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Andrei Platonov and the "Living Dialectic" of the "Pushkinian Person".

In recent years, a fair amount has been written about Andrei Platonov's collaboration with Georg Lukacs, Mikhail Lifshitz, and the other contributors to Literary Critic and members of the Current discussion group. (1) It was an unlikely encounter between two of the twentieth-century's most important Marxist aestheticians--one of them long famous to the world and the other only now being "rediscovered'--and the working-class artist who may rightly be called the greatest Marxist prose writer born of the Russian Revolution. The circumstances of this collaboration add further dramatic resonance. These three thinkers engaged in a public literary-critical polemic with leading representatives of the Soviet literary establishment, including Valery Kirpotin and Vladimir Ermdov. (2) Meanwhile, the "anti-party group, Literary Critic" was targeted by Kirpotin and Aleksandr Fadeev in a secret denunciation addressed to Iosif Stalin, Andrei Zhdanov, and other members of the Central Committee of the Ail-Union Communist Party during the height of the Stalinist Terror. (3) The heated debates between the two groups concerned Socialist Realism, "popular spirit" (narodrvost'), humanism, positive character types, optimism, aestheticism, and their place in Soviet literature. The Pushkin jubilee of 1937 made the poet's legacy a key front in these polemic battles. (4) It was in this context that, Platonov published two lengthy articles on Pushkin, "Pushkin Is Our Comrade" and "Pushkin and Gorky," in the January and June 1937 issues of Literary Critic. (5)

Platonov's contributions to this intellectual "current" were diverse in nature. In addition to taking part in the group's discussion circle, he published short fiction, literary criticism, reviews of Russian, Soviet, and foreign literature, and polemical articles in Literary Critic (as well as other journals and newspapers like Literary Review and Literary Gazette) between 1936 and 1940. As Ermilov put it in "On the Harmful Views of Literary Critic." his 1939 polemical assault on the journal, Platonov was an "'artist-critic' in the literal sense." (6) Though Ermilov hardly intended it, this hybrid Russian construction points to the category-defying nature of Platonov's literary-critical essays from this period. Neither entirely rigorous literary scholarship nor pure artistic creation, they incorporate elements of both while constituting something at once more and less than either taken separately. In 1938, Platonov's considerable stature as a Soviet critic in this period earned him a contract with Soviet Writer to publish a collection of his critical articles and reviews under the "modest" title of Meditations of a Reader1 In August of 1939, the publisher had already begun printing the book when the mounting campaign against Literary Critic put a halt to the release. In September, Platonov was informed that "Pushkin and Gorky" would be removed from the book, and the articles on Pushkin were given special negative attention in Ermilov's article attacking Literary Critic's "harmful views." The collection was shelved indefinitely in 1940 after a negative internal review by none other than Kirpotin, then the director of the criticism section of the Soviet Writers Union. (8)

Apart from criticism, Platonov published some of his finest mature prose in Literary Critic, including the short stories "Immortality'" and "Fro" (no. 8, 1936). As Kirpotin and Ermilov's denunciation notes, the journal "made Platonov their banner" and "points to him as a model" for other Soviet writers. (9) Following Gorky's death in 1936, these humanistically disposed leftist thinkers saw an opportunity to debate some of the defining feat ures of Socialist Realism and sought to put forward their own theoretically refined aesthetics and Platonov's masterful socialist fiction as the new standards for Soviet art. (10) In his 1937 article "Emmanuil Levin," to this day, one of the most insightful works of scholarship on Platonov, Lukacs illustrates this new ideal on the basis of Platonov's "Immortality." He counterposes the story's protagonist to the "ready-made" heroes of other Soviet fiction, with their "abstract, but, at the same time, completely defined, 'pure,' 'socialist' traits." (11) By contrast, Platonov manages to "show the complex process of the new person's coming into being, full as it is of contradictions, truthfully and in vital relation with real life." (12) This transformation is "made manifest in a complicated dialectic," in which the "process of labor... is organically correlated with the blossoming of the personality" and the "living interaction between a person's virtues and mistakes" is depicted such that the two emerge from one another and from the "principal problems of the contemporary day." (13) In the years that followed. Platonov's story- and Lukacs' article, along with Platonov's pieces on Pushkin, would become key texts in the increasingly high-stakes polemic that eventually culminated in a party decree closing Literary Critic. (14)

