Happy Moscow

Andrey Platonov, Author, Robert Chandler, Translator, Elizabeth Chandler, Translator, Nadya Bourova, Translator
Andrey Platonov, trans. from the Russian by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, et al. New York Review Books, $14.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-59017-585-9
Paperback - 153 pages - 978-1-84655-342-4
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Written in the 1930s (but never completed) and finally published in Russian in 1991—40 years after Platonov’s death—this fresco of 1930s Moscow revolves around the eponymously named Moscow Chestnova, whose enthusiasm for the Communist cause wanes with her fall from rising aeronautical star to bitter amputee. Like the revolution, the once optimistic Moscow loses her zeal and descends into cynicism. Men continue to dote on her, but she remains a cypher, a symbol of accelerated decrepitude. Platonov’s dense, allegorical style is well suited to the frenzy of the early years of the socialist experiment, portrayed here by ebullient descriptions of the work-filled lives of Muscovites and scenes of desolation and tedium amid a whirl of secondary characters striving vainly after utopian ideals. Two short stories, an essay, and a play follow this gritty, dystopian novel, pursuing some of Platonov’s (The Foundation Pit) themes, namely that “history as a universal tragedy began along with mankind, but it is technology that serves as its final act.” Agent: Vladimir Popov, FTM Agency (Moscow). (Nov.)
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