Andrei Platonov


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Platonov, Andrei Platonovich

 

Born Aug. 20 (Sept. 1), 1899, in Voronezh; died Jan. 5, 1951, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer.

The son of a railroad shop metalworker, Platonov began working at the age of 13. In the early 1920’s he changed his surname Klimentov to Platonov. He graduated from the Voronezh Railroad Polytechnicum in 1924. From 1923 to 1926 he worked in the provinces as a land reclamation engineer and directed the construction of the Voronezh electric power plant.

In 1921, Platonov’s journalistic book Electrification was published, followed in 1922 by the poetry collection The Blue Deep. He also wrote the books Epifan Locks (1927), Flow Meadow Experts (1928), The Cherished Man (1928), and The Origin of a Master (1929). Platonov’s powerful and original talent was evident in his earliest books. His heroes are workers who “learned to think during the Revolution” and who try to understand their place and role in the world. Platonov’s “incorrect” verbal flexibility and “uneven” phraseology constitute an original way of thinking aloud, when thoughts are just coming into being and are approaching conformity with reality.

Platonov’s satirical works ridiculed the claims of bureaucrats to “think for everyone” and to replace the people’s creative activity with their own schemes. Examples are the novel Gradov City (1926) and the short stories “The Man of Nation” (1929), “Doubting Makar” (1929), and “Of Profit” (1931). Contemporary critics were unable to evaluate his satire objectively and according to its merits. In the 1930’s, Platonov wrote the short stories “Rubbish Wind,” “The Foundation Pit,” and “Dzhan,” the novella Juvenile Waters, the short story “Fro,” the novella High Tension, the play Pushkin in the Lyceum, and the novella The River Potudan (1937). In 1936 his first literary criticism was published. From 1942 to 1945, Platonov was a special correspondent for the newspaper Krasnaia zvezda. When he died he left a large legacy of manuscripts.

WORKS

Izbr. rasskazy. [Introductory article by F. Levin.] Moscow, 1958.
V prekrasnom i iarostnom mire: Povesti i rasskazy. [Introductory article by V. Dorofeev.] Moscow, 1965.
Izbrannoe. [Introductory article by F. Suchkov; afterword by M. Lobanov.] Moscow, 1966.
Razmyshleniia chitatelia: Stat’i. [Introductory article by L. Shubin.] Moscow, 1970.

REFERENCES

Gorky, M. “Perepiska s A. Platonovym.” In Literaturnoe nasledstvo, vol. 70. Moscow, 1964.
Fadeev, A. “Ob odnoi kulatskoi khronike.” Krasnaia nov’, 1931, nos. 5–6.
“O khoroshikh rasskazakh i redaktorskoi rutine” (editorial). Literaturnyi kritik, 1936, no. 8.
Ermilov, V. “Klevetnicheskii rasskaz Andreia Platonova.” Literaturnaia gazeta, Jan. 4, 1947.
Shubin, L. “Andrei Platonov.” Voprosy literatury, 1967, no. 6.
Kramov, I. “V poiskakh sushchnosti.” Novyi mir, 1969, no. 8.
Tvorchestvo A. Platonova: Stat’i i soobshcheniia. Voronezh, 1970.
Bocharov, S. “Veshchestvo sushchestvovaniia”: Vyrazhenie νproze. In the collection Problemy khudozhestvennoi formy sotsialisticheskogo realizma, vol. 2. Moscow, 1971.
Mitrakova, N. M. A. P. Platonov: Materialy k biobibliografii. Voronezh, 1969.
Russkie sovetskie pisateli-prozaiki: Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’, vol. 7, part 2. Moscow, 1972.

L. A. SHUBIN

References in periodicals archive ?
(15) For more on this theme and its relationship to the 1930s work of Andrei Platonov, see my article: Pavel Khazanov, "Honest Jacobins: High Stalinism and the Socialist Subjectivity of Mikhail Lifshitz and Andrei Platonov," Russian Review, no.
She discusses the cost of constructing Iurii Olesha's Envy; Marietta Shaginian and the changing Soviet author of Hydrocentral; Boris Pilniak, Mahogany and The Volga Falls to the Caspian Sea; Andrei Platonov and the end of the production novel; and other examples.
There is growing interest in Andrei Platonov's writing in the English-speaking world, especially thanks to translations by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, Angela Livingstone, and others, and a growing body of critical literature about this exceptional and significant author.
He does attempt to develop links with Russian writers (Gogol, Chekhov, Pilniak, Bely), but to no avail, except perhaps with Andrei Platonov, whose social background was similar to Bakin's.
Such a view recalls the assertion sometimes made of major Soviet writers (notably Mikhail Bulgakov and Andrei Platonov) that their works were more "universal" because they couldn't criticize Stalin directly, so they needed to enclose their subversive messages in allegorical or fantastic carapaces.
A Hundred Years of Andrei Platonov (first volume of Platonov special issue of Essays in Poetics, autumn 2001, volume 26).
La obra y la vida de estos dos escritores, como las de Osip Mandelstam, Isaak Babel, Boris Pilniak, Nikolai Kliuiev, Andrei Platonov y los mas de dos mil escritores y artistas reprimidos por el estalinismo, representan lo mas digno de la condicion humana ante los abusos del poder demente en el siglo que acaba de terminar.
Although he is a professor of comparative literature, only the second of the book's three chapters is on a literary subject - it is an extended reading of Andrei Platonov's novel Chevengur (1927-28) - while the first, treating two pairs of "Antinomies of Postmodernity," namely space and time, identity and difference, would be more likely to be judged philosophical; and the last deals primarily with architecture and urbanism.
The particular exhibit here is Andrei Platonov's recently discovered idea of a peasant utopia, discussed in an essay written in the late '20s.
"Kriticheskaia proza Andreia Platonova." In Andrei Platonov. Razmyshleniia chitalelia, edited by Shubin, 3-18.
The essays discuss writers well known in the West, such as Chekhov, Nabokov and Pasternak along with those not yet recognized outside Russia: Andrei Platonov, Yury Olesha, Isaak Babel, Abram Tertz, Vasili Shukshin, Varlan Shamalov, Tatiana Tolstaia, Lyudmila Petrushevskaia, Victor Erofeev,Andrei Bitov and Viktor Pelevin.
The central focus of the study falls on the work of Vladimir Solov'ev, Lev Shestov, Vasilii Rozanov, and Nikolai Berdiaev, with reflections on a prehistory in the works of Vissarion Belinskii and Nikolai Chernyshevskii and 'survival' in the works of Aleksei Losev, Andrei Platonov, and Boris Pasternak.