{Audible} Life and FateAuthor Vasily Grossman – Schematicwiringdiagram.co

Life and Fate is an epic tale of a country told through the fate of a single family, the Shaposhnikovs As the battle of Stalingrad looms, Grossman s characters must work out their destinies in a world torn apart by ideological tyranny and war Completed inand then confiscated by the KGB, this sweeping panorama of Soviet society remained unpublished until it was smuggled into the West in , where it was hailed as a masterpiece Librarian s Note This is an alternative cover edition of ISBN


10 thoughts on “Life and Fate

  1. Michael Michael says:

    I have to use the M word for this panoramic portrayal of the Soviet experience of World War 2 masterpiece I was moved and uplifted, enlightened and devastated, and ultimately made into a better person witempathy and understanding of the human condition This is an insider s view, as is made clear by the wonderful background provided by the translator, Robert Chandler Grossman was a Ukrainian Jew who studied chemistry in his youth, became a novelist with the support of Gorky, and with I have to use the M word for this panoramic portrayal of the Soviet experience of World War 2 masterpiece I was moved and uplifted, enlightened and devastated, and ultimately made into a better person witempathy and understanding of the human condition This is an insider s view, as is made clear by the wonderful background provided by the translator, Robert Chandler Grossman was a Ukrainian Jew who studied chemistry in his youth, became a novelist with the support of Gorky, and with the advent of war became a renowned war correspondent who covered Stalingrad and the fall of Berlin and who pieced together for the first time in print the hidden story of the operations of a German death camp, Treblinka This book was completed in 1960, but the manuscript was seized and suppressed by the KGB Fortunately, a copy was smuggled out a decade later through the efforts of Sakharov and Voinovitch and reached print in the West in the early 80s.The novel is very ambitious in portraying seminal events from a range of perspectives, from peasants to scientists, from partisans to generals, with brief forays into viewpoint of German soldiers as well What helps with integration across its broad scope is that most of the stories are confined to the Winter of 1942 43 during which the Battle of Stalingrad became the turning point in the war Also, in the tradition of War and Peace which I haven t read , the narrative places various members of one large extended family at the core of most of the scenarios used to bring to life a nation and a society at war the elderly Shaposhnikova matriarch, stuck in Ukraine at the onset of war, ends up confined by the Germans in a Jewish ghetto that is later massacred her son Viktor, a Jewish theoretical physicist who is driven by pure science and tested in his integrity by politics his wife s ex husband, who is placed in a Soviet work camp among Trotsky style Bolsheviks purged in 1937 his sister in law who is torn between her ex husband and her fianc , the first a party true believer who serves as a political officer in Stalingrad and is later falsely accused and imprisoned in Moscow as a traitor, and the latter a colonel of a tank brigade who leads the Soviet counterstrike at Stalingrad Viktor s sister, a Moscow physician caught while traveling, bravely experiences a trip by cattle car to meet her fate in a gas chamber There is a pervasive tender compassion for all, but not for the true enemies, the totalitarian states of Hitler and Stalin, which Grossman shows to be mirrored twins in so many ways Grossman s compassion comes from wanting to give voice to the dead, such as his own mother, who was killed with about 30,000 other Jews in Bedichev in Ukraine and to whom the book is dedicated Like others writers who have borne witness to the Holocaust, he is concerned with how it affects our conception of what it means to be human and the nature of good and evil How so many held on forlornly to hope and passively obeyed How millions could ignore what was happening and let people be led like lambs to the slaughter And how others rebelled and resisted, in small ways or at great risk to themselves Grossman breaks through from the narrative to speak of these things, but mostly he brings these themes to life through his characters, and in both approaches uses transcendent language full of sublime or horrific beauty.Reading this book takes a special commitment, not just of the investment of time it takes to read such a massive tome, but also in emotional trust that it will not just wrench you pitilessly and leave you like a rag in despair Grossman somehow achieves the miracle of infusing hope at every turn in a way that transcends death For example, there is a point where a poet in a work camp expounds on how simple human kindness, such as sharing a scrap of bread with an enemy, is a core of humanity that persists despite all brutality and despair In this quote, Viktor s mother speaks eloquently of