Waterworks: Andreĭ Platonov's fluid anti-utopia
This dissertation aims to reconsider the work of the Soviet Russian writer Andrei Platonov in light of his conscious preoccupation with water over the entire course of his careers. Platonov’s close contact and fundamental affinity with water began with his experience as a hydrologist. From early 1921 until late 1926, he worked with enthusiasm as a hydrologist in his native province. At the same time, he produced numerous essays on land reclamation as a young publicist, emphasizing the enormous importance of water for nature and human life alike. He also dramatized his hydrological experience in a number of stories during this period. Platonov continued to reveal his deep interest in water and further elevated to the prevailing imagery in his mature prose of the late 1920s and the 1930s. Whereas previous interpretations of Platonov’s water imagery have concentrated mainly on his major works, the present study encompasses a wide range of his writings and investigates a great variety of water images as depicted in them. The dissertation begins by examining Platonov’s great concern with water as revealed both in his early essays and in his poetic pieces. It then proceeds to explore the evolution of water imagery as elaborated into literary images in his prose pieces of the 1920s and the 1930s. While establishing the continuity and consistency of Platonov’s deep interest in water as a hydrologist and a writer, the dissertation seeks to show his full appreciation of the universality and profundity of water imagery throughout his oeuvre. Navigating Platonov’s literary “watercourse,” it also attempts to thoroughly fathom the extraordinary depth and breadth of water imagery as a dominant theme represented in his two anti-utopian works, Chevengur and Kotlovan.