Andrei Platonov: Dzhan [Soul]

(1972 words)

The original title of this short novel, Dzhan, is a Persian word that has been adopted into the Turkic languages of Central Asia. Platonov himself glosses the word as “a soul in search of happiness”. In the novel, however, he uses it primarily to designate an imaginary nation composed of the exiles and outcasts of countless other nations. These people are so poor that they have nothing left but their soul, “their ability to feel and suffer” they are so weak, thin and exhausted that their bones rattle when they move and they are in constant danger of forgetting to go on breathing.

Soul begins with the hero, Nazar Chagataev, being ordered by the Party to return from Moscow to his Central Asian homeland, t…

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Chandler, Robert. "Dzhan". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 June 2006
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]