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Happy Moscow /
Andrey Platonov ; translated from the Russian by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Angela Livingstone, Nadya Bourova and Eric Naiman ; with an introduction by Eric Naiman.
imprint
London : Harvill, 2001.
description
xxxvii, 153 p. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
186046646X
format(s)
Book
Holdings
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2012-09-10:
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Guardian UK, August 2001
New York Times Book Review, December 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Moscow Chestnova is an everywoman fascinated by the brave new world supposedly taking shape around her. In a variety of styles, this novel exposes the gulf between the premature triumphalism and the low living standards of Stalinist Russia.
Main Description
Moscow in the 1930s is the consummate symbol of the Soviet paradise, a fairy-tale capital where, in Stalin's words, "life has become better, life has become merrier". In Happy Moscow Platonov exposes the gulf between this premature triumphalandshy;ism and the harsh reality of low living standards and even lower expectations. For in Stalin's ideal city there is no longer a place for those who do not fit the bright, shining image of the new men and women of the future. The heroine, Moscow Chestnova, is an Everywoman, both virgin and whore, who flits from man to man, fascinated by the brave new world supposedly taking shape around her. In a variety of styles ranging from the grotesque to the sentimental to the absurd, Platonov lays bare the ways in which language itself has been debased, even borrowing slogans from Stalin's own speeches for comic effect. In an age of spin doctors and soundbites, this anarchic satire has as much resonance as ever.
Main Description
"Platonov is an extraordinary writer, perhaps the most brilliant Russian writer of the twentieth century" Tatyana Tolstaya, "New York Review of Books A modern pilgrim's progress set in Soviet Russia Moscow Chestnova is an Everywoman fascinated by the brave new world supposedly taking shape around her. Moscow (the city) in the 1930s: a fairy-tale capital where, in Stalin's words, "life has become better, life has become merrier." But in this ideal city there is no longer a place for those who do not fit the bright, shining image of the men and women of the future. In a variety of styles ranging from the grotesque to the sentimental to the absurd, Platonov exposes the gulf between this premature triumphalism and the harsh reality of low living standards and even lower expectations, borrowing slogans from Stalin's speeches for comic effect. In an age of spin-doctors and soundbites this anarchic satire has as much resonance as ever.

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