resilient hope in a letter to him from a doomed Jewish ghetto Thesorrow there is in man, the less hope he has of survival the better, the kinder, thegenerous he becomes.The poorest people, the tailors and tinsmiths, the ones without hope, are so much nobler,generous andintelligent than the people who ve somehow managed to lay by a few provisions The young schoolmistresses Spilberg, the eccentric old teacher and chess player the timid women who work in the library Reyvich, the engineer, who shelpless than a child, yet dreams of arming the ghetto with hand made grenades what wonderful, impractical, dear, sad, good people they all are People carry on, Vitra, as though their whole life lies ahead of them It s impossible to say if that is wise or foolish it s just the way people are.The woman doctor in her last moments is here uplifted by communion with a boy she helped on the cattle car to the gas chamber Her eyes which have read Homer, Izvestia, Huckleberry Finn and Mayne Reid, that had looked at good people and bad people, that had seen the geese in the green meadows of Kursk, the stars above the observatory at Pulkovo, the glitter of surgical steel, the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, tomatoes and turnips in the bins at market, the blue water of Issyk Kul her eyes were no longer of any use to her If someone had blinded her, she would have felt no sense of loss Sofya Levinton felt the boy s body subside in her arms This boy, with his slight, bird like body, has left before her I ve become a mother, she thought That was her last thought.Her heart, however, still had life in it it contracted, ached, and felt pity for all of you, both living and dead Sofya Osipovna felt a wave of nausea She pressed David, now a doll, to herself she became dead, a doll.The political commissar in the besieged tractor factory at Stalingrad is suddenly uplifted by music in a pause in the fighting Somehow the music seemed to have helped him understand time Time is a transparent medium People and cities rise out of it, move through it and disappear back into it It is time that brings them and time that takes them away Such is time everything passes, it alone remains everything remains, it alone passes And how swiftly and noiselessly it passes Only yesterday you were sure of yourself, strong and cheerful, a son of the time But now another time has come and you don t even know it.In yesterday s fighting, time has been torn to shreds now it emerged again from the plywood fiddle belonging to Rubunchik the barber This fiddle told some that their time had come and others that their time had passed I m finished, Krymov said to himself Finished Suddenly, Krymov remembered one summer night the large, dark eyes of a Cossack girl and her hot whisper Yes, in spite of everything, life was good.The fiddler stopped and a quiet murmur became audible the sound of the water flowing by under the wooden duckboards It seemed to Krymov that his soul was indeed a well that had been dry and empty but now it was gently filling with water.I end this excessively long review with samples of the many kernels of truth that help make the journey of this book worthwhile Having established man s readiness to obey when confronted with limitless violence, we must go on to draw one further conclusion that is of importance for an understanding of man and his future Does human nature overcome a true change in the cauldron of totalitarian violence Does man lose his innate yearning for freedom The fate of both man and the totalitarian State depends on the answer to this question If human nature does change, then the eternal and world wide triumph of the dictatorial State is assured if his yearning for freedom remains constant, then the totalitarian State is doomed.From examples over history of individual and group defiance of these destructive forces, Grossman finds that All these bear witness to the indestructability of man s yearning for freedom The yearning was suppressed but it continues to exist Man s fate may make him a slave, but his nature remains unchanged.Man s innate yearning for freedom can be suppressed but never destroyed Totalitarianism cannot renounce violence If it does, it perishes eternal, ceaseless violence, overt or covert, is the basis of totalitarianism Man does not renounce freedom voluntarily This conclusion holds out hope for our time, hope for our future.In the words of a poet in a Soviet work camp, I find sustenance in Grossman s vision of the eternal in individual consciousness When a person dies, they cross over from the realm of freedom to the realm of slavery What constitutes the freedom, the soul of an individual life, is its uniqueness The reflection of the universe in someone s consciousness is the foundation of his or her power, but life only becomes happiness, is only endowed with freedom and meaning when someone exists as a whole world that has never been repeated in all eternity Only then can they experience the joy of freedom and kindness, finding in others what they have already found in themselves.


