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ISBN: 9781681377681
Format: Paperback
Publisher: New York Review of Books, Incorporated, The
Origin: US
Release Date: January, 2024

Book Details

A sort of Soviet Don Quixote , this novel about a craftsman who wanders around the U.S.S.R. hoping to ease human misery with his inventions is considered one of the most important novels of the Soviet era, and is now available in its full version in English for the first time. Chevengur is a philosophical novel that is also rich in psychological, social, and sensuous detail. Although it was never publishable in the USSR, it now stands as one of the most celebrated of Soviet novels, and along with The Foundation Pit, it is the most ambitious and moving of Andrey Platonov’s efforts to take the measure of a world undergoing revolutionary transformation. The full text of Chevengur is here translated into English for the first time by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, whose versions of Platonov and Vasily Grossman have made these towering masters of modern literature accessible to readers of English. Platonov’s world is a world of orphans searching for family and home. The Russian people have lost both their Mother Earth and their Father in Heaven. Nothing is left to them but the horizon–a shining but ever-receding future. Thus in part one of the novel Zakhar Pavlovich, a gifted craftsman, moves from traditional village life to the world of industry. He falls in love with steam locomotives; he wishes to harness the power of machines to bring an end to human misery, and yet before long he is disillusioned. In the second part of the book it falls on his adopted son, Sasha Dvanov, to set out across the steppes in pursuit of revolution with, as his companion, Kopionkin, knight errant of the martyred revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. Perhaps communism will be born spontaneously of human yearning? The last part of the book finds a group of impatient Bolsheviks who live in the fictional town of Chevengur attempting to make communism happen now. They liquidate the bourgeoisie and the half-bourgeoisie, believing that this will inevitably bring about communism, since nothing else will remain. They relocate all the buildings, so that property will become worn out and cease to oppress the proletariat. Finally, Sasha Dvanov arrives in Chevengur as a herald of communism with a human face–and for the briefest moment it bears one.