Project MUSE - War and Peace, Life and FateThis massive novel aims to do for World War II what War and Peace did for Napoleon's invasion of cand the comparison is not unjustified. Also the same is the terror and loss of will of the invading commander-in-chief when suddenly he understands that "Russia's so vast. We struck with an open hand, our fingers stretching across the infinite spaces of the East. And there was always a lack of reserves, a gaping void in the rear of the victorious forces and at their flanks. The narrative technique too is comparable.
Life and Fate
Like a handful of other people a decade ago, I felt that I held a samizdat ; no one else I knew had ever heard of it. Grossman was a Soviet Jewish journalist who covered the battle of Stalingrad and the liberation of the Treblinka extermination camp. After the war he wrote this epic novel. Life and Fate is a Soviet War and Peace, in which every aspect of society radiates out from the central characters, Viktor Shtrum and his wife Lyudmila. Dozens more interlinked people endure the war and its impact on ordinary and important lives, including those of Stalin and Hitler. The novel is long, pages in the Harvill edition, with a huge cast of characters that makes for a formidable challenge. Grossman was not a natural stylist — he wrote in journalistic prose; there is little lyricism.
Vasily Grossman served for over 1, days with the Red Army as a war correspondent on the Eastern Front. He was present during the street-fighting of Stalingrad, and his report 'The Hell of Treblinka' was the first eyewitness account of a Nazi death camp. Though he finished the war as a decorated lieutenant colonel in Berlin, his epic novel of the battle of Stalingrad, Life and Fate, was suppressed by the Soviet authorities and never published in his lifetime. Declared a 'non person', Grossman died in obscurity. Only in , with its posthumous publication in Switzerland, did his masterpiece gain an international reputation.
About Life and Fate. A book judged so dangerous in the Soviet Union that not only the manuscript but the ribbons on which it had been typed.
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Born to a Jewish family in Ukraine , then a part of the Russian Empire , Grossman trained as a chemical engineer at Moscow State University , earning the nickname Vasya-khimik Vasya the Chemist because of his diligence as a student. Upon graduation he took a job in Stalino now Donetsk in the Donets Basin. In the s he changed careers. He began writing full-time and published a number of short stories and several novels. At the outbreak of the Second World War , he was engaged as a war correspondent by the Red Army newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda ; he wrote first-hand accounts of the battles of Moscow , Stalingrad , Kursk and Berlin. Grossman's eyewitness reports of a Nazi extermination camp , following the discovery of Treblinka , were among the earliest accounts of a Nazi death camp by a reporter.
Although the first half, the novel For a Just Cause , written during the rule of Joseph Stalin and first published in , expresses loyalty to the regime, Life and Fate sharply criticises Stalinism. Vasily Grossman, a Russian Jew, became a correspondent for the Soviet military paper Krasnaya Zvezda , having volunteered and been rejected for military service in He spent approximately 1, days on the front lines, roughly three of the four years of the conflict between the Germans and Soviets. He was one of the first journalists to write about the ethnic cleansing of people in Eastern Europe and he was present at many famous battles. Life and Fate was his defining achievement,  its writing in part motivated by his feeling guilt over the death of his mother in the Berdychiv massacre at Berdychiv UkSSR in September It was written in the s and submitted for possible publication to Znamya magazine around October
Interweaving a transfixing account of the battle of Stalingrad with the story of a single middle-class family, the Shaposhnikovs, scattered by fortune from Germany to Siberia, Vasily Grossman fashions an immense, intricately detailed tapestry depicting a time of almost unimaginable horror and even stranger hope. Life and Fate juxtaposes bedrooms and snipers' nests, scientific laboratories and the Gulag, taking us deep into the hearts and minds of characters ranging from a boy on his way to the gas chambers to Hitler and Stalin themselves. This novel of unsparing realism and visionary moral intensity is one of the supreme achievements of modern Russian literature. Table of Contents:. Rate this book - very good good not so good poor very poor. Life And Fate. Grossman Vasily.