Cover Osteuropa 8-10/2016

In Osteuropa 8-10/2016

Utopia in becoming and failing
Platonov’s The Foundation Pit and the Tower of Babel

Hans Günther

Deutsche Fassung


Platonov’s “shared proletarian house” and the archetypical Tower of Babel have one thing in common: they were never completed. However, while the construction of the Biblical tower at first progresses successfully, Platonov’s novel The Foundation Pit already ends in the preliminary stage with a complete disaster. The result of the utopian project is a vast pit, a hole in the earth. Thus, the foundation pit becomes a symbol of the abyss of Stalinist society. The debate surrounding the Tower of Babel has a tradition in Russia literature on which Platonov can draw. Anatoly Lunacharsky and the poet Alexei Gastev polemicized from the Promethean perspective of proletarian culture against Dostoevsky, in whose Legend of the Grand Inquisitor the builders of the Tower of Babel appear as weak rebels against Christ.

(Osteuropa 8-10/2016, pp. 311–316)