The Pushkin jubilee celebrations and public debates of 1937 evoked in Platonov a concentrated intellectual and creative engagement with the poet and his legacy in the Soviet 1930s. Platonov's primary orientation, however, was toward the poet's reception among and relevance to ordinary Soviet people. His major prose work from this period, the lost novels Journey from Leningrad to Moscow, was conceived as a recreation of Aleksandr Radishchev's Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow (1790) and Pushkin's unfinished inversion of Radishchev's trip, Journey from Moscow to Petersburg. (15) In February 1937, having just published "Pushkin Is Our Comrade" in the January issue of Literary Critic, Platonov undertook to travel by post horse to Moscow, where a plenary session of writers dedicated to the one-hundred-year anniversary of Pushkin's death was to take place. (16)

True to the spirit of his literary predecessors, Platonov's thoughts were not on the forthcoming celebrations but on the real conditions of life outside the Soviet capitals, on the poverty and suffering that he encountered at the stops along the way, and on the remarkable capacity of the people he met to endure in these conditions. Characteristic of the entries in his writer's notebook from the trip are the observations: "My people, all of them, poor and dear to me. Why is it that the poorer you are, the kinder you are[?]," "How simple, trusting, undemanding, and enduring the people are here--and the children are angels, too," and "They got unaccustomed to eating back in 1921, and to this day they haven't gotten used to it: they eat little." (17) Platonov writes of Pushkin in "Pushkin Is Our Comrade" that the "poet clearly sensed that the main road of history started somewhere off to the side." (18) For Platonov, it was only on the periphery, between the centers of power, among the impoverished, working people, that Pushkin's true significance with respect to the historical development of socialism could be properly appreciated. Platonov's Pushkin was the Pushkin of The. Tales of Belkin, the "'rabble,' the petty civil servants, postal station supervisors, commandants of forgotten fortresses, peasants, Pugachev's rebels, roadside blacksmiths and mechanics, dispossessed young women." (19) "Pushkin and Gorky," a significantly longer article that appeared in June, is crowded with such figures--the "Pushkinian person," in Platonov's terms. According to Platonov's understanding of history, it was only in their faces, in their suffering, and in their inspired labor that Pushkin's image was to be sought.

"Pushkin Is Our Comrade" begins with a meditation on working people, their respect for the intellectual labor of literature founded in their own experience of physical labor, and a radical equation of the creative activity of the poet and the Stakhanovite. Pugachev's rebellion, the Decembrist uprising, and the laborer's slow, careful, oral reading of Pushkin's verse are plotted on the same historical trajectory, the Utopian telos of which is the universalizai ion of Pushkin's inspired, creative activity under socialism. (20) Platonov's reflections on Pushkin's sober appraisal of the revolutionary potential of Pugachev and the Decembrists (and his apology for Pushkin's non-participation in the events of 1825) resonate strongly with Lifshitz's interpretation of the "humane resignation" that Vissarion Belinsky attributed to the poet. (21) The Current group had launched a concerted campaign to debunk the two-dimensional image of Pushkin as an irrepressible optimist with a boundless joie de vivre, which was being crafted in the Soviet press. (22) In Lifshitz's "Notes on Pushkin's Optimism," a chapter from his unpublished book on the poet, he argues that Pushkin's value for Soviet readers consists not in his "limitless love for life" or his "hasty optimism," but in his ability "to suffer deeply from the dissonances and contradictions of life" and his "deep faith in historical movement, in the future of his people." (23) Likewise, Platonov's Pushkin articles represent an attempt to produce a genuine image of artistic inspiration and political enthusiasm, or, to use Platonov's preferred term for both, voodushevlenie, literally, "en-spirit-ment." For Platonov, voodushevlenie involves a proper, dialectically negative orientation toward the suffering of the world but still provides the impetus to ethically grounded creative labor.

