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In 1920, andrey platonov attended the first all-Russian Congress of Proletarian Writers. In reply to a point in a questionnaire-“What literary movement do you belong to or sympathise with?”-Platonov, then just 21, wrote, “None, I have my own.” I take this story from Robert Chandler’s introduction to The Return. Anyone who (like me) knows pretty well nothing about Platonov will be very grateful to Chandler.

Platonov’s life was one of who knows how many thousand tragedies of obstinate integrity. He was born in 1899, the eldest of 11 children of a metal worker. He left school at 15, trained as…

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