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Soul: And Other Stories

par Andrey Platonov

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246485,055 (4.52)38
A New York Review Books Original 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.… (plus d'informations)
Récemment ajouté parbibliothèque privée, jncc, WilhelmCronje, ejmw, ForwardEarth, lpirritano, OrderMustBe, vive_livre, lochinb
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4 sur 4
One cannot go overboard in praise of this book. What short story collection can match its melding of time, place and the human heart? Dubliners. Maybe. What makes this book even more of a miracle is that it was written in Stalinist Russia. Platonov was no more political than was Joyce, but after reading his work Stalin sent the writer's son to a gulag where he contracted tuberculosis and died. This is perhaps the ultimate testament of the power of a true artist. ( )
  byebyelibrary | Oct 28, 2015 |
As I was reading The Fierce and Beautiful World, a collection of one novella and several short stories, it occurred to me that the novella, "Dzhan" (which means "soul"), must be the same as the one included in Soul and Other Stories. So I read the very insightful introduction to Soul and Other Stories by one of the translators, Robert Chandler, and learned that while they are the same, the version in TF&BW was a censored version that was published in the Khrushchev era, while Chandler had access to the full text of the novella and other stories. So I decided to read the later collection after I finished the first even though the majority of the stories in it, along with the novella, were ones I had read in the first collection.

Although I was impressed by Platonov the first time I read the stories, I was even more so the second time. I can't tell how much this was because they sank in more and how much because the translation was better and because Soul and Other Stories includes explanatory notes. Other than for the novella ("Dzhan," "Soul"), I didn't notice any dramatically different material in the stories but there were definitely noticeable differences between the censored version of "Dzhan" and the full version of "Soul" -- not only additional material in "Soul" and references to Stalin that had been deleted in "Dzhan" but also other graphic or disturbing material, even material that doesn't seem to be politically sensitive. For example, a young woman who is described in "Dzhan" as having "sad eyes" is described in "Soul" as having a horsey face with boils covered by makeup.

Platonov is a beautiful writer, with infinite compassion for the poor and the outcast; the bulk of "Soul" involves a group of people living in the desert who are so poor and starving all they have left is their souls. He explores how people struggle to find happiness and what that is. He is fascinated by technology -- railroads, especially, and electricity -- with some of his characters able to work with machinery by feeling it, and at the same time deeply observant of the natural world, including both plants and animals, and how we humans react to it. Without his saying anything overtly political, it is clear to the reader that Platonov puts the individual and his emotional needs first. The stories require and deserve close attention.

Platonov died young, and Vassily Grossman, one of my all-time favorite authors spoke at his funeral. They are very different writers, but both are superb.
5 voter rebeccanyc | Apr 13, 2011 |
a very dark short novel, until the end when the author had to make it pc for stalin. platonov catches the despair and lonliness of life very well ( )
  michaelbartley | Mar 28, 2010 |
Platonov's writing is saturated with a pleasing sadness and nostalgia. He is a master at characterizing not only humans but animals, plants and even inanimate objects. In his description of a college courtyard in the short story "Soul," patches of chance grass grow around "a solitary old apple tree that lived without any care or encouragement from human beings." Beyond the tree lay a stone, that must have weighed a couple of tons, though no one knows where it is from. And a lone iron wheel from a nineteenth century traction engine has sunk itself into the ground. Upon his graduation with honors, Nazar Chagateav, a friendless orphan, secretly says his goodbyes to these "dead objects." This scene is emblematic of Platonov's lonesome, highly intellectual characters who commune more with the natural world, the inanimate world and their own thoughts than with other humans. Platonov's highly realistic prose has an uncanny quality thanks to his ability to amplify and magnify the quiet, still moments of everyday life as well as the absurdity of the early Soviet era. He is an odd amalgam of Proust and Kafka. These are some of the best stories I've ever read, but they are for patient readers who are interested in more than just plot. ( )
2 voter rdebo13 | Dec 21, 2008 |
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Andrey Platonovauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionscalculé
Berger, JohnPostfaceauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Chandler, ElizabethTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Chandler, RobertIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Chandler, RobertTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Grigoruk, KatiaTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Livingstone, AngelaTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Meerson, OlgaTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Naiman, EricTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé

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A New York Review Books Original 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.

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