Russian communism

In search of utopia: Chevengur, by Andrey Platonov, reviewed

It has been a long journey into the light for the greatest Russian modernist most people have probably never heard of: Andrey Platonov. Born in 1899 in Voronezh, he started professional life as a mechanic and land-reclamation engineer, making him one of those rare writers with an affinity for both people and machines. In the mid-1920s, he was branded an ‘anarchic’ spirit by Maxim Gorky, who nevertheless admired his work. His great early novels were openly critical of the Soviet policy of ‘total collectivisation’ – which, in Platonov’s nightmare scenarios, tends to collectivise people to death. The best and longest, Chevengur – now available in a handsome translation, with an