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Happy Moscow

par Andrey Platonov

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An NYRB Classics Original Moscow Chestnova is a bold and glamorous girl, a beautiful parachutist who grew up with the Revolution. As an orphan, she knew tough times--but things are changing now. Comrade Stalin has proclaimed that "Life has become better! Life has become merrier!" and Moscow herself is poised to join the Soviet elite. But her ambitions are thwarted when a freak accident propels her flaming from the sky. A new, stranger life begins. Moscow drifts from man to man, through dance halls, all-night diners, and laboratories in which the secret of immortality is actively being investigated, exploring the endless avenues and vacant spaces of the great city whose name she bears, looking for happiness, somewhere, still. nbsp;nbsp; Unpublishable during Platonov's lifetime, Happy Moscow first appeared in Russian only in 1991. This new edition contains not only a revised translation of Happy Moscow but several related works: a screenplay, a prescient essay about ecological catastrophe, and two short stories in which same characters reappear and the reader sees the mind of an extraordinary writer at work.… (plus d'informations)
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» Voir aussi les 23 mentions

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http://kaggsysbookishramblings.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/recent-reads-happy-mosco...

Wonderful book that gets under your skin, amazingly presented here by NYRB ( )
  kaggsy | Feb 1, 2013 |
The book Happy Moscow includes not just the title novella but also other works Platonov wrote in the mid-1930s: two short stories, an essay, and a screenplay. I previously read and admired Platonov's Soul and Other Stories and The Foundation Pit, considered his masterpiece, but found it very difficult to understand because of the almost random way the plot jumps around and because Platonov's writing is both allusive and symbolic. I had the same problems with these works, although the translators' notes were again extremely helpful.

The novella tells the story of an orphan who is named Moscow, a beautiful young woman who starts off her career as a parachutist, symbolic of the technological heights to which Soviet Russia hoped to soar. Later she works underground on the subway, again symbolic of technological accomplishments. At the same time, these activities and the activities of other characters, including a doctor who is hoping to find a way to essentially keep people from dying and an engineer who works to find a way to make perfect scales, are reflective of projects that were actually happening in Soviet Russia. From this bright start, looking towards the future, the characters' lives become increasingly restricted and sad, both with respect to love and with respect to profession. In the intervening chapters, Platonov portrays some of the realities of life in 1930s Moscow, including a large market in which new identities, as well as food and other goods, are for sale.

After reading the novella, I turned to the story "The Moscow Violin." Much to my surprise, large chunks of text from the novella were repeated in the story, or perhaps it was vice versa, as Platonov worked on both at the same time. I found the screenplay, "Father," perhaps the most interesting piece in the book. And, although the translator calls the essay, "On the First Socialist Tragedy," "one of the earliest and greatest of classic ecological texts, for me it was more of an essay about the conflict between the individual "soul" (which has a greater meaning to Platonov than our English word) and technological prowess.

One of the interesting things about Platonov, besides his language and style, is the way certain themes and images recur. As in both of the books I previously read, there is a strong thread of technology and engineering in this collection: how railroads work, electrical plants, underground systems, medical advances (or quackery), perfecting instruments. Platonov is fascinated by technological advances. There is also a strong thread of music, especially in these pieces the violin, which finds its way into almost all of them. And then there is love, and love triangles, and people puzzling over what love means. Other repeated images and themes include orphans, attempted and successful suicide, and sparrows. Finally, there is a character in the novella who tries to will his own death, much as characters longed for death in The Foundation Pit.

As must be clear, I really didn't know what to make of the pieces in this collection. I was eager to read them because of my admiration for Platonov's work, but for the most part I struggled to understand what Platonov was trying to say. Anyone interested in trying Platonov should not start with this collection!
9 voter rebeccanyc | Nov 22, 2012 |
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» Ajouter d'autres auteur(e)s (13 possibles)

Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Andrey Platonovauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionscalculé
Chandler, ElizabethTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Chandler, RobertTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Chandler, RobertIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Meerson, OlgaTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Platt, JonathanTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé

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Contains: Happy Moscow, The Moscow Violin, On the First Socialist Tragedy, Father, and Love for the Motherland.
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An NYRB Classics Original Moscow Chestnova is a bold and glamorous girl, a beautiful parachutist who grew up with the Revolution. As an orphan, she knew tough times--but things are changing now. Comrade Stalin has proclaimed that "Life has become better! Life has become merrier!" and Moscow herself is poised to join the Soviet elite. But her ambitions are thwarted when a freak accident propels her flaming from the sky. A new, stranger life begins. Moscow drifts from man to man, through dance halls, all-night diners, and laboratories in which the secret of immortality is actively being investigated, exploring the endless avenues and vacant spaces of the great city whose name she bears, looking for happiness, somewhere, still. nbsp;nbsp; Unpublishable during Platonov's lifetime, Happy Moscow first appeared in Russian only in 1991. This new edition contains not only a revised translation of Happy Moscow but several related works: a screenplay, a prescient essay about ecological catastrophe, and two short stories in which same characters reappear and the reader sees the mind of an extraordinary writer at work.

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