All posts tagged: side effect of the Revolution

A Vision of Russia as a Country That Runs on Violence

A Vision of Russia as a Country That Runs on Violence

As Vladimir Putin’s army continues to wage war in Ukraine—destroying cities and villages, murdering civilians, and kidnapping children—many people may find themselves probing the culture of modern Russia in an effort to make sense of the atrocities. In the past, those looking to art or literature to better understand Russian society might have picked up works by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. But these writers feel less relevant today: The 19th century is receding into the distance, and so are the glorified or mystical qualities its authors ascribed to Russia and its people. Today, few books offer the level of insight into modern Russian history as Chevengur does, a 1929 novel by the Soviet writer Andrey Platonov, composed as the Bolsheviks established the Soviet Union and consolidated power. Never published in its entirety in his lifetime, Platonov’s epic of the Russian Revolution has recently been translated into English by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, the first such undertaking since 1978. Chevengur shows how an embrace of violence destroys the soul of a nation, and lays bare humanity’s inexhaustible …