Home > Uncategorized > Andrei Platonov: Will the world become inured to bombing?

Andrei Platonov: Will the world become inured to bombing?

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

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Andrei Platonov
From Through the Midnight
Translated by Brian Bean

Summer could sense the secret resentment of the peasants over the appearance of military units in the area. The great horde of armed idlers taking up good ploughland with lorry parks and barracks, the officers billeted on them, in the houses that belonged to their fathers and grandfathers before them, the thunder and roar of engines being tested in the once quiet, fruitful fields – all this weighed on the peasants’ souls, and they lived on their native soil as though in a foreign land, as if they were about to die or emigrate forever.

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Summer told the driver to stop and climbed out onto the roadside. It was already dark and there were no lights anywhere – kerosene and electricity were to be economised – only a disturbing, wailing voice sang somewhere in the distance, coming in regular waves as if arising from the stony depths of the earth for all eternity, so that one might get used to it and cease to hear it and live in peace and silence. It was the whine of engines being tested at the nearby experimental aircraft factory and the answering howl of the wind tunnel – new models of fighters and bombers were being designed there. All over the world now these tunnels were singing and new engines were howling on the testing stands. Bombs, too, would soon be falling with such frequency and regularity that people would cease to hear them and life would once more seem quiet, and death from a bomb fragment as natural as dying in one’s bed.

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…Summer had given up working to improve aircraft engines. For engines, whether they were good or bad, did not help a man to live aright if there was no sacred essence in him, or if that essence had been mutilated or destroyed. Perhaps the essence was our soul – we don’t know exactly what that is, but we do know that without it men cannot live together on this earth. This was proved by the fact that there was so much suffering in the world….

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