Central to Platonov's defense of Pushkin's ambivalent attitude toward Russia's revolutionary history is the critic's reading of The Bronze Horsemen. Platonov places the world-transforming creative activity of the enlightened autocrat, Peter the First, and Evgeny's simple, suffering love--the "the sphere of activity accessible to every pauper but inaccessible to the Ubermensch"--on equal footing. (24) Evgeny's social position limited his capacity for creative expression and political activity to his love for Parasha, but without him, Platonov argues, Peter I would transform the whole world into bronze and the Admiralty Spire into a "candlestick by the coffin of the dead (or destroyed) poetic human soul." (25)

The contemporary reader would be right in detecting here a warning against the excesses of Stalin's demiurgic creative impulse, but so too would she be justified in perceiving a homage to the leader in the lines: "Peter's work has only started, and is far from complete" and "[Pushkin,] who dreamed about the repetition of the advent of Peter, the builder-wonderworker'--what would he feel now? ..." (26) Indeed, the first draft of the article ended with Platonov's account of having witnessed a schoolchild reciting Pushkin's "Bacchic Song" from memory with the following, misre membered final line: "Long live Stalin, let darkness hide." (27) We should be wary of attributing these Stalinist sentiments to political necessity alone, especially in light of Platonov's article "Overcoming Villainy," which, published in the same month, called the "destruction of the ... villains" Karl Radek and Georgy Piatakov in Stalin's show trial a "natural matter of life." (28) That said, in making sense of Platonov's evocation of the figure of Stalin, we would do well to heed Platonov's own guidance for interpreting Pushkin's complex representation of the relation between autocrat and imperial subject. According to Platonov, we would be wrong in taking Pushkin's praise of Peter at face value. Rather, we must appreciate that "Pushkin resolved the true themes of The Bronze Horseman ... not logically, by means of plot, but by bringing in a 'second meaning; where the resolution is achieved not through the characters' actions, but through the whole music, the organization of the work--the additional force that creates in the reader an image of the author as the main hero of the work." (29) What matters to Platonov is that Pushkin's art, and the profound, nuanced historical perception that is encapsulated in it, was being universalized as "the source of worldwide socialist inspiration." (30)

Introduced in "Pushkin Is Our Comrade," the theme of the slow, painful process through which ordinary people were beginning to partake in the Pushkinian tropes of inspiration and prophecy becomes the core axis of "Pushkin and Gorky." Platonov reinterprets these key aspects of Pushkin's poetic mythology in dialectical materialist terms, as a "living, rational feeling," which, born of the laboring people's everyday confrontation with reality, attunes them to ongoing historical processes and guides them in the transformative labor by which they bend them to their will. (31) Platonov writes: "[A]s a means of overcoming one's own historical fate and as the happiness of existence, great poet ry' and the life development of a person can be nourished only from the wellspring of reality, from the praxis of the close, laborious perception of the world--this is the answer to the riddle of the popular origins of true art." (32) This "laborious perception of the world" implies not only physical labor but real poverty and human suffering, the "[s]ocial oppression and individual, often deadly fate" which "force people to look for and find an escape from their dire circumstances." (33) These circumstances, coupled with "[a]ctive human imagination," provide the people with everything they need to reach their goal: "poetry, politics, a capacity for the extended endurance of suffering, and outright revolution." (34)

In a rather unusual twist, Pushkin chooses Tatiana Larina as the archetypical Pushkinian "poor person," who, alongside "the enserfed slave, the urban commoner, the low-ranking government, clerk, the dispossessed woman," finds the "strength for her happiness and salvation in her own life development, assimilating every misfortune, in the natural mystery of her heart, in her womanly feeling, which faithfully protects another person and guards and has preserved the entirety of enraged humanity." (35) "Pushkin and Gorky" can hardly be regarded as a work of feminist criticism, but, there is a strong undercurrent of observations about women--Tatiana and her nanny, Pushkin and his "'professional' comrade," Arina Rodionovna, Pavel Vlasov and his mother, Pelegeia Nilovna, from Gorky's Mother, and Gorky's own relationship with his grandmother--which brings Platonov to "the well-known idea that women are probably more important people than men, more valuable, in essence, and not just because they can give birth to children." (36)