  2. Orsodimondo Orsodimondo says:

    QUI SI SCRIVE, NON SI VA A ZONZOQui si scrive, non si va a zonzo cos avrebbe detto Tolstoj se avesse potuto leggere Vita e destino.Qui non si va a zonzo, sono pagine con peso specifico, importanti, ben oltre il lor numero settecento.Da anni, molti, non leggevo un libro cos.Cos bello, cos denso, cos esigente, cos ricco.Arrivato a met , ho istintivamente rallentato, per non finirlo troppo presto, per gustarlo a fondo, distillarlo Quando l ho chiuso per l ultima volta, ho deciso di tenerl QUI SI SCRIVE, NON SI VA A ZONZOQui si scrive, non si va a zonzo cos avrebbe detto Tolstoj se avesse potuto leggere Vita e destino.Qui non si va a zonzo, sono pagine con peso specifico, importanti, ben oltre il lor numero settecento.Da anni, molti, non leggevo un libro cos.Cos bello, cos denso, cos esigente, cos ricco.Arrivato a met , ho istintivamente rallentato, per non finirlo troppo presto, per gustarlo a fondo, distillarlo Quando l ho chiuso per l ultima volta, ho deciso di tenerlo ancora sul comodino, di non metterlo subito via sullo scaffale, di non separarmene bruscamente e abituarmi con calma al silenzio che custodisce il ricordo di Strum, Zenja, Krymov e altri centocinquanta personaggi.Che forse non diventeranno mai assenza.Quando ho iniziato non avevo la giusta concentrazione, le parole mi bussavano al cervello, ma non venivano assorbite, come l olio dall acqua Infatti, dopo duecento pagine mi son fermato, l ho posato ed rimasto a lungo in attesa.Finalmente, l ho ripreso, dalla prima pagina, e da quel momento si messo in moto un piacere puro che durato per tutta la lettura, senza cedimenti, cali, stanchezza Ho dovuto aiutarmi guardando cartine geografiche, con una mappa dei personaggi, che sono sterminati come la steppa e l umanit dei lager e dei gulag, tutti provvisti di nome cognome patronimico e uno, se non due, diminuitivi mi sono scontrato con i tenenti colonnelli e i tenenti generali e i commissari, le divisioni, le unit , i reggimenti, i battaglioni.Una fatica pienamente ripagata.Grossman affronta il suo racconto senza paura e senza soggezione.Eppure ci sarebbe da tremare l universo concentrazionario dal punto di vista di un osservatore e non della vittima.Grossman conosce la materia, l ha vista da vicino, c era quando successo una marcia in pi , uno sguardo tanto pi acuto profondo e illuminante Conosce il cielo di cemento, i muscoli forti dell acciaio, i crateri delle bombe, un fiume allagato di fiamme, il freddo la fame e la paura, un mondo di spie e uomini non fra i migliori, parecchi dei quali hanno guardato il male dall alto in basso, mentre la morte faceva il suo lavoro e gli uomini il proprio.Poi, il suo talento ha fatto il resto Non credo nella bont universale, nel bene generato dal socialismo o dal cristianesimo Credo nei piccoli atti di generosit .Cos dice uno dei personaggi di queste settecento pagine, e sembra di sentire Cechov Coerentemente, a me sembra che qui la condanna sia per ogni forma di totalitarismo, non solo quello nazista e sovietico come se Grossman dicesse che basta ci sia un solo ghetto perch tutto il mondo viva nel ghetto, che basta un solo gulag perch nessuno possa sentirsi libero Non per lettori frettolosi, direi ma a tutti sapr regalare bellezza e profondit.Alexandr Deineka Difesa di Sebastopoli, 1942


  3. WILLIAM2 WILLIAM2 says:

    When I first learned that Vasily Grossman s model for this novel was War and Peace, I thought he was setting his sights astronomically not to say unattainably high There are huge differences between the two books, of course Remember Tolstoy s lovely modulated long sentences Grossman doesn t even try to compete on that level By contrast, his language tends toward the so called Soviet realism of the day This was a style in which many of the Party hacks also wrote The difference between When I first learned that Vasily Grossman s model for this novel was War and Peace, I thought he was setting his sights astronomically not to say unattainably high There are huge differences between the two books, of course Remember Tolstoy s lovely modulated long sentences Grossman doesn t even try to compete on that level By contrast, his language tends toward the so called Soviet realism of the day This was a style in which many of the Party hacks also wrote The difference between those scribblers and Grossman is the fact that he told the truth Nor is there anything in Life and Fate to compare with Tolstoy s fantastic scenes of the nobility There s no crystal or caviar, no six horse barouches, no perfumed d colletage, no placid landscapes, and of course no character even remotely like Field Marshal Kutuzov who, when he hears of the retreating French, mutters to himself I shall make them eat horse meat Late in Life and Fate, however, when the Germans encircled at Stalingrad were hacking away at a frozen horse, this reader could think of nothing else.This is the first book I ve read that has given me a sense of how World War II affected the whole of the USSR It s all here the Battle for Stalingrad, the Siege of Leningrad, the evacuation of Moscow and other major cities, life in the country, the miserable rationing system, the sheer sense of deprivation The canvas is huge but Grossman, who can describe entire crowds in a brief paragraph, never pulls focus so far back that the individual is lost This approach, the only one possible, seems a refutation of the Communist raison d tre itself One is reminded why so much of the Communist Party agitprop failed It was not only because it was horribly written though in the West even poorly written pulp novels are to a certain extent readable, see Philip K Dick et al no, it was because agitprop ignored the individual, who, when he or she did appear, was rendered meaningful only to the extent that he or she supported the group It goes without saying of course that novels are dependent on characters, not crowds Grossman s narrative consists of the following interlarded story lines involving a single extended family, the Shaposhnikovs What I will provide here is just the barest outline First, there s physicist Viktor Pavlovich Shtrum, married to the shrill Lyudmila Nikolaevna Viktor, a great theoretical genius and a Jew, undergoes a crisis of conscience How can he possibly support his criminal, genocidal state The crisis all but tears him to pieces He s also in love with a colleague s wife, so there s ample heartbreak Second is the story of the Battle for Stalingrad before and after the German capitulation Here, one Krymov, a political commissar, and as such, like his fellows, a perpetual thorn in the side of army officers, discovers that no amount of blind alliegiance will ever protect him from the capricious and paranoid hand of Beria s state security apparatus It s a miracle Stalingrad was won Thank God for Lend Lease A third story line deals with the remnant of Red Army soldiers who have remained alive in Nazi death camps after the first terrible year of the war during which three million were captured and killed Fourth, is the story of Abarchuk, Lyudmila s first husband, and his life in the Gulag Even Solzhenitzyn s Gulag Archipelago did not prepare me for the drama here Fifth, we have the story of the indecisive Yevgenia Nikolaevna, and the harm she causes while vacillating between two men Krymov, the husband she s left, and her new love, Novikov, commander of a tank battalion and one of the heroes of Stalingrad There s much , of course No summary can do even provisional justice to this 900 pager.Grossman s style is deceptively flat Look at how concisely he describes an entire barrack s full of people, one at a time It s masterful Or the way he evokes the moods of the Volga and the apocalyptic cityscape of Stalingrad What was especially interesting to me was how adroitly he switched from one subplot to another while sustaining interest If he has a tendency toward the occassional purplish passage, and a penchant for pseudo philosophical musings, he makes up for it with the overarching thrust of his narrative Grossman transcends his model I ve never read anything like it Recommended with brio


