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The Fierce and Beautiful World (NYRB Classics) [Paperback]

Andrei Platonov
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 May 2000 NYRB Classics
Platonov's fiction is that of a wanderer in an all-too-real Utopia, a devastated world that is both terrifying and sublime. This is a collection of 7 pieces of short fiction, including the harrowing and long-unavailable novella, "Dzahn".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: New York Review Books; New Ed edition (1 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940322331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940322332
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 12.6 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,411,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
NAZAR CHAGATAYEV, a young man, not a Russian, walked into the courtyard of the Moscow Institute of Economics. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Platonov is the finest Russian prose-writer of the last century, but this republication of a volume first published around 1970 is a disappointment. Firstly, the translation is mediocre; secondly, the short novel "Dzhan", the longest and greatest work in this volume, was translated from a heavily censored Soviet text. Many of the most striking, most unusual or most subversive passages of the original have been cut out.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
First, a caveat: This is the first Platonov I have ever read. Also, never having read the Russian original (no Russian :-<), I can't comment on Rob's views on the translation herein.
Given all that, I found Platonov's haunting prose a refreshing wind in a world lacking gutsy literature like this. The imagery is powerful, the insight humbling, the fears strangely familiar. Platonov's is a world of a gritty reality filled with the constant stench of misery and death. But what emerges from this sultry mist is a most enriching read. In meeting Platonov's mind, one gains a companion through life - I fear his thoughts will never leave me (and I hope they don't).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing volume of the work of a great writer 24 Jun 2000
By R. H. Chandler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Platonov is the finest Russian prose-writer of the last century, but this republication of a volume first published around 1970 is a disappointment. Firstly, the translation is mediocre; secondly, the short novel "Dzhan", the longest and greatest work in this volume, was translated from a heavily censored Soviet text. Many of the most striking, most unusual or most subversive passages of the original have been cut out.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommended this book! 20 Oct 2003
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Except Anton Chekhov, I have never read any book so subtlely investigating the human nature from the well-tailored short stories. The best one among them is "The Third Son", which was highly praised by Hemingway, exposed a highly dramatic scene and shaken my heart in its lowest and humblest sound. Platonov is among the best short stories writers almost as great as Chekhov. This is my bias that he was even better than James Joyce and Guy Maupassant because he never use too cynical, satirical or poignant attitude to his subject (even to the ugliest side of the human nature). He accept the "most" good and the "most" bad one too. Unlike Chekhov, he showed us the straightness and rustlessness of the Russians, his nation-people and the influence of Soviet Union on Russian culture. So he could deal with the essential problem of human beings in his era, under its own cultural atmosphere.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven Collection 11 April 2009
By dizzy dean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If I could give stars by the stories, I'd definitely give five to some (Homecoming, Potudan River and The Fierce and Beautiful World) and less or much less (Dzhan) to others. However, even in the lesser stories, Platonov's writing is able to shine through, be it in a description a simile/metaphor or simply in a turn of the phrase. The translation seems to capture this in English, though a better introduction of the content of each story might have been useful. Worth buying, especially if you have a taste for Russian literature.
3.0 out of 5 stars Fierce and beautiful Language 26 Aug 2012
By Carol's Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Platanov's book of stories includes seven tales ranging in length from seven to 114 pages. "Dzahn," the longest and the first in the book, is a dazzling display of imagery and empathy and is a must read for writers who have not yet tasted Platonov. In fact,if this review were written exclusively for writers, I would rate the book as a "five" simply for the learning opportunity. Dzahn's plot is subtle and often submerged in description. The story reminded me of eating a piece of rich cheesecake; one can only have a few bites before taking respite from the richness of his language and thought. It would likely disengage a genre devotee within a single page. Dzahn's finale makes it easy to imagine a Soviet censor finding the author's weak commitment to collectivization.

The shorter stories are more tightly conceived. Of these my favorites are "Homecoming," and the title piece, "The Fierce and Beautiful World." Most of the stories take common motifs and enrich them with the character's behavior and thought that in many (most?) other settings might feel unrealistic. Imagine the mail carrier Frosya, from "Fro," so overcome with her imagined loss of her husband because she hasn't received a letter for two weeks after he leaves for a new job in China, that she begins screaming while making her rounds. I know kids today that might do that if they don't get a tweet after a day or so, but this was the rural Soviet Union of the 1930's and 40's. And yet, the depth and sensitivity of Platonov's insight into Fro's search for happiness enables such behavior to withstand the scrutiny of a hardened cynic. His narrators and characters have a humanity and an empathic concern that surprises those of us who imagined the Soviet system as utterly dehumanizing.

Tatayana Tolstaya's Introduction (also translated), serves its purpose. For the newcomer to Platonov, it is a welcome opening to him and his world and well worth re-reading after finishing the book. At the end she offers an insight into the author that perhaps explains his sensitivity to the human condition. "Platonov wrote," she says of his youth, 'I know that I am one of the most insignificant people.... For you being a man is just a habit-- for me it is a joy, a holiday.' No wonder the Party was suspicious of his commitment to materialism.

Disclaimer: I cannot evaluate the translation by Joseph Barnes but even with Platanov's wildly creative and sometimes disjunctive, use of language and imagery, the text appears awkward in places.
5.0 out of 5 stars a distinctive voice, a timeless outlook 17 Nov 2007
By Patrican - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Platonov's "voice" is not quite like any other author's. The closest
I can think of is that of Juan Rulfo (Pedro Paramo). Platonov is not
despairing, nor is he accepting, nor is he indifferent. It is difficult
to articulate his outlook. It's maybe two steps beyond existential.
It might not matter, or maybe it matters; that's not significant.
Beauty is significant, and feelings are significant. Maybe the key
is patience? Certainly there is an impression of vast time, and vast
space. In my opinion, some of the stories in this book are sui generis,
an exciting peek into a completely original perception.
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