More persuasive and more central to Platonov's understanding of Pushkin is the notion (inspired by or at least consonant with Lifshitz's thinking) that, in rare cases, someone like Tatiana and. by extension, Pushkin, can overcome their social standing. Thus, they are able to individualize the suffering wrought by the contradictions of their society and transform it into inspired "feeling" capable of giving expression, solace, strength, and a heightened aesthetic sensibility to the people. Platonov channels the romantic myth of the poet as the voice of the silent Russian people, emphasizing that this lyrical expression of folk consciousness is made possible because the "prophet himself [...] is [...] a tormented person, one tormented, to be sure, by a special torment." (37) Platonov, however, inverts the romantic hierarchy of creative agency, designating Pushkin as "the collective creation of the people, quantity transformed with great difficulty into quality." (38)

The central Pushkin text in "Pushkin and Gorky" is "The Prophet," and it is in relation to this poem that Platonov most clearly articulates his understanding of the poet's legacy under socialism. Now, the prophet's '"coal, ablaze with flame' is lit not inside the single, solitary heart of a person, the 'coal' is lit throughout the entire world. Maybe it is collected from every soul like little burning wood chips and combined together into a single, concentrated, terrible fire." (39) According to Platonov, what was once the "living, rational feeling" of a single extraordinary individual was then becoming the "the soul, feeling, affection of the heart, and thought" of millions. (40) At the same time, Platonov remains convinced that "one cannon is still stronger than many thousands of fists" and that only a "single, redhot coal," not a dispersed totality of burning splinters, can express true self-awareness.

Raised in the final pages of "Pushkin Is Our Comrade," the question of Pushkin's potential socialist reincarnation, and Maksim Gorky's claim to the title, emerges as a central inquiry of "Pushkin and Gorky." The second article is shot through with the apparent contradiction bet ween Platonov's identification of the masses of Soviet workers as the true heirs to Pushkin's creative legacy and his case for recognizing Lenin (and, by implicit extension, Stalin) and Gorky as the poet's political and artistic successors. A consequence of the latter ambition is that "Pushkin and Gorky" is rife with dubious ruminations about the various faults of all major Russian writers since Pushkin vis-a-vis their teacher. Indeed, at times, the reader may almost sympathize with Ermilov's characterization of Platonov's reflections on the canon of post-Pushkinian writers as "homegrown" and "vulgar, gloomy delirium." (41) One senses that, in "Pushkin and Gorky," the atmosphere and pathos-inflected discourse of the 1937 jubilee penetrates deeper into Platonov's authorial voice, if only as one intonational strain in the sfeae-style organizational "music" in which we must attempt to discern the image of the "artist-critic." To some degree, we may attribute the stylistic and compositional unevenness of the article to Platonov's popular orientation. As Platonov scholar Lev Shubin notes of the Meditations of a Reader project as a whole, Platonov "strove to talk about other authors' books not as a professional critic, but simply as a reader." (42) Added to this is the consideration that Platonov understood well the discursive environment of his readers, both among the people and from the Party, and he likely made efforts to reach the former whde appeasing the latter.

More than an "artist-critic," Platonov was a philosopher in his own right, and if we are to appreciate his standing alongside such leading dialectical thinkers as Lifshitz and Lukacs, we must first appreciate the deep-seated populism and orientation toward real-life praxis which shape his thinking. Scholarship on Platonov's collaboration with Literary Critic tends to exaggerate the influence of these philosophers on Platonov, with one scholar going so far as to characterize Platonov's critical articles as "translators of the ideas and positions of the Curren t." (43) For Platonov, Lifshitz's and Lukacs's Hegelian rigor undoubtedly made for an intellectually stimulating encounter, but it would be more accurate to characterize the relation between these philosophers, as Pavel Khazanov does in his new article on Platonov and Lishitz, as a "convergent intellectual trajectory." (44)