  4. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    Zhizn i sadba Life and Fate a novel Stalingrad 2 , Vasily GrossmanLife and Fate is a 1960 novel by Vasily Grossman and is seen as the author s magnum opus Technically, it is the second half of the author s conceived two part book under the same title Although the first half, the novel For a Just Cause, written during the rule of Joseph Stalin and first published in 1952, expresses loyalty to the regime, Life and Fate sharply criticizes Stalinism Zhizn i sadba Life and Fate a novel Stalingrad 2 , Vasily GrossmanLife and Fate is a 1960 novel by Vasily Grossman and is seen as the author s magnum opus Technically, it is the second half of the author s conceived two part book under the same title Although the first half, the novel For a Just Cause, written during the rule of Joseph Stalin and first published in 1952, expresses loyalty to the regime, Life and Fate sharply criticizes Stalinism 1999 1377 919 9644353102 1386 9789644483660 20 1941


  5. Jan-Maat Jan-Maat says:

    A confession in three parts I Well, I was completely wrong about this book, and I am pleased to admit it To nuance that, if I was going to give it a Goodreads star rating it would be two star, maybe two and a half, or 2.47.I was even so unwise to tell a very dear friend that in my opinion it was nothan a 20th century rewrite of War and Peace, which it is but importantly it emphatically is not.I had also imagined that it was about the battle of Stalingrad, reading, I see that really A confession in three parts I Well, I was completely wrong about this book, and I am pleased to admit it To nuance that, if I was going to give it a Goodreads star rating it would be two star, maybe two and a half, or 2.47.I was even so unwise to tell a very dear friend that in my opinion it was nothan a 20th century rewrite of War and Peace, which it is but importantly it emphatically is not.I had also imagined that it was about the battle of Stalingrad, reading, I see that really it is about anti Semitism, actually the issue of being Jewish in modern totalitarian states in which number I include on the grounds of laziness the so called nation states which have admittedly increasingly only implicit notions of exclusivity Part 2, chapter 31 treats anti Semitism in detail but it is present throughout in a range of forms, notably none of the Jewish characters seem to be observant, nor Yiddish speaking, while people who use Ukrainian words are pointed out but don t experience prejudice.It is also an explosively anti soviet book, which was banned because it hurt the Soviet regime where it really hurt ie in the Party s claim to have played a guiding role in achieving victory in WWII, here even the fighting commissars are just another level of privileged people confusing the command structure and telling tales on the serious soldiers who want to fight effectively and efficiently without massive casualties I now see that Solzhenitsyn was by contrast with Grossman merely a literary Donald Trump or Nigel Farage an exemplar of the politics of the whinging of the relatively privileged citizen.It is rather journalistic, less a novel than a series of reports with reoccurring characters and themes, but do I imagine that it will live with me likeWar and Peace no, not for an instant, and yet it emphatically is not War and Peace and so will find its own place II Let me drain the glass and roll up my sleeves I don t know And specifically I don t know what kind of achievementLife and Fate is Firstly a very basic problem, if you grab a copy and hold it before you it s ok, take your time, I am not going anywhere, what you have is not what the author intended Grossman died in 1964 The MSS down to his typewriter ribbons had been taken from him by the KGB in 1960 and it remains with them and now I guess, lays in some FSB storage facility, however somehow two MSes emerged and were microfilmed, these microfilms were smuggled out of the USSR and constructed into a text published in 1980 This reconstruction has been translated, in my edition missing sections are marked with an ellipses How complete the version current available is, or how far or close it is to the author s vision we can not know, what we have represents a work in progress, interrupted IIa I confess I readWar and Peace first and that this was and was not a mistake It is hard to come across opinion of Life and Fate which does not refer toWar and Peace, this is understandable and unhelpful, I, a miserable sinner, carried my memories ofWar and Peace into my reading of this and it was a glass of vinegar poured into my jug of milk WP is a tight family saga over a long period of time, it has the implicit message that we have to understand people in the context of the spirit of their times plus the effects of the times they live through the people of 1805 are different in 1825 in response to what has happened to them in those twenty years LF begins in media res like an epic It follows an awful lot of people over a short period of time most of their stories are not given any kind of closure or conclusion Sometimes characters are introduced only to die, abruptly or after an interval sometimes after several hundred pages a connection emerges between a couple of characters in separate locations One might say it is rather like the Iliad If like me you set to reading LF imagining it to be as I wrongly thought a WWII, 20th century WP, the effect is disconcerting, one is overlaying Tolstoyian expectations on a writer who was attempting to tell a different kind of story.While Tolstoy tells the story of the growth Russian chauvinism as a good thing, Grossman sees this differently, again the war is transformative, but he sees the death of Internationalism and tolerance for diversity within the