Andrei Platonov: Uncertainties of Spirit

Overview

The study of Andrei Platonov (1899-1951) focuses on the interrelation of philosophical themes, imagery, and verbal devices in his prose. Platonov's intellectual roots lie in Russian utopian thought of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was particularly influenced by the writings of Fedorov and Bogdanov, but may also be seen as belonging to a broader tradition of efforts to overcome epistemological dualism that includes such figures as Solov'ev, Bakhtin, and Pasternak. The world view expressed ...
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Overview

The study of Andrei Platonov (1899-1951) focuses on the interrelation of philosophical themes, imagery, and verbal devices in his prose. Platonov's intellectual roots lie in Russian utopian thought of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was particularly influenced by the writings of Fedorov and Bogdanov, but may also be seen as belonging to a broader tradition of efforts to overcome epistemological dualism that includes such figures as Solov'ev, Bakhtin, and Pasternak. The world view expressed in Platonov's literary works is a peculiar blend of idealist longings and materialist convictions. At its center stands his dominant image of being's vulnerable residence in the physical body. At the same time, Platonov's world view was significantly shaped by his implicit dialogue with Soviet Marxism-Leninism, and later Stalinism, both of which claimed to be building utopia. Platonov's unique literary style embeds the high-flown rhetoric of Soviet propaganda, Marxism-Leninism, and the technical jargon associated with 'socialist construction' in the deforming medium of the speech of Russia's unlettered masses. In its use of deformation as a trope, this style represents a development of the Russian tradition of skaz narration in the direction of Modernism; its inner workings are closely related to those of the pun. In Platonov's masterpieces of the late 192Os and early 193Os, linguistic parody comes together with existential angst and dystopian doubts about the course of Soviet history, and in them he reveals the extent to which the Soviet mindset is itself a linguistic phenomenon. Thomas Seifrid concludes his study by considering the works Platonov wrote between 1934 and 1951. In these he maneuvered to preserve some of the essentials of his earlier poetic while fusing them with the expected formulae of socialist realism.
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Editorial Reviews

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"This book is a very welcome addition to Platonov studies, utopian studies, and the study of early twentieth-century Russian intellectual history. Building on a number of previous works, Seifrid does a convincing job synthesizing the literary and philosophical currents within which this writer, so unique and difficult to place, should be interpreted....this is a very valuable addition that, it is hoped, will encourage inclusion of Platanov in syllabi of courses and seminars on utopia." Utopian Studies
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
List of abbreviations
Introduction: The problem of reading Platonov 1
1 Consciousness and matter: Platonov in Voronezh and Tambov 1917-1926 32
2 Learning the language of being 1926-1927 56
3 Chevengur and the utopian genre 99
4 Platonov and the culture of the Five-Year Plan 1929-1931 132
5 "Socialist Realist" Platonov 1934-1951 176
Conclusion 199
Notes 204
Select bibliography 250
Index 267
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