The tragic but productive dialectical negativity which aligns Platonov with Lifshitz and Lukacs has become the object of some of the best Platonov scholarship of recent, years. (45) This negative component of Platonov's worldview may be traced to his first-hand experience of real human suffering and the socialist labor that was conceived to alleviat e it during the first years of the revolution. In 1921, Platonov's native Voronezh region was plagued by intense famine, and this encounter with mass starvation made such a strong impression on him that, as he put, it, "being a technician, [he] could no longer occupy himself with the contemplative activity of literature." (46) Instead, he decided to devote himself to the praxis of productive labor, motivated and sustained by the decidedly negative affects that these events evoked. "Despair, torment and death," he tells us in his 1921 article "Life to the End," are the "true origins of heroic human activity and the engines of history. We must suffer, die by the millions, fall from inexhaustible love in order to attain the ability to work." (47) In the "absence of real life on earth," Platonov argues, "much dynamite has accumulated in the soul," a force which manifests itself at night in dreams as a "dark," "unvoiced" excess which does not "require expression" or "an organizing ... ideology." (48) Such was the inexpressible, semiconscious, dialectical potential of the common laborer according to the young Platonov.

In the following years, Platonov worked as a land reclamation engineer, overseeing massive irrigation and electrification projects throughout the province, including a hydroelectric dam to be built on the Don River. (49) It was on the basis of this experience that he developed his dialectical understanding of human labor and history. In his 1925 speech, "The Method of Public Works," delivered to meetings of "public land-irrigation" workers in Saratov and Rostov, Platonov delineates two approaches to practice, the "formal-logical" one and the "dialectical" one. (50) Given the conditions on the ground--unqualified, undisciplined, temporary workers, extreme shortages of equipment and raw material, and pressing, unrealistic deadlines--these projects were "absurd" from the "formal-logical" perspective. (51) Faced with these obstacles, Platonov was left to find another approach "in the living dialectic: by covering and filling all losses and inconsistencies in the principles of the work with the living strength and energy of people and their organizational-technical know-how." (52) This dialectical approach was an attempt to "overcome, to overpower the most difficult [and] contradictory principles of work with a living, energetic, intellectual force." a "living principle" that Platonov likens to Lenin's "ability to foresee the conditions of the coming day." (53)

It is easy to see the relation between this "living dialectic" and the inexpressible "living, rational feeling" which Platonov identifies in the Pushkin essays as the source of the "inspired, creative activity" and prophetic vision of the people. It is this popular, praxis-oriented ethic of Platonov's "living dialectic" which best distinguishes him from the more scholastic Lifshitz. Lifshitz's dialectic is, by and large, a self-avowedly aristocratic one in which, to borrow Khazanov's apt phrase, only "a 'world-historical personality' on the level of Hegel and Pushkin" can partake. (54) According to Lifshitz, classic artists of Pushkin's stature occupy a privileged position at the end of a golden age or Kuiistperiode. Only from such a vantage point can one truly appreciate both the contradictions of one's dying society and the false promises of the modernity to come.55 As Jonathan Piatt explains, it is the "unique position" that Lifshitz refers to as the shekel'--a sort of dialectical "crack"--which "allows the classic to capture the totality and truth of his time." (56)

For Platonov, this shekel' goes all the way down to the "poor person." As an illustration of this distinction, we may consider Lifshitz's judgment that, even though "Pushkin's verses have all played a role in enlightening people ... one does not make a golden watch to hammer nails." (57) Platonov, by contrast, muses about t he poetry of the Stakhanovites and whether or not Pushkin himself understood that, the future socialist laborer would "turn into poetry even the work of the jackhammer or the locomotive's rush." (58) From Platonov's perspective, the totality of these independently working jackhammers, each guided by the "living, rational feeling" of ordinary "poor people" and orchestrated musically to create the world-historical force of socialism, constitutes a beauty of a higher order than the verse masterpieces of a single poet like Pushkin. What was conceived abstractly by Hegel and, according to Lifshitz, made apparent only to Pushkin's aristocratic sensibility in his unique historical position, becomes immanently palpable in the life experience of ordinary workers through their creative activity and the resulting perception of the non-correspondence between reality and ideal. This is what Platonov means when he says that Pushkin's flaming heart was scattered again in the form of flaming splinters throughout the mdlions of hearts of the laboring masses. Platonov cedes that "one cannon is stdl stronger than many thousands of fists" and that, as of yet, each individual flaming splinter is still modest in comparison to the burning flame of the great poet. Taken together, however, these flames are stdl equal to the whole, and the transfer of this flame to the people during the period of socialist construction points to the potential for such a totalizing individual perspective as Pushkin's to emerge again under the conditions of true communism. This, in Platonov's view, was Pushkin's significance in 1937.

