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  • Published: 2 November 2023
  • ISBN: 9781446484982
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 592

Chevengur




The Soviet Don Quixote from one of the greatest 20th-century prose writers, author of The Fountain Pit and Soul. A celebrated masterpiece available in its full version in English for the first time.

'Platonov is an extraordinary writer, perhaps the most brilliant Russian writer of the twentieth century' New York Review of Books

The Soviet Don Quixote, Chevengur is now seen by many Russian writers as Russia's greatest novel of the last century. This is the first English version to convey its subtlety and depth.

Zakhar Pavlovich comes from a world of traditional crafts to work as a train mechanic, motivated by his belief in the transformative power of industry. His adopted son, Sasha Dvanov, embraces revolution, which will transform everything: the words we speak and the lives we live, souls and bodies, the soil underfoot and the sun overhead.

Seeking communism, Dvanov joins up with Stepan Kopionkin, a warrior for the cause whose steed is the fearsome cart horse Strength of the Proletariat. Together they cross the steppe, meeting counter-revolutionaries, desperados and visionaries of all kinds. At last they reach the isolated town of Chevengur. There communism is believed to have been achieved because everything that is not communism has been eliminated. And yet even in Chevengur the revolution recedes from sight.

Comic, ironic, grotesque, disturbingly poetic in its use of language and profoundly sorrowful, Chevengur is a revolutionary novel about revolutionary ardour and despair. Unpublished during Andrey Platonov’s life, it is now one of the most celebrated Russian novels, and the most ambitious and moving of Platonov’s recreations of a world undergoing revolutionary transformation.

'It was from the novel Chevengur that I learned to create "literary worlds". Platonov is a self-taught literary jeweller, a true believer who built dystopias. His love for his characters is instantly conveyed to readers' Andrey Kurkov

Translated by Robert Chandler and Elizabeth Chandler

  • Published: 2 November 2023
  • ISBN: 9781446484982
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 592

Praise for Chevengur

'The most exciting Russian writer to be rediscovered since the end of the Soviet Union'

Independent

I squint back on our century and I see six writers I think it will be remembered for. They are Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, William Faulkner, Andrey Platonov and Samuel Beckett.... They are summits in the literary landscape of our century ... What's more, they don't lose an inch of their status when compared to the giants of fiction from the previous century.

Joseph Brodsky

1929: Bolshevism on the brink of Stalinism. In this pivotal year, Andrey Platonov-poet, engineer, true believer wrestling with demons of unbelief-completed his massive lyrical novel Chevengur, where the suffering and violence of a Communist utopia are conveyed not through anger but through sadness, slow-motion pain, and linguistic bewilderment. The reincarnation of this masterwork in English, impeccably midwifed by the Chandlers and placed in context by Platonov's disciple Vladimir Sharov, restores a harrowing vision from inside the beast.

Caryl Emerson (Princeton University)

Like many of Platonov’s remarkable fictions...Chevengur offers contemporary readers a wholly imagined, often surprising and by turns terrifying and delightful world. It is one in which magic realism doesn’t predominate but which is invested by an otherworldly testimony about our dizzyingly unbelievable history, and brought to memorable life by a man who wasn’t afraid of telling all that he knew, believed and hoped.

Spectator

[Chevengur] is at once comic and rich in pathos: Platonov’s depictions of the long-suffering peasantry can veer toward the absurd...but he draws them in great detail, lending them gravity and humanity through measured prose and a bend toward realism.

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

A superb work of Soviet-era Russian literature in a welcome, well-annotated new translation.

Kirkus Starred Review

By turns picaresque, ethereal, tragic and poetic, Chevengur is without doubt one of the great 20th-century modernist parables. Taken together with Platonov’s other major novel, The Foundation Pit—also available in translation by the Chandlers—it firmly establishes the author alongside Vasily Grossman as one of the great Soviet writers.

Bryan Karetnyk, Financial Times

Platonov is not just a voice of his generation but a sage to our own, warning us that the flaws of human idealism are condemned to overshadow its realized visions.

Michael Barron, Washington Post

At nearly 100 years old, Andrey Platonov’s novel Chevengur is a tome of revolution and grief. What may at first encounter seem a Quixotian expedition across the central Russian steppe, quickly turns into a philosophical novel probing the deepest questions on Russia’s October revolution and the communist society that would follow it. Centered around the fictional city of Chevengur, located in Russia’s central steppe, Platonov’s novel offers a glimpse into what an open and enlightened philosophical debate might have looked like in the early days of the Soviet Union...with flashes of romance and much of the open steppe, the novel promises both the seasoned Russophile and the curious newcomer something unique on every page.

Jack McClelland, On the Seawall

Today, few books offer the level of insight into modern Russian history as Chevengur does, a 1929 novel by the Soviet writer Andrey Platonov, composed as the Bolsheviks established the Soviet Union and consolidated power.

The Atlantic

While it’s a commonplace to say a writer has a style all his own, no one quite resembles Platonov. He’s simultaneously a documentarian sharing a slideshow of the Soviet Union’s bloody history and a fabulist forging a prescient Russian version of magical realism. His touch is light. Without a conventional plot or character development, he leaves readers with vivid memories....More than translators, the Chandlers are in the business of literary reclamation. They previously translated Platonov’s The Foundation Pit, Soul and Happy Moscow, all of which have their roots in Chevengur. Without the Chandlers, English-speakers would probably know Vasily Grossman as a mere footnote to Russian literature, rather than the author of Life and Fate, one of the previous century’s supreme novels. Without the Chandlers, Platonov, too, might have remained an obscurity among Anglophone readers. Now we have Platonov and his finest novel, Chevengur, thanks to the Chandlers.

Wall Street Journal

Soviet author Platonov dramatised his ambivalence about communism in dream-like yet earthy narratives that have drawn admiration from writers as various as Penelope Fitzgerald and Nell Zink. Hailed as his masterpiece, Chevengur is a satirical picaresque novel that went unpublished in his lifetime.

Mail on Sunday

It is hard to believe that readers have had to wait so long for this outstanding new translation by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler… Chevengur is a sumpremely lyrical novel

Times Literary Supplement