Soul by Andrey Platonov

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Synopsis

An epic story about the search for happiness, of longing to lead, yet needing to follow, and of learning about oneself.
 

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 April 7, 2003 by Harvill Press. 208 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Soul

Kirkus Reviews

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This is a lost treasure found: an allegorical masterpiece, written in 1935 (though unpublished in full until 1999), by one of the greatest modern Russian writers.

Jun 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Soul

The Guardian

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Life With an Idiot by Victor Erofeyev, translated by Andrew Reynolds 242pp, Penguin, £7.99 Soul by Andrey Platonov, translated by Robert Chandler et al 208pp, Harvill, £11.99 Life With an Idiot is a collection of stories full of complete idiots towards whom the reader feels no sympathy...

Jan 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Soul

The Guardian

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Soul by Andrey Platonov translated by Robert Chandler et al Harvill Press £11.99, pp61 At the end of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, the angelic Alyosha implores his young friends to embrace life.

Jun 01 2003 | Read Full Review of Soul

The New York Review of Books

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;

Dec 04 2007 | Read Full Review of Soul

Project MUSE

She is coauthor of Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics and has also written extensively on Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, the Russian critical tradition, and Russian music.

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