Williams College


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Duzhina, Natal'ia. '"Postoiannye ideaiy Andreia Platonova vo vtoroi polovine 1930-kh gg." In "Strana filosofov" Andreia Platonova: Problemy tvorchestva, edited by N. V. Kornienko, 5: 35-46. Moscow: Nasledie, 2003.

Galushkin, Aleksandr. "Andrei Platonov. I. V. Stalin--Literaturnyi kritik." In "Strana filosofov" Andreia Platonova: Problemy tvorchestva. edited by N. V. Kornienko, 4: 815-26. Moscow: Nasledie. 2000.

"Iz clokladnoi zapiski sekretarei SSP SSSR A. A. Fadeeva i V. Ia. Kirpotina sekretariam TsK VKP(b) 'Ob antipartiinoi gruppirovke v sovetskoi kritike." In Vlast' i khudozhestvennaia intelligentsia: Dokumenty TsK RKP(b)--VKP(b), VChK OGPU--NKVD o kul'tumoi politike, 1917-1953, edited by Andrei Artizov and Oleg Naumov, 439-44. Moscow: Demokratiia, 1999.

Kornienko, N. V. "Istoriia teksta i biografiia A. P. Platonova (1926-1946)." Zdes'i teper', no. 1 (1993): 150-70.

--. "Povestvovatel'naia strategiia Platonova v svete tekstologii." In "Strana filosofov" Andreia Platonova: Problemy tvorchestva, edited by Kornienko, 2: 312-35. Moscow: Nasledie, 1995.

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--. "Pushkin--nash tovarishch." Literaturnyi kritik, no. 1 (1937): 46-61.

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(1) Natal'ia Poltavtseva was among the first twenty-first--century scholars to return to this fruitful period of collaboration between the three thinkers: Natal'ia Poltavtseva, "The Husserlian, the Cosmist and the Pushkinian in Platonov," Essays in Poetics 27: 2 (2002): 97-113; Poltavtseva, "Platonov i Lukach: Iz istorii sovetskogo iskusstva 1930--kh godov," Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 107: 1 (2011): 253-70. Jonathan Piatt devotes an entire chapter to Lifthitz's and Platonov's scholarship on Pushkin in his recent book on the Pushkin jubilee: Jonathan Brooks Piatt, Greetings, Pushkin! Stalinist Cultural Politics and the Russian National Bard (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). Pavel Khazanov's article offers an illuminating new reading of Platonov's Happy Moscow in light of Lifshitz and Platonov's intellectual exchange during this period: Pavel Khazanov, "Honest Jacobins: High Stalinism and the Socialist Subjectivity of Mikhail Lifshitz and Andrei Platonov," The Russian Review 77: 4 (2018): 2-27."

(2) Piatt, Greetings, Pushkin!, 156.

(3) "Iz dokladnoi zapiski sekretarei SSP SSSR A. A. Fadeeva i V. Ia. Kirpotin a sekretariam TsK VKP(b) 'Ob antipartiinoi gruppirovke v sovetskoi kritike,"' in \dast' i khudozhestvennaia intelligentsiia: Dokumenty TsK RKP(b)--VKP(b), VChK--OGPU--NKVD o kul'turnoi politike, 1917-1953, ed. Andrei Artizov and Oleg Naumov (Moscow: Demokratiia, 1999), 439-44. See also Aleksandr Galushkin, "Andrei Platonov--I. V. Stalin--Literaturnyi kritik," in "Straiia filosofov" Andreia Platonova; Problemy tvorchestva, ed. N. V. Kornienko (Moscow: Nasledie, 2000), 4: 817-22; N. V. Kornienko, commentary to Fabrika literatury: Literaturnaia kritika. Publitsistika, ed. Kornienko (Moscow: Vremia, 2011), 668.

