by Andrey Platonov, Robert Chandler

An epic story about the search for happiness, of longing to lead, yet needing to follow, and of learning about oneself.


An epic story about the search for happiness, of longing to lead, yet needing to follow, and of learning about oneself.

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Kirkus Reviews
This is a lost treasure found: an allegorical masterpiece, written in 1935 (though unpublished in full until 1999), by one of the greatest modern Russian writers. Platonov (1899-1951), a veteran of the Russian Revolution's Red Army and a labor-camp survivor, worked as a war correspondent and an engineer before committing himself to the fiction that expressed-with lucid eloquence-his disillusionment with a social ideal that became the monolithic tyranny of Stalinism. Soul is closely related thematically to Platonov's once-notorious anti-Stalinist satires Chevengur and The Foundation Pit, and its brooding, often poetically nuanced solidarity with humble characters' lives links it with the highly praised short stories available in the English-language collection The Fierce and Beautiful World. The central figure, Nazar Chagataev, was born in the Central Asian desert region between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, abandoned for his own good by his impoverished mother, and educated at Moscow's prestigious Institute of Economics. Upon graduation, Nazar is "assigned" to return to his homeland and "rescue" his people, a nomadic ethnic group called the Dzhan ("dzhan" being the Persian word for "soul") by leading them to salvation through Communism. But this Moses is not embraced as the leader of his people-collectively characterized, brilliantly, as fiercely proud, resourceful, sexually potent, resolutely independent "souls." Nazar's unflappable idealism is (no doubt deliberately) reminiscent of the self-made "peasant" Lenin of Anna Karenina, and Platonov memorably dramatizes his simple goodness by showing it in action, in relationships with the rugged people whose integrity he respects, the pregnantwoman he marries, her teenaged daughter for whom he assumes responsibility (and who comes to love him), and his aged mother, whose "sacrifice" of her son has led, paradoxically, to his mission and fulfillment. A parable worthy of comparison with the work of Kazantzakis, Camus, and Par Lagerkvist. Platonov's translators have performed an invaluable service.

Product Details

Random House UK
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

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