Soviet Union as a narrow and exclusive Russian nationalism comes to the fore in which Russian come first for promotions and non Russians are objects of suspicion and assumed to be unworthy Tolstoy was never interested in tolerance in WP, but Grossman writes himself close to the centre of the 20th century experience, exclusive forms of identity quickly become exclusionary and given to persecute minorities, the purist example of this is Fascist Germany the opposite extreme would be the tolerance of Chekhovian Democracy, but this hasn t existed anywhere so far view spoiler I guess there are some people who may not have heard yet how WWII turns out and would prefer not to have the ending spoiled view spoiler There s an irony for Grossman in the Soviet Union delivering the killing blow to Fascism as people celebrate to the north of the now liberated Stalingrad, Grossman tells us that ten years later forced labourers will complete work on a dam at that spot a touch which reminded me pleasantly of The Leopard hide spoiler hide spoiler.Grossman express his philosophical difference from Tolstoy in his characterisation as well, if as above for Tolstoy character is the past plus events for Grossman the only reality is change, his characters are mysteries even to themselves and spend at times the latter part of a chapter wondering why they responded in a certain way at the beginning of it, acting in character is a luxury that they aspire to In practise a physicist is ashamed that he signed a letter letter which his friends believe he wouldn t have done, a soldier wonders why in company he culminated against the Kalmyks when he actually had found them very interesting people and not at all despicable, this sense of flux is reinforced by the fact that characters are continually in motion, soldiers moving up towards the front, civilians in evacuation quarters beginning to move back to Moscow or to a hole in the ground in what was Stalingrad, on a boat going somewhere searching for an injured son, queuing for news of an imprisoned ex husband Everybody is in motion The story feels as though it spills out of the book, the officer ordered to Headquarters is he going to be executed, imprisoned, reassigned to a different command, will the gentlemen in the Lubyanka be sent north of the Arctic Circle or to the Far East Will another officer be able to meet up again with the elegant lady of mature years to whom he gracefully lost at cards with the hope of wining at love And at the same time in the same breathe, I confess further LF is profoundly interwoven with WP, indeed with much of the canon of Russian Literature A section in the aforementioned Lubyanka reminded me of Dostoevsky s Grand inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov, indeed the informant and the inquisitor are the moral guardians of this state just as in Ivan Karamazov s Spanish fantasy There s a reference to Gogol s story of how the two Ivans quarrelled, and various references to WP from a reversal of Tolstoy s fleeing soldier giving a false impression of the whole battle to one character telling another to the latter s indignation and rage that WP is a fiction Tolstoy wasn t even alive at the time of the events thereby hinting to us that we can accept LF as having a greater degree of veracity.Anyway in the Lubyanka possibly my favourite section in the novel while one character under interrogation has a vision of the ideal society rather like Christ in BK wanting to kiss the Inquisitor another who had been in the Cheka recounts watching the political prisoners march out in columns to work under the Northern Lights on a railway north of the Arctic circle, most of them will die and the railway will barely serve any useful purpose, but to the prisoner that sight was pure poetry, when in 1984 we are told of the vision of a boot stamping on a face for all eternity we never get a sense that this is an aesthetically moving experience rather just a crude expression of power, here the suffering of others has become poetry and the prisoner goes on to outline his vision of the Gulag and the non gulag becoming one in a system of political original sin as it were, everybody obviously belongs in prison, were their labour can be optimally utilised, in this vision Stalin is Pharaoh and deviation from his will the only crime, one of which everyone is guilty, and the purpose of labour to fulfil his vision, in short Grossman sums up in two paragraphs the whole of The First Circle except for the silk underwear and the telephone boxes view spoiler don t get over excited hide spoiler IIIWhich means that I must confess that after rambling on I guess I think this book is closer to four stars than to my original position, not a masterpiece but certainly a contender Its vision of the spectrum of tolerance shading into intolerance is wide ranging an officer receives a letter from his sweetheart in which she tells him that she is going to stick with her ex husband who it seems will be sent into exile shades of Nekrasov here at this the officer deploys several choice words and expresses his wish to strike her on the jaw the natural end point of patriotism for Grossman is narcissism, Russians first, another way of saying me first, or me only How far away we are from Chekhov and the tolerance he showed for the strange wanderings and distinctive needs of the human heart Anyway on the downside for me this novel only really got going and started to feel like a potential masterpiece after page 600, which in a 870 page book isthan just a slow start, so I can t recommend it universally, it could be the great 20th century novel with WWII as the central event of the century and anti Semitism the central feature of that war The book is then in that way a brick in the hard road to a tolerant society