(4) N. V. Kornienko, commentary to Schastlivaia Moskva: Ocherki i rasskazy 1930kh godov. Sobranie, ed. Kornienko (Moscow: Vremia, 2011), 609.

(5) Andrei Platonov, "Pushkin--nash tovarishch," Literaturnyi kritik, no. 1 (1937): 46-61; Platonov, "Pushkin i Gor'kii," Literaturnyi kritik, no. 6 (1937): 63-84.

(6) V. Ermilov, "O vrednykh vzgliadakh 'Literaturnogo kritika,'" Literaturnaia gazeta, 10 September 1939.

(7) Lev Shubin, Poiski smysla otdel'nogo i obshchego sushchestvovaniia: Ob Andree Platonove. Raboty raznykli let (Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel', 1987), 235; Kornienko, commentary to Fabrika literatury, 667.

(8) Kornienko, commentary to Fabrika literatury, 667-69.

(9) Cited in "Iz dokladnoi zapiski sekretarei SSP SSSR," 442-43.

(10) Kornienko, commentary to Schastlivaia Moskva, 609.

(11) G. Lukach, "Emmanuil Levin," Literaturnoe obozrenie, no. 19-20 (1937): 55.

(12) Lukach, "Emmanuil Levin," 55.

(13) Ibid., 58, 59.

(14) Galushkin, "Andrei Platonov--I. V. Stalin--Literaturnyi kritik," 817; Piatt, Greetings, Pushkin!, 156.

(15) Piatt, Greetings, Pushkin!, 165; N. V. Kornienko, "Povestvovatel'naia strategiia Platonova v svete tekstologii," in Kornienko, "Strana filosofov" Andreia Platonova: Problemy tvorchestva, N. V. Kornienko (Moscow: Nasledie, 1995), 2: 324-325.

(16) Kornienko, "Povestvovatel'naia strategiia Platonova," 2: 325.

(17) A. P. Platonov, Zapisnye knizhki: Materialy k biografii, ed. N. V. Kornienko (Moscow: Nasledie, 2000), 193, 195, 208

(18) Andrei Platonov, "Pushkin Is Our Comrade," trans. Ania Aizman, Pushkin Review 20 (2018): 111.

(19) Ibid.

(20) Ibid., 101-16.

(21) Mikhail Lifshitz, "Zametki ob optimizme Pushkina (glava iz neopubhkovannoi knigi)," published by V. M. German and A. M. Pichikian, ATternativy, no. 2 (1999): 75.

(22) Piatt, Greetings, Pushkin!, 162-63.

(23) Lifshitz, "Zametki ob optimizme Pushkina," 62, 72, 88-89.

(24) Platonov, "Pushkin Is Our Comrade," 108.

(25) Ibid., 110.

(26) Ibid., 116.

(27) Kornienko, commentary to Fabrika literatury. 678-79.

(28) Piatt, Greetings, Pushkin!, 165; A. P. Platonov, "Preodolenie zlodeistvo," in Kornienko, Fabrika literatury, 648-49.

(29) Platonov, "Pushkin Is Our Comrade," 110.

(30) Ibid., 116.

(31) On this ideal "hybrid of reason and feeling" and its relation to Platonov's understanding of Pushkin's art, see Piatt, Greetings, Pushkin!, 171; and Andrei Platonov, "Pushkin and Gorky," Pushkin Review 20 (2018): 117-39.

(32) Platonov, "Pushkin and Gorky," 120-21.

(33) Ibid., 117.

(34) Ibid, 128-29.

(35) Ibid., 119.

(36) Ibid., 136.

