smith.
Harvill, 168 pp., £14.99, May 1996, 1 86046 049 6
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... as her ‘dowry’. The Foundation Pit was written in 1930. It was never published during Platonov’s lifetime, and first appeared in print in the United States in 1978 (it was not published in the Soviet Union until 1987). This edition is a new translation. The book is reminiscent of Gogol (Platonov has been ...

The Unlucky Skeleton

Greg Afinogenov: Russian Magic Tales, 12 September 2013

Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov 
edited by Robert Chandler.
Penguin, 466 pp., £9.99, December 2012, 978 0 14 144223 5
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Red Spectres: Russian 20th-Century Gothic-Fantastic Tales 
translated by Muireann Maguire.
Angel Classics, 223 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 0 946162 80 2
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Stalin’s Ghosts: Gothic Themes in Early Soviet Literature 
by Muireann Maguire.
Peter Lang, 342 pp., £48.53, November 2012, 978 3 0343 0787 1
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... has also included literary interpreters of the folktale tradition, both famous, like Pushkin and Platonov, and obscure, like the modernising émigré writer Nadezhda Teffi. (Her refreshingly sympathetic take on Baba Yaga anticipates Gregory Maguire’s Wicked by five decades.) Each writer or collector is given a biographical note: some of these are even more ...

Two Jackals on a Leash

Jamie McKendrick: Eugenio Montale, 1 July 1999

Eugenio Montale: Collected Poems 1920-54 
translated by Jonathan Galassi.
Carcanet, 626 pp., £29, November 1998, 1 85754 425 0
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... Ecclesiastes which is Arrowsmith’s guess, documented again here. Joseph Brodsky once remarked of Andrei Platonov: ‘To talk about his pedigree, trying to fit him into this or that tradition of literature is, essentially, to move in a direction exactly opposite to the one in which he himself was moving’. The same is true of Montale. I’m torn between ...

Art Is a Cupboard!

Tony Wood: Daniil Kharms, 8 May 2008

Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms 
edited and translated by Matvei Yankelevich.
Overlook Duckworth, 287 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 58567 743 6
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... where he’d been able to secure paid work. (The same is true of many Soviet writers, including Andrei Platonov.) After a few months in exile in Kursk, Kharms returned to Leningrad in late 1932, and spent the remaining ten years of his life there, struggling to earn a living writing nonsense rhymes for children. Poems such as ‘Ivan Ivanich ...

Howling Soviet Monsters

Tony Wood: Vladimir Sorokin, 30 June 2011

The Ice Trilogy 
by Vladimir Sorokin, translated by Jamey Gambrell.
NYRB, 694 pp., £12.99, April 2011, 978 1 59017 386 2
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Day of the Oprichnik 
by Vladimir Sorokin.
Farrar, Straus, 191 pp., $23, March 2011, 978 0 374 13475 4
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... and eating all the other characters. Subsequent works contain parodic imitations of Dostoevsky, Platonov, Tolstoy and Akhmatova. As with many writers of the Soviet counterculture, Sorokin’s work did not begin to appear in book form in Russia until the system that had been his main target collapsed. His first collection of stories, written in the early ...

Good Communist Homes

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 27 July 2017

The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution 
by Yuri Slezkine.
Princeton, 1096 pp., £29.95, August 2017, 978 0 691 17694 9
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... to literary works, most frequently Mayakovsky’s and Babel’s writing for the early years and Platonov’s and Leonov’s for the later ones. There are endnotes referencing secondary works, particularly those of intellectual historians who share Slezkine’s eschatological view of Bolshevism. The endnotes are no doubt to remind us that the book is, inter ...

Russia’s Managed Democracy

Perry Anderson: Why Putin?, 25 January 2007

... endorsement of the Russia that is now emerging. The leading exponent of this view, the economist Andrei Shleifer, helped – not coincidentally – to lay the foundations of the new order, working in Moscow as one of the drafters of Yeltsin’s privatisations, and beneficiaries of the proceeds. Project director of the Harvard Institute for International ...

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