  6. Paul Paul says:

    A monumental novel in the Great Russian tradition which has been rightly compared with War and Peace It focuses on the Battle of Stalingrad, but covers a Science Institute, various prison camps and a concentration camp The list of characters is vast and the dramatis personae in my edition was well used Grossman was a journalist who covered the Battle of Stalingrad from the front line and his experience shows However this is, like War and Peace, very much not just a war novel Its scope is br A monumental novel in the Great Russian tradition which has been rightly compared with War and Peace It focuses on the Battle of Stalingrad, but covers a Science Institute, various prison camps and a concentration camp The list of characters is vast and the dramatis personae in my edition was well used Grossman was a journalist who covered the Battle of Stalingrad from the front line and his experience shows However this is, like War and Peace, very much not just a war novel Its scope is broad and it provides a penetrating analysis of the Soviet system and Stalinism in particular As you would expect the plot is interwoven with numerous themes Grossman was a Jew and Jewish identity is explored through one of the main characters, the scientist Victor Shtrum The description of the gas chamber is a very powerful piece of writing, focussing as it does on a child and an unrelated woman who provides comfort Her eyes which have read Homer, Izvestia, Huckleberry Finn and Mayne Reid, that had looked at good people and bad people, that had seen the geese in the green meadows of Kursk, the stars above the observatory at Pulkovo, the glitter of surgical steel, the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, tomatoes and turnips in the bins at market, the blue water of Issyk Kul her eyes were no longer of any use to her If someone had blinded her, she would have felt no sense of loss Sofya Levinton felt the boy s body subside in her arms This boy, with his slight, bird like body, has left before her I ve become a mother, she thought That was her last thought.Her heart, however, still had life in it it contracted, ached, and felt pity for all of you, both living and dead Sofya Osipovna felt a wave of nausea She pressed David, now a doll, to herself she became dead, a doll Grossman, despite the horrors he describes, clearly still believes in the fundamental goodness of humanity One of the main focuses of the book is the criticism of Stalinism, the sheer pointless stupidity of a totalitarian regime A number of the characters in the novel are old Bolsheviks who are struggling to come to terms with Stalin s regime and especially with the mass arrests of 1937 We see a number of them in camps and prisons trying to create some meaning in their situation The comparisons with War and Peace have some limitations Tolstoy was looking back Grossman was actually there and his journalistic training shines through He is able to compare the regimes of Hitler and Stalin and note the similarities This is a great novel which takes you along with its sheer power and the magnificence of the writing The canvas may sometimes be like a Breughel but Grossman s writing is suffused with optimism about humanity despite it all