(37) Ibid, 122.

(38) Ibid, 123.

(39) Ibid., 122.

(40) Ibid., 117.

(41) Ermilov, "O vrednykh vzgliadakh 'Literaturnogo kritika.'"

(42) Shubin, Poiski smysla, 247.

(43) Poltavtseva cites as evidence Platonov's fictional treatment of such conventionally Platonovian themes as "the problematic personality, alienation overcome through creative and 'reifying' labor, primordial sociality transformed into a socialist society, the eradication of the old condition of the world, and the transition from the 'prehistory' of humanity to the true history" (Poltavtseva, "Platonov i Lukach," 261).

(44) Khazanov, "Honest Jacobins," 4-5.

(45) Particularly noteworthy are two recent studies on the place of dialectical thinking and negative affect, in Platonov's fiction. In Affective Mapping, Jonathan Flatley uses Raymond Williams's concept "structure of feeling" to denote a "full-fledged parallel to ideology ... [in the] the specifically affective elements of consciousness" that mediates and "shapes our affective attachments to different objects in the social order." Flatley analyzes Platonov's use of melancholy (toska) to elaborate the contours of "subjectivity in a noncapitalist modernity" and argues that Platonov's characters are dialectical to the extent that they are 'marked by what they have lost." See Flatley, Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 26, 178. In his article on Platonov, Artem Magun demonstrates how the negativity of Platonov's tragic fiction operates as a "literary machine," a "mechanism of revolutionary subjectivity" that '"refines" the suffering of his reader, giving it an "operative, active (dramatic) character," and "heightens [the reader's] sense of the world." See Artem Magun, "Otritsatel'naia revoliutsiia Andreia Platonova," Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, no. 106 (2010): 73.

(46) E. Inozemtseva, "Platonov v Voronezhe," Pod'em, no. 2 (1971): 100.

(47) A. P. Platonov, "Zhizn' do kontsa," in Sochinetiiia: Nauchnoe izdanie, vol. 1, pt. 2, ed. N. V. Kornienko (Moscow: IMLI RAN, 2004), 180.

(48) Ibid., 180-81.

(49) Inozemtseva, "Platonov v Voronezhe," 100; M. Nemtsov and E. Antonova, '"Gubmeliorator tov. Platonov': Po materialam Narkomata zemledeliia 1921-1926 gg," in Kornienko, "Strana filosofov" Andreia Platonova, 3: 476-508; Thomas Seifrid, Andrei Platonov: Uncertainties of Spirit (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 2, 7, 205.

(50) A. P. Platonov, "Metod obshchestvennykh rabot," in Sochineniia: Nauchnoe izdanie. vol. 1, part 2, 283.

(51) Ibid.

(52) Ibid., 284.

(53) Ibid.

(54) Khazanov, "Honest Jacobins," 26--27.

(55) Piatt explains Lifshitz's use of the term Kunstperiode in a way which further illustrates Lifshitz's aristocratic sensibility: "Lifshits insists on the difference between the classics' harmony and clarity and the rough naivety of folk art, which inevitably expresses the 'primitive, undeveloped, oppressed condition' of the people. The narodnost' of the true classic follows only as a second stage, marking the occurrence in every people's history of what Heinrich Heine called (after Hegel) the Kunstperiode--the period of Goethe and Schiller in Germany, the High Renaissance in Italy, or Pushkin in Russia. This 'happy moment.' represents the peak of aristocratic culture, when it briefly escapes the narrowness of class interest and touches the 'popular fundament' (262). It is the stage of 'aristocratic democracy,' in which 'the greatest achievements of artistic culture' occur, approaching the species-interests of humanity" (Piatt, Greetings, Pushkin!, 158).

(56) Ibid., 163-64.

(57) Mikhail Lifshitz, "On Pushkin: Letter to G. M. Fridlender, 8 April 1938," trans. Pavel Khazanov, Pushkin Review 20 (2018): 77.

(58) Platonov, "Pushkin Is Our Comrade," 115-16.
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Author:Cieply, Jason
Publication:Pushkin Review
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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