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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. 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 Fateis 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 @DOWNLOAD KINDLE è Жизнь и судьба ⚜ 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 Zhizn i sadba Life and Fate a novel Stalingrad 2 , Vasily GrossmanLife and Fate Russian 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 criticises Stalinism 1999 1377 919 9644353102 1386 9789644483660 20 1941 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. 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. 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 The past, as they say, is a foreign country and also aliterate one.The USSR in the first half of the twentieth century was a place where a father would worry about which poets were read by his daughter s boyfriend, a place where you might still love someone despite their inability to distinguish Balzac from Flaubert and where a soldier on the front line of one of the most dreadful military conflicts in history would complain that their comrade in arms did not properly understand Chekov.The USSR at that time was also a place where the individual s relation to the State was at its most complex and paradoxical At the same time that the State was organizing one of the greatest collective endeavors in history the defeat of Fascism it was also interrogating the history, family life and motivations of each and every individual engaged in that endeavor Every relationship officer to commissar, husband to wife, parent to child, between friends, between colleagues, between lovers was colored by fear of informers, fear of compromise, fear of arrest.Grossman expertly describes life in the USSR at that time and incorporates its paradoxes into this novel of the Russian victory at Stalingrad His is a voice of real authenticity The events depicted and internal hopes and fears of the characters are entirely consistent with descriptions of life in the USSR from The Gulag Archipelago or from histories of the Eastern Front in WW2 You can only believe that Grossman himself experienced many of the things he describes Life and Fate is about two types of human freedom I was expecting to read about the battle between Russian and German armies over the physical freedom from occupation of Stalingrad Until I read the work I had not appreciated it was equally about the struggle for psychological freedom under an oppressive, totalitarian State The battle for this freedom of the self, illustrated by the story of a Russian professor of physics who is fearful of arrest, isgripping than the military battle havingtwists and turns and a far less certain outcome I don t want to give too much of the story away, so would only say that this psychological battle is swayed by an extraordinarily powerful weapon whose intervention on the front line I never expected.Undoubtedly a long book, but fascinating and easy to read Essential for anyone with an interest in the Russian history of the twentieth century. 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. 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