  7. Ted Ted says:

    4 1 2Grossman stands in the tradition of the Russian novelists of the nineteenth century His characters, like Dostoevsky s, engage in great philosophical debates and the structure of Life and Fate is loosely based on that of Tolstoy s War and Peace Ideologically, however, the model to which Grossman admitted to feeling closest was Chekhov who brought into Russian literature a new kind of humanism based on the ideas of freedom and loving kindness Tzvetan TodorovGrossman during the Second Word 4 1 2Grossman stands in the tradition of the Russian novelists of the nineteenth century His characters, like Dostoevsky s, engage in great philosophical debates and the structure of Life and Fate is loosely based on that of Tolstoy s War and Peace Ideologically, however, the model to which Grossman admitted to feeling closest was Chekhov who brought into Russian literature a new kind of humanism based on the ideas of freedom and loving kindness Tzvetan TodorovGrossman during the Second Word War, a war correspondent for Krasnaya ZvezdaThe translator, Robert Chandler, has contributed a useful Introduction, going through biographical info on Grossman 1905 1964 , critical judgements of the book and Grossman s writings in general, and the history of the writing and suppressed publication of the novel Grossman had delivered the novel to officials in 1960, clearly believing it could be published Apparently it was read by several higher ups, some of whom thought it was very good but ultimately judged by one that it could only be published perhaps in two or three hundred years It was considered subversive enough that everything the authorities could get their hands one was confiscated, right down to the writer s typewriter ribbon It was not published at all until 1980, in the West, using microfilm of the entire novel that had been smuggled out of the Soviet Union and was finally published in Russia in 1988.It s sometimes called Stalingrad 2, but that s certainly not any indication that 1 needs to be read first I d never heard of 1 For a Just Cause until reading about it in Chandler s introduction, where he writes that Life and Fateis better seen as a separate novel that includes many of the same characters It is important not only as literature but also as history we have nocomplete picture of Stalinist Russia The power of other dissident writers Shalamov, Solzhenitsyn, Nadezhda Mandelstam derives from their position as outsiders Grossman s power derives at least in part from his intimate knowledge of every level of Soviet society In Life and Fate, Grossman achieves what many other Soviet writers struggled but failed to achieve a portrait of an entire age.The novel consists of three parts, each composed of 60 70 fairly shorts chapters One orchapters comprise what might be termed a single scene though some scenes can be found which run in non consecutive chapters Scenes defined in this way are set in a German concentration camp, a Russian labor camp, a journey to the gas chamber , the Lubyanka prison, a German fighter squadron, a Russian tank corps, and several locations in Stalingrad.The story is built around the Shaposhnikov family and their acquaintances, and takes place mostly during the Second World War conflagration between Germany and Russia There are some historical figures in the novel, but aside from Stalin and Hitler, they are all officers in one army or the other When these appear Grossman is obviously presenting a historical scene meant to be reasonably accurate when fictional characters touch the outskirts of these scenes we move into obviously historical fiction, much as Tolstoy s War and Peace is constructed Like Tolstoy, Grossman fashions scenes in Life and Fate which carry the narrative along from the perspective of the enemy German point of view A very long book, but I found it a comparatively fast read The third person narrative, which I found a bit dry in places, uses quite a bit of dialogue, both normal and inner dialogue thoughts of the characters If you have any interest in the Eastern Front, particularly in the Battle of Stalingrad, or a story of the Stalin era, this is a Russian novel you might like Previous review Ancestral Passions The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind s BeginningsRandom review The Marriage of Cadmus and HarmonyNext review The Open Society and Its EnemiesPrevious library review Complete Poems Anna AkhmatovaNext library review August 1914


  8. Magrat Ajostiernos Magrat Ajostiernos says:

    Rese a completa este libro est ambientado durante la batalla de Stalingrado, realmente lo que muestra son retazos de vidas durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial Puntos de vista muy dispares, personajes que sufrieron desde los campos de trabajo a los de concentraci n, el asedio, las bombas, la vida en el frente y la angustia por los familiares desaparecidos Vida y destino es mucho m s que una cr nica, habla de arte, literatura, dignidad, amor Rese a completa este libro est ambientado durante la batalla de Stalingrado, realmente lo que muestra son retazos de vidas durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial Puntos de vista muy dispares, personajes que sufrieron desde los campos de trabajo a los de concentraci n, el asedio, las bombas, la vida en el frente y la angustia por los familiares desaparecidos Vida y destino es mucho m s que una cr nica, habla de arte, literatura, dignidad, amor est plagado de dudas y sufrimiento y hubo un cap tulo en especial que me rompi el coraz n A n as lo he disfrutado much simo, por su cr tica pol tica tanto al comunismo como al fascismo, como especialmente por esa brutal humanidad que desprende


