Once known only to a small circle of admirers in Russia and the West, Andrey Platonov (1899-1951) has emerged to assume his rightful place as one of the major Russian writers of the twentieth century. Set during a small Russian town during the forcible collectivization of agriculture, The Foundation Pit portrays a group of workmen and local bureaucrats engaged in digging the foundation pit for a grand building where all the town's will live happily and "in silence."
"Platonov's reputation as one of Russia's most important twentieth-century writers is confirmed by this new translation of his novel, The Foundation Pit. In a small town shortly after the revolution, workmen and low-level bureaucrats work on the foundation for an enormous building intended to house the entire town. They strive to finish it despite continual interruptions due to new and contradictory Communist Party requirements and assignments. Several of them get sent off to supervise collectivizing the surrounding region's agriculture and in the process destroying the kulaks or "rich peasants" (Platonov ruthlessly depicts how resentment underlay this purge of people whose only crime, often enough, was modest success). A brilliant satire of the Stalinist cultural revolution, the short novel also parodies the type of literature that was produced on command to glorify it, for Platonov essays a semiliterate, ironically folkish style that yet lets him give vent to melancholy asides. Platonov wrote this essential addition to twentieth-century world literature at a time when its discovery would have meant certain imprisonment and probable death, and he left it unpublished when he died in 1951. Its mere existence bespeaks a man of integrity and courage. ~--John Shreffler"
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Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Completed in 1930 but unpublished during his lifetime, Platonov's masterpiece, a scathing satire of the Soviet attempt to build a workers' utopia, gauges the vast human tragedy of Stalinism,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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved