8 July 2013, 19:55

Happy Moscow by Andrey Platonov and An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman

Photo: www.nybooks.com 

Photo: www.nybooks.com 

Photo: www.nybooks.com 

Download audio file

Vasily Grossman and Platonov are towering figures in XX century Russian literature. Born around 1900 they embraced the Russian Bolshevik Revolution yet came to reject and in their own ways resist Stalinism. Both authors served as war correspondents during WWII. They also suffered from censorship and were not able to publish most of their work during their life times. Yet as writers they were very different: Vasily Grossman, wrote in lucid, documentary-like style and is now most famous for his epic novel ‘Life and Fate’ which we covered on Russian BookWorld last year. 

Andrey Platonov on the other hand, wrote intricate, allegorical novels and short stories which explored the excitement and horror of a new society that was being built in the first decades of the Soviet Union. The Russian reader had to wait until the late 1980s when works by Grossman and Platonov finally started to become freely available. The English speaking reader was able to enjoy their writing thanks to the dedication of a London based poet, literary critic and translator Robert Chandler, who, in collaboration with his wife Elizabeth took on a formidable project of translating these two writers major works. On this programme we talk to Robert Chandler about “Happy Moscow” by Andrey Platonov and “An Armenian Sketchbook” by Vasily Grossman that were recently released by New York Review Books. These new releases show Grossman and Platonov at their most unusual and arguably their best as writers.

  •  
    and share via