  9. Maria Clara Maria Clara says:

    Sin duda, es un libro duro pero tambi n, o sobretodo, retrata la humanidad de las personas Se puede decir que es una cr nica de la segunda guerra mundial vista desde la batalla de Stalingrado pasando por campos de concentraci n alemanes, los Gulag rusos y el d a a d a de la guerra, con todos sus horrores PD Como an cdota, cuando Grossman termin de escribir el libro, la KGB irrumpi en su piso y confisc todos sus apuntes y documentos Le pido que devuelva la libertad a mi libro, pido que Sin duda, es un libro duro pero tambi n, o sobretodo, retrata la humanidad de las personas Se puede decir que es una cr nica de la segunda guerra mundial vista desde la batalla de Stalingrado pasando por campos de concentraci n alemanes, los Gulag rusos y el d a a d a de la guerra, con todos sus horrores PD Como an cdota, cuando Grossman termin de escribir el libro, la KGB irrumpi en su piso y confisc todos sus apuntes y documentos Le pido que devuelva la libertad a mi libro, pido que mi libro se discuta con editores, no con los agentes de la KGB Qu sentido tiene que yo sea f sicamente libre cuando el libro al que he dedicado mi vida es arrestado No renuncio a l Pido libertad para mi libro


  10. Szplug Szplug says:

    When you consider the steps that had to be taken to smuggle this novel out of the Soviet Union, painstakingly photographed page by page on microfilm, you cannot but marvel at the determination and effort made by believers in the power of the written word to bring such important stories to light This epic novel is, along with Victor Serge s stunning masterwork Unforgiving Years , the best fictional depiction I ve read of the barbaric inhumanity of the Soviet experience in the Second World War When you consider the steps that had to be taken to smuggle this novel out of the Soviet Union, painstakingly photographed page by page on microfilm, you cannot but marvel at the determination and effort made by believers in the power of the written word to bring such important stories to light This epic novel is, along with Victor Serge s stunning masterwork Unforgiving Years , the best fictional depiction I ve read of the barbaric inhumanity of the Soviet experience in the Second World War and the tests of faith suffered by ardent communists as the horrifying truth that their fatherland was become a despotic police state becameandunavoidable What inner agonies must Grossman and Serge have endured, going to their graves believing that these works of art which they had sweated blood in wringing forth from the shopworn and suppurating experiences inflicted upon them by endless violence, strife, and war in relatively brief lives were destined to have an audience of but a handful of loyal friends or, in Grossman s case, of arrogantly presumptive party apparatchiks and a cultural minister who inflicted further wounds upon the author s sorely tried soul by announcing that it would never see the light of publication ere two hundred years had passed, and it could no longer be deemed harmful to the cause of the glorious state Life and Fate is a vast, sprawling and impassioned novel that is centered around the final months of the Battle of Stalingrad, the pivotal turning point for Communist Russia in the Second World War This is a kaleidoscopic novel, focusing on the lives of a number of interrelated families and individuals scattered from Moscow to the cold, empty deserts of the Kalmyk steppes Grossman, who was a war reporter at the Stalingrad front during the war, brings a piercing realism to his depictions of the courage, tenacity and camaraderie of the Russian soldiers defending the burnt out husk of a city, and the despair and suffering of those under both the Nazi and Bolshevik lash Indeed, the book s principal goal is to show how individuals are broken, and life made unbearable, under the crushing weight of the totalitarian state Grossman masterfully depicts the treacheries and petty competitions amongst the nomenklatura in an effort to show their devotion to Stalin, and their eagerness to denounce others to win an ephemeral favor We are given glimpses inside the articulated hell of concentration camps and gulags made melancholy observers of the final, bestial march of a band of doomed Jews from cattle cars to charnel house showers and we make the long and heartrending journey down the bitterly cold, indifferent Volga with a grieving mother, enduring all manner of discomfort and danger to find her severely wounded son.There are flaws in this sprawling story interesting storylines and characters introduced early on are abandoned there is a flatness, almost a journalistic feel perhaps intentional , to certain episodes and personalities and sidebars with some of the Russian soldiers feel tacked on Nevertheless, these are minor quibbles, and the central pivot of the novel the travails and Jewish based ostracism of the nuclear physicist Viktor Shtrum is a brilliantly delineated narrative of the soul crushing effects of a Soviet purge We squirm as Viktor oscillates between a desire to vigorously defend himself from a baseless hostility, and a resignation to meekly beg for forgiveness for his manufactured crime A vital novel for fans of Soviet literature and those who seek a clearer understanding of the brutality of life in wartime Russia