This thesis examines the nature and use of irony in the works of Platonov in relation to idealism, as it would be difficult to find in any of his writings an instance of irony that is not, in some way, connected with Soviet idealism. For example, often his response to official idealism is the doubly ironic presentation of his own version of the ideal (such as his outrageous portrayal of the peasant Makar as the ideal socialist, which challenges the regime’s view of the peasant as stupid and backward). The opposition idealism as irony/irony as idealism describes his ironic approach to idealism, and his employment of a dichotomic style in order to convey his dialectical way of thinking.
This thesis largely focuses upon Platonov’s satires and parodies of the 1920s and 1930s, all of which deal with the complex early socialist experience. “Усомнившийся Макар”, for example, serves as a key text, owing to its prominent peasant/official and realism/idealism dichotomies. Чевенгур is also notable for its realism/idealism dichotomy. Cчастливая Москва and “Среди животных и растений” figure prominently, owing to their (respective) ironic depictions of Moskva and Fedorov’s mother as New Soviet Women. Though not a satire or parody, “Электрофикация” also receives mention, because it reveals key elements of Platonov’s worldview. Reference is also made to the novella Джан, a deeply psychological work full of nuance and steeped in eroticism which remains in a category of its own.
In his body of ironic works, Platonov synthesizes the many realities of his compatriots into a coherent whole. This synthesis of difference is made possible by Platonov’s strong belief in inclusiveness, which underlies his work, unifying or cementing together the different elements. He also employs inclusiveness ironically or dialectically, in order to expose its inherent opposite, exclusion, and the estrangement which it engenders.
There is a dynamic dialogue between text and context in the works of Platonov, which highlights the importance of the social, cultural, ideological, political, and historical contexts within which he wrote. I will, therefore, employ a methodological approach based on the investigation of context.