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Life and Fate (Stalingrad #2)

4.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,362 Ratings  ·  484 Reviews
This novel on the epic scale is a powerful, deeply moving and devastating depiction of a world torn apart by war and ideological tyranny. It is, as well, perhaps the most complete condemnation of totalitarianism to emerge from Russia, for the message that the Vasily Grossman—of Jewish origin and once an honored Soviet writer—delivers is that Stalinism and Nazism, in their ...more
Paperback, 864 pages
Published October 5th 2006 by Vintage Classics (first published 1960)
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Hendrik Mentz Possibly it was part of the BBC Radio 4 series that ran in 2011, accessible via Amazon as: 'Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised) Audio…morePossibly it was part of the BBC Radio 4 series that ran in 2011, accessible via Amazon as: 'Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised) Audio Download – Original recording' >> | Hopefully the URL I copy and pasted displayed and/or is alive.(less)
James Fitzpatrick I haven't read For a Just Cause myself, I'm not sure if it's been translated yet, but I found Life and Fate to be perfectly readable without having…moreI haven't read For a Just Cause myself, I'm not sure if it's been translated yet, but I found Life and Fate to be perfectly readable without having read For a Just Cause.
They are effectively separate entities, although I imagine that For a Just Cause would provide backstories for some of the major characters. From what I've read, For a Just Cause was very much a Social Realist novel and is much more conformist in tone and style than Life and Fate. Indeed, it is seemingly in Life and Fate that the characters become more than one dimensional vehicles for broadcasting Stalinist ideals, although that might be a bit harsh.(less)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Best Russian Literature
39th out of 390 books — 1,652 voters
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovDoctor Zhivago by Boris PasternakOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr SolzhenitsynWe by Yevgeny ZamyatinHeart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov
Best Russian (Soviet 1917-1991) Literature
9th out of 161 books — 191 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 02, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: William Beavers
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 wit more empathy 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 t
Jul 09, 2016 William1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Szplug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 a ...more
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
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 ran ...more
orsodimondo (a zonzo)
Jul 16, 2016 orsodimondo (a zonzo) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
Così avrebbe detto Tolstoj se avesse potuto leggere Vita e destino.
Qui non si va a zonzo, sono pagine con peso specifico, importanti.
Da anni, molti, non leggevo un libro così.

Così bello, così denso, così esigente, così ricco.
Arrivato a metà, 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 n
Dec 21, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian-novels
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
Feb 15, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The worst reviews, in my humble opinion, are those that begin with this sentence: I really wanted to like this book? Oh? This confounds me? Who starts to read a book that they hope they will not like? Do people really open books they hope will appall them, torture them with typos and improbable plots, confuse them with experimental mazes of style and drown them in gibberish? Isn't every book we start one we hope will be the greatest ever? What kind of twisted reader DOESN'T WANT TO LIKE A BOOK?

May 19, 2016 julieta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sin duda es uno de los libros más hermosos que he leído en mi vida. Cuando uno se pregunta, (de vez en cuando) por qué leer? Bueno, para encontrarte con libros como este.

Es sobre la batalla por Stalingrado, entre el Ejército Rojo (rusos) y el Aleman, en la segunda guerra mundial. Y muestra a distintos personajes que han sido afectados por esta guerra. Pero es más que eso, es que el autor tiene una empatía, un nivel de comprensión de cada una de las personas en distintas situaciones. Es como si
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 David Lentz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This masterpiece published by New York Review of Books Classics enters my Top 5 among novels by James Joyce (Ulysses), Proust (La Recherche du Temps Perdu), Tolstoy (War and Peace) and Gaddis (JR): it is pure genius in its epic scope. Inspired by Tolstoy's War and Peace and the siege of Russia by Napoleon, Grossman depicts the siege of Stalingrad by Hitler. Grossman narrates the epic from the perspectives of diverse players into whose lives the reader becomes immersed. The cast is vast and the R ...more
Having read War and Peace a couple of months ago in which Tolstoy pointed out already in the mid nineteenth century the role of accident and fate in the success of military campaigns, thus underlining their futility, I wondered how any European leader could ever have embarked on another takeover knowing the outcome of Napoleon's campaigns. But of course there was WWI and WWII as if nothing had been learned about trusting Emperor style dictators driven by monstrous personal ambition; after Napole ...more
Nov 16, 2015 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, russia
In questo romanzo fiume sono narrati il destino della grande madre Russia e le vite di tanti suoi cittadini, tutti segnati dai combattimenti durissimi che si svolsero a Stalingrado, lungo le rive del Volga, dall’estate del 1942 al febbraio del 1943, tra i soldati dell’Armata Rossa e l’esercito nazista, passati alla storia come “la battaglia di Stalingrado”. Da quel momento, con la vittoria sofferta dell’esercito sovietico, non solo il destino della seconda guerra mondiale ebbe una svolta, inizia ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mother-rus
This review was constructed while drinking. Pub Guinness veered into Sierra Nevada Torpedo at home. Yo La Tengo kept pushing immediate questions: why not, why not? Why isn't Life and Fate a fucking rock star on goodreads?

