Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont's Reviews > Life and Fate

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman
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Jun 20, 10

it was amazing

What an astonishing book Life and Fate is; what an astonishing man Vasily Grossman must have been. I’ve already written a partial assessment of this literary masterpiece on my Ana the Imp blog, a post I headed The Grand Inquisitor, which focused on the contents of a single chapter, one I had just finished, one that literally winded me, both intellectually and emotionally. Well, now I’ve finished the whole novel and it captivated me from beginning to end; captivated me with its intensity, its range, its breadth and depth of vision; captivated me with it’s simple humanity.

I’ve heard other novels likened to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, most recently The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell, a grossly overrated and at points unbelievably dull book. But Life and Fate, with no exaggeration at all, can truly be said to stand in the same literary pantheon as Tolstoy’s panorama; that Grossman found the voice of the Great Patriotic War as Tolstoy found that of the Patriotic War. It’s the kind of novel that I believe only comes once in a generation, perhaps once in a century.

I’m not surprised that it was ‘arrested’ because I do not thank I’ve ever read a more damning expose of the moral corruption at the core of the Stalinist state, at the core of all totalitarianism. Grossman was right- absolute truth is the most beautiful thing of all. And absolute truth was the one thing the whole Soviet system, even after Stalin, could never allow, never admit. I’m truly grateful that the attempt to suppress this wonderful book was a failure.

I love Russian literature and this is a uniquely Russian book. But Life and Fate is more; it’s a work of insight, empathy and understanding, one that transcends all limits, all boundaries and all nationalities.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Tanuj (new) - added it

Tanuj Solanki Ana: you might want to remove the mention of the word absolute in the third para. It kind of confuses the reader with a metaphysical construct, which it is not intended to be here. Just a suggestion.


Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont Thank you, Tanju; I appreciate that. But it was Grossman himself who used the expression 'absolute truth'. On that basis I think it should stand, though that is not a form of words that I would have chosen myself.


message 3: by Tanuj (new) - added it

Tanuj Solanki Right.

I'm very keen on reading this book. Have heard a lot about it in the last two years.

The New Yorker was raving about BBC's 9 hour radio adaptation of the book. Have you heard about it? They say it is some piece of art in itself.


Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont I listened to it at the time! Yes, it was very good.


Andrea Ratti Finally someone that makes a connection with The Kindly Ones!


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