The Soviet writer Andrey Platonov saw much of his work suppressed or censored in his lifetime. In recent decades, however, these lost works have reemerged, and the eerie poetry and poignant humanity of Platonov’s vision have become ever more clear. For Nadezhda Mandelstam and Joseph Brodsky, Platonov was the writer who most profoundly registered the spiritual shock of revolution. For a new generation of innovative post-Soviet Russian writers he figures as a daring explorer of word and world, the master of what has been called “alternative realism.” Depicting a devastated world that is both terrifying and sublime, Platonov is, without doubt, a universal writer who is as solitary and haunting as Kafka.
This volume gathers eight works that show Platonov at his tenderest, warmest, and subtlest. Among them are “The Return,” about an officer’s difficult homecoming at the end of World War II, described by Penelope Fitzgerald as one of “three great works of Russian literature of the millennium”; “The River Potudan,” a moving account of a troubled marriage; and the title novella, the extraordinary tale of a young man unexpectedly transformed by his return to his Asian birthplace, where he finds his people deprived not only of food and dwelling, but of memory and speech.
This prizewinning English translation is the first to be based on the newly available uncensored texts of Platonov’s short fiction.
In Soul, Platonov weaves together Sufi philosophy, Persian travelogue, socialist realism, and the language of Soviet bureaucracy into a magical tissue with the luminous, universal quality of myth. Soul is an unforgettably weird retelling of a familiar story: the struggle of an educated young man to assimilate his present with his past.
—Elif Batuman, The Daily Beast
Soul (New York Review Books) gathered eight works from another Slavic giant, Andrey Platonov. Works of great tenderness and insight in the face of oppression, they’re brilliantly rendered by one of the great translators of our time, Robert Chandler, and his team. It features a striking afterword by John Berger…
— The Guardian
Platonov is an extraordinary writer, perhaps the most brilliant Russian writer of the 20th century.
— Tatyana Tolstaya, The New York Review of Books
Soul, like all great works, proceeds out of experience and yearning….The yearning is so intense it glows through the language.
— George Szirtes