Apparently such matters don't work in translation, well, unless it is Murakami or Bolano. I do find that rather akimbo, disjointed silences on germans and russians while YAs run amok. I did note that TWO of my coworkers are reading 50 Shades.

No, the novel isn't a streamlined ma
Maru Kun
The past, as they say, is a foreign country and also a more literate 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.

Jan 29, 2016 Bruno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lettura terminata sono andato a ripescare il mio libro di storia del liceo per verificare quanto effettivamente dicesse sulla battaglia di Stalingrado. Questo è quanto ho trovato:

In agosto i tedeschi iniziarono l'assedio di Stalingrado, sul Volga, punto nodale della difesa russa nel settore sud-est e città simbolo che portava il nome di Stalin. Nel novembre '42, dopo mesi di durissimi combattimenti, strada per strada, casa per casa, i sovietici contrattaccarono efficacemente sui fianchi dello
Aug 02, 2015 Cosimo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Figli del passato

“Perché le loro sorti erano così ingarbugliate, così oscure?”

Questo libro uscì dai confini dell'Unione sovietica in pagine microfilmate contenute in una scatola trasportata da una ricercatrice austriaca vicina agli ambienti dei dissidenti e degli oppositori al regime; il manoscritto su cui Vassilij Grossman aveva lavorato dieci anni era stato infatti sequestrato dalla polizia politica di Cruscev e condannato perché antisovietico all'esilio in patria, alla cancellazione permanent
Mar 30, 2016 Ray rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I really liked this book

It is softer and less ideological than other Soviet literature I have read from this time - I can certainly see why it was banned

It uses the backdrop of the battle of Stalingrad to explore the interlinked lives of an extended family and the people they come into contact with

There are parallels with War and Peace which I am sure was the authors intention

Warning - a bit of a brick at 850+ pages - not a quick read
Jul 08, 2015 Paolo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chiedo il permesso a Piperitapitta di utilizzare la sua immagine - efficacissima - del foro nel vetro e della ramificazione delle fratture.

Quanto lontano arrivano quelle crepe e quanto grande è il vetro del "foro - Stalingrado" ?

Arrivano di sicuro fino a noi e fino ad oggi, che ne siamo consapevoli o no.

Buona parte della grandezza di Vita e Destino consiste nel farci comprendere in maniera profonda e definitiva l'importanza storica della vittoria di Stalingrado per le sorti della seconda guerra,
Nov 30, 2011 Helen rated it it was amazing
If you are interested in the history of the 20th Century, Life and Fate is a necessary read. A tapestry of World War II Russia, it weaves together story lines that take place in Stalingrad, in prison camps, on battlefields, on airfields, in big cities and small towns. The cast of characters, including imprisoned generals, political hacks, young and middle-aged lovers, Jews terrified of both the Nazis and the growing anti-Semitism in their own society, courageous old women and frightened soldiers ...more
Dec 28, 2007 Francisco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: clasicos, novela, rusos
¿Cómo calificar esta novela? Mastodóntica, brutal, cruel, maravillosa, delicada, con la vida latiendo en cada una de sus páginas.
Retrato de un tiempo cruel, en el que el pálido reflejo de dos sistemas crudelísimos se enfrentan por una hegemonía violenta sobre el mundo, y en el que una multitud de personajes se enfrenta a sus miedos, sus ambiciones, sus deseos, la vida y la muerte.
De verdad, es magistral. Y cuando se conoce la historia de la publicación de la novela, se nos hace más grande todaví
May 23, 2015 Giovanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Era strano percorrere quel corridoio dritto come un fuso mentre la sua vita era così contorta, un intrico di sentieri, fossi, paludi, ruscelli, polvere della steppa e grano non trebbiato da scansare o attraversare... Il destino, invece, era lineare, dritto, fatto di corridoi e di porte...

