THE MAKEPEACE EXPERIMENT by Abram Tertz

THE MAKEPEACE EXPERIMENT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Anti-utopian satire in English is perhaps best known through Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's Animal Farm. The latter's 1984. however, belongs to the nightmare genre of anti-utopianism, as does Zamyatin's We. In any case, the talented Abram Tertz has extended the tradition with The Makepeace Experiment. Satiric and ominous overtones are blended in the guise of a folk tale or a fantasy, superficially in the manner of Gogol, but heightened by modernist devices, especially the play-on-words of Ionesco and Brecht's alienation effects (the use here of mock-pedantic footnotes etc.). The plot proper concerns the adventures of ""who suddenly be-Leonard Makepeace, an obscure ""mechanic and expert on bicycles, comes the revolutionary head of ""the free City of Lyubimov,"" and effects remarkable scientific, bureaucratic and social progress. Throughout Tertz makes ingenious and frequently hilarious parallels with certain aspects of Soviet history, past and present: the personality cult, dialectical materialism, peaceful co-existence, technological planning, the Cheka security police and so forth. In the end, Leonard's dream world collapses: the people are not capable of sustaining his ""Palaces of Science, Youth, Labor, Realistic Art"" nor his ""Fountain of Love"" and the old regime returns. Tertz, mixing various spoofs, seems to suggest, finally, a spoof of the recent cultural ""thaw."" A delighting and disturbing work.

Publisher: Pantheon