The Portable Platonov

Published by Glas: New Russian Writing in 1999. Glas edited by Natasha Perova and Arch Tait


Platonov vividly presents the dreams of the builders of socialism in all their inarticulate confusion, with a sympathy not lessened by an unaparalleled awareness of their tragic consequences. Through incongruity of verbal choices and juxtapositions Platonov expanded the limits of meaning and lent words new and unexpected dimensions.

After a lifetime of persecution Andrey Platonov (1899-1951) has emerged as one of the greatest Russian writers of the century, an artist of profound genius, integrity, and clarity of vision. His distinctive writing style has long defied translation. Joseph Brodsky looked on him as the equal of Joyce, Kafka, and Proust. This collection includes representative facets of Platanov’s genius, his play Fourteen Red Huts, folktales, and his story Among Animals and Plants.

In this century the best Russian prose has been written by our poets and Platonov, but he is an exception . . . Platonov speaks of a nation which in a sense has become a victim of its own language; or, more precisely, he speaks of this language itself which turns out to be capable of generating a fictive world and then falling into grammatical dependence on it.

—Joseph Brodsky

No work of literature conveys this yawning gap between aspiration and reality, between truth and falsehood, as powerfully and succinctly as The Foundation Pit by Andrey Platonov.

—Geoffrey Hosking

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