Comincio dalla fine (tranquilli, niente spoiler): 1960. È la data posta a conclusione del romanzo, quella che ci dice in che anno questa poderosa opera è stata conclusa. È una data che attesta tutto il coraggio
Sep 19, 2011 Zina rated it it was amazing
In a way it's silly putting stars on a book like this - a book that was arrested, whose author never saw it published, and which is now, once again, persona non grata in Russia because Stalin is being rehabilitated. Nobody who is a Goodreads member can have had to make the decisions facing Grossman's characters, deal with the moral compromises, the equivocations, the desperate need to survive, all the while second guessing who might prevail next, who might be an ally, who should be supported and ...more
Dec 27, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
Well, I couldn't take any more of John Keay's "dynastic kaleidoscope," for the moment at least. I closed his "China: A History" after reading a paragraph on the succession of four "dynasties," i.e. claimants of the Mandate of Heaven, in northern China in the fifth or sixth century AD over the course of one year.
So what do I do? It's back to the Eastern Front of WWII - this time with Vasily Grossmann's "Life and Fate," a fully engaging novel, of which I read very few. Stalingrad - now that was a
Aug 09, 2015 Simona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Vita e destino" è uno di quei libri che non si dimenticano facilmente, che ti entrano dentro, ti scorticano la pelle fino a sanguinarla e farti male lasciandoti a pezzi sperando che qualcuno ti raccolga.
E' un romanzo difficile, una riflessione amara, dolorosa sul male e le sue conseguenze.
Grossman analizza in maniera attenta, precisa, dettagliata la battaglia di Stalingrado, il periodo della lotta al totalitarismo e al nazismo.
Durante la lettura, il lettore vive con i personaggi la vita del l
Aug 07, 2015 Gabriele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A voler fare una recensione di questo libro verrebbe fuori un altro libro, tanti sono gli aspetti toccati, al di là delle vicende storiche. Sullo sfondo della seconda guerra mondiale Grossman indaga sulla natura umana, mettendo in campo decine di personaggi alle prese con un avvenimento che ne mette a dura prova comportamenti, umanità, senso di sopravvivenza e di appartenenza a una comunità; una comunità, quella russa, fissata su rigide imposizioni mascherate da libertà che solo chi l'ha vissuta ...more
Philippe Malzieu
May 02, 2014 Philippe Malzieu rated it it was amazing
Literature and poetry are part of Russian DNA. We can be astonished not to have the great Russian novel on the Second World War. However the matter exists and obviously Stalingrad. The answer is rather simple: the Stalinist purgings killed or exiled much writers. The Second World War finished the work.
When we think of the Russian literature after WWII, we have either poor socialist realistic account, or novel on Gulag. However, the great novel on this period exists , it is this one.
It was a lege
Raül De Tena
Jul 25, 2008 Raül De Tena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Uno de mis profesores de cine decía que en toda película cualquier plano, cualquier escena, cualquier imagen, cualquier diálogo ha de estar plenamente justificado. No es que hablara de despojar la narración hasta el esqueleto. Más bien criticaba esa tendencia de algunos autores a incluir en sus obras elementos "porque sí", "porque queda bien", "porque me apetece"... Sin tener en cuenta que estas elecciones a veces no suman, sino que restan.

¿A qué viene toda esa parrafada al hablar de Vida y dest
A stunning work of literature. This will go on my favourites shelf.
Apr 01, 2016 SurferRosa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europea
Vita e destino è un'opera grandiosa, un inno alla libertà e alla vita contro ogni totalitarismo, un'opera che per la sua natura, nell'ambiente e negli anni in cui venne scritta, ha inevitabilmente vissuto una difficilissima gestazione ed è stata destinata ad una travagliata storia editoriale, un'opera che afferma il diritto di ogni essere umano ad essere sé stesso, rivendicando la propria diversità e unicità. E' anche l'opera dell'eroismo e dell'enorme sacrificio del popolo russo che combattè e ...more
Jan 08, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We tend to be so overwhelmed by the nineteenth century Russian novel that we tend to ignore the literature of Soviet Russia during the twentieth century. Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman is one book that almost never made it out of Russia, which would have been a tragedy. It was suppressed for years and finally made it to the West in a typewritten samizdat manuscript sprinkled with lacunae. Grossman was at Stalingrad during the siege and knew many of the Russian military officers, including Gene ...more
Justin Evans
Sep 25, 2013 Justin Evans rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

Dear self,

what is the most that you've ever done to get your words published? I know you're sometimes forced to edit things into shape, and that you find that a little annoying, because honestly, if these fools don't recognize your genius, do they deserve to have your name so close to theirs? But really, if you want to publish x, you can always throw it on goodreads or into a series of facebook posts and at least a few people will read it.

So, what right do you have to criticize this book, wr
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русс: Василий Гроссман

Born Iosif Solomonovich Grossman into an emancipated Jewish family, he did not receive a traditional Jewish education. A Russian nanny turned his name Yossya into Russian Vasya (a diminutive of Vasily), which was accepted by the whole family. His father had social-democratic convictions and joined the Mensheviks. Young Vasily Grossman idealistically supported the Russian Revo
More about Vasily Grossman...

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“Good men and bad men alike are capable of weakness. The difference is simply that a bad man will be proud all his life of one good deed - while an honest man is hardly aware of his good acts, but remembers a single sin for years on end.” 92 likes
“I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never by conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil, struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.” 56 likes
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