TRANSLATED BY ROBERT AND ELIZABETH CHANDLER AND OLGA MEERSON
Platonov's dystopian novel describes the lives of a group of Soviet workers who believe they are laying the foundations for a radiant future. As they work harder and dig deeper, their optimism turns to violence and it becomes clear that what is being dug is not a foundation pit but an immense grave.
This new translation, by Robert & Elizabeth Chandler and Olga Meerson, is based on the definitive edition recently published by Pushkin House in Leningrad. All previous translations were done from a seriously bowdlerized text. Robert Chandler is also the translator of Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate. The American scholar Olga Meerson has written extensively on Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Platonov and many other Russian authors.
Andrey Platonov is the most exciting Russian writer to be rediscovered since the end of the Soviet Union. Born in 1899, one of a railway worker's 10 children, he was an engineer, a party member and a model proletarian writer before doubts about Communism, and his literary imagination, landed him in trouble with Stalin. His work stopped being published in the early 1930s and only resurfaced 40 years after his death in 1951...The Foundation Pit will stand out as his masterpiece
Platonov managed to make the miseries of forced industrialization into a story as gripping as anything in Dickens, as moving and as artful
Andrey Platonov's absurdist parable The Foundation Pit is a masterly achievement...Much of the genius of The Foundation Pit lies in Platonov's objective style and the lively invariably abusive dialogue, contrasting with oddly moving, isolated asides of brittle beauty. It is a Russian Waiting for Godot crossed with Lewis Carroll and Maxim Gorky - there is even a bear working as an apprentice blacksmith, frantically making horseshoes as if there were no tomorrow. And in this book, there isn't. According to the late Joseph Brodsky, Platonov 'simply had a tendency to see his words to their logical - that is absurd, that is totally paralyzing end. In other words, like no other Russian writer before or after him Platonov was able to reveal a self destructive, eschatological element within the language itself.' The Foundation Pit is extraordinary: strange, almost abrupt, a hallucinatory, nightmarish parable of hysterical laughter and terrifying silences
The Chandlers have brilliantly dealt with the challenges of rendering into readable English the extraordinary quality of Platonov's prose... Overall it is hard to see how we could get a better English version of Platonov's prose-nor one more likely to win him the readers he deserves
He has been described as the greatest Russian writer of the 20th century, but some of his most controversial works, written between 1927 and 1932, were not published in the Soviet Union until the 1980s. Platonov's The Foundation Pit is a satirical response to Stalin's programme of crash industrialisation and collectivisation