Happy Moscow by Andrey Platonov
(New York Review of Books Classics)

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...proof that puzzles are often more intriguing to those who laboriously put them together than to those who, coming across them later, approach the reassembled image with something less than wonder.
-NY Times

Synopsis

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.
  
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.
 

About Andrey Platonov

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Andrey Platonovich Platonov (1899-1951) was the son of a railway worker. The eldest of eleven children, he began work at the age of thirteen, eventually becoming an engine driver's assistant. He began publishing poems and articles in 1918, while studying engineering. Throughout much of the Twenties Platonov worked as a land reclamation expert, draining swamps, digging wells, and also building three small power stations. Between 1927 and 1932 he wrote his most politically controversial works, some of them first published in the Soviet Union only in the late 1980s. Other stories were published but subjected to vicious criticism. Stalin is reputed to have written "scum" in the margin of the story "For Future Use," and to have said to Alexander Fadeyev (later Secretary of the Writers' Union), "Give him a good belting-for future use!" During the Thirties Platonov made several public confessions of error, but went on writing stories only marginally more acceptable to the authorities. His son was sent to the Gulag in 1938, aged fifteen; he was released three years later, only to die of the tuberculosis he had contracted there. From September 1942, after being recommended to the chief editor of Red Star by his friend Vasily Grossman, Platonov worked as a war correspondent and managed to publish several volumes of stories; after the war, however, he was again almost unable to publish. He died in 1951, of tuberculosis caught from his son. Happy Moscow, one of his finest short novels, was first published in 1991; a complete text of Soul was first published only in 1999; letters, notebook entries, and unfinished stories continue to appear. Robert chandler's translations of Sappho and Guillaume Apollinaire are published in the series "Everyman's Poetry." His translations from Russian include Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate, Leskov's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Aleksander Pushkin's Dubrovsky and The Captain's Daughter. Together with his wife, Elizabeth, and other colleagues he has co-translated numerous works by Andrey Platonov. One of these, Soul, was chosen in 2004 as "best translation of the year from a Slavonic language" by the AAT SEEL (the American Association of Teachers of Slavonic and East European Languages); it was also shortlisted for the 2005 Rossica Translation Prize and the Weidenfeld European Translation Prize. Robert Chandler's translation of Hamid Ismailov's The Railway won the AAT SEEL prize for 2007 and received a special commendation from the judges of the 2007 Rossica Translation Prize. Robert Chandler is the editor of Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida and Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov and the author of a biography of Alexander Pushkin. Elizabeth Chandler is a co-translator of Platonov's Soul and The Foundation Pit, of Grossman's Everything Flows and The Road, and of Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter.
 
Published November 1, 2001 by Harvill Press. 192 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, History. Fiction
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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Liesl Schillinger on Dec 28 2012

...proof that puzzles are often more intriguing to those who laboriously put them together than to those who, coming across them later, approach the reassembled image with something less than wonder.

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