Andrei Platonov

Andrei Platonov

Andrei Platonov (1899-1951) was the pen name of Andrei Platonovich Klimentov, a Soviet Russian writer, playwright, and poet, whose works anticipate existentialism. Although Platonov was a Communist, most of his works were banned in his own lifetime for their skeptical attitude toward collectivization and other Stalinist policies, as well as for its experimental, avant-garde form. His famous works include the novels The Foundation Pit (Котлован) and Chevengur (ru) (Чевенгур).

He was born in the settlement of Yamskaia Sloboda on the outskirts of Voronezh in the Chernozem region of central Russia. His father was a metal fitter (and amateur inventor) employed in the railroad workshops and his mother was the daughter of a watchmaker. He attended a local parish school and completed his primary education at a four-year city school and began work at age thirteen, with such jobs as office clerk at a local insurance company, smelter at a pipe factory, assistant machinist, warehouseman, and on the railroad. Following the 1917 revolutions, he studied electrical technology at the Voronezh Polytechnic Institute. When civil war broke out he assisted his father on trains delivering troops and supplies and clearing snow.

Stalin held deeply ambivalent views regarding Platonov's worth. According to archival evidence Stalin called Platonov "fool, idiot, scoundrel", but later in the same meeting called him "a prophet, a genius." For his part Platonov made hostile remarks about Trotsky, Rykov, and Bukharin but not about Stalin, to whom he wrote letters on several occasions. By 1931, his work had come under sustained attack as anti-communist. Nevertheless, Platonov had published no fewer than eight volumes of fiction and essays from 1937 until his death in 1951. In the Stalinist Great Purge of the 1930s, Platonov's son was arrested as a "terrorist" and "spy". He was exiled, at the age of fifteen, to a labor camp where he contracted tuberculosis. When Platonov's son was released home he was terminally ill with tuberculosis. Platonov himself contracted the disease while nursing him. During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), Platonov served as a war correspondent, but his disease grew worse, and after the war, he ceased to write fiction. His last publications were two collections of folklore. He died in 1951.

Selections. Stories and Novels. Volume 1
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Selections. Stories and Novels. Volume 1

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