The Foundation Pit

The Foundation Pit

by Andrey Platonov
     
 

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Translated from the Russian by Robert & Elizabeth Chandler and Olga Meerson With notes and an afterword by Robert Chandler and Olga Meerson

In Andrey Platonov’s The Foundation Pit, a team of workers has been given the job of digging the foundation of an immense edifice, a palatial home for the perfect future that, they are convinced, is at hand. But the

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Overview

Translated from the Russian by Robert & Elizabeth Chandler and Olga Meerson With notes and an afterword by Robert Chandler and Olga Meerson

In Andrey Platonov’s The Foundation Pit, a team of workers has been given the job of digging the foundation of an immense edifice, a palatial home for the perfect future that, they are convinced, is at hand. But the harder the team works, the deeper they dig, the more things go wrong, and it becomes clear that what is being dug is not a foundation but an immense grave.

The Foundation Pit is Platonov’s most overtly political book, written in direct response to the staggering brutalities of Stalin’s collectivization of Russian agriculture. It is also a literary masterpiece. Seeking to evoke unspeakable realities, Platonov deforms and transforms language in pages that echo both with the alienating doublespeak of power and the stark simplicity of prayer.

This English translation is the first and only one to be based on the definitive edition published by Pushkin House in Moscow. It includes extensive notes and, in an appendix, several striking passages deleted by Platonov. Robert Chandler and Olga Meerson’s afterword discusses the historical context and style of Platonov’s most haunted and troubling work.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Completed in 1930 but unpublished during his lifetime, Platonov's masterpiece, a scathing satire of the Soviet attempt to build a workers' utopia, gauges the vast human tragedy of Stalinism, portraying a society organized and regimented around a monstrous lie, and thus bereft of meaning, hope, integrity, humanity. The novel's central image is the digging of an immense foundation pit for a communal high-rise project to house the local proletariat, a project that remains a big hole. The story is also eerily prescient: as Chandler notes in his valuable introduction, it foreshadows the doomed Palace of Soviets, which was begun in Moscow in 1932 but never built after years of excavation. Loaded with irony and images of the walking dead, and spiked with mordant digs at Soviet conformity and bureaucracy, Platonov's somnambulistic nightmare is filled with characters cut off from normal human feelings and reality as they convince themselves that party slogans, precepts and careerist hustling are meaningful keys to the future. Platonov (1899-1951), himself a disillusioned revolutionary who fought in the Red Army during Russia's civil war, was also a deep lyric prose-poet of everyday life and nature, as revealed in this beautiful translation. His dark parable is a great dirge for Mother Russia as well as a savage analysis of the split consciousness fostered by an oppressive system. Platonov's books are still being unearthed in Russia decades after his death. The first English translations of The Foundation Pit came out in the 1980s, but has since been found to be incomplete. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Written from 1929 to 1930, this is Platonov's satirical portrait of the harshness of Soviet life and the chronic alienation of its people through collectivization.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781860460494
Publisher:
Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/1996
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 8.79(h) x 0.89(d)

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