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Life And Fate [Format Kindle]

Vasily Grossman , Robert Chandler

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From Publishers Weekly

Obviously modeled on War and Peace, this sweeping account of the siege of Stalingrad aims to give as panoramic a view of Soviet society during World War II as Tolstoy did of Russian life in the epoch of the Napoleonic Wars. Completed in 1960 and then confiscated by the KGB, it remained unpublished at the author's death in 1964; it was smuggled into the West in 1980. Grossman offers a bitter, compelling vision of a totalitarian regime where the spirit of freedom that arose among those under fire was feared by the state at least as much as were the Nazis. His huge cast of characters includes an old Bolshevik now under arrest, a physicist pressured to make his scientific discoveries conform to "socialist reality" and a Jewish doctor en route to the gas chambers in occupied Russia. Ironically, just as Stalingrad is liberated from the Germans, many of the characters find themselves bound in new slavery to the Soviet government. Yet Grossman suggests that the spirit of freedom can never be completely crushed. His lengthy, absorbing novelwhich rejected the compromises of a lifetime and earned its author denunciation and disgracetestifies eloquently to that spirit.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Grossman (1905-64) hoped that Life and Fate (1960), the sequel to his World War II novel In a Just Cause (Za Pra voe delo, 1954; no English translation), would appear in the USSR. Even dur ing the 1960s "thaw," that proved im possible. The translator compares the book to War and Peace , but it is closer to Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle in portraying a society that knows neither physical nor spiritual peace. Grossman uses one family's experiences of the months of the Stalingrad campaign to show the entire mad tapestry woven by Stalin and Hitler. Like Solzhenitsyn, he depicts laboratories, prisons, and the Soviet elite's uneasy privilege, but he also covers both sides of the front and follows Jews to the gas chambers. This sprawling, uneven novel is wrenching, and compelling in its portrait of loyal citizens who repel the Nazi invaders only to face renewed repression at home. Mary F. Zirin, Altadena, Cal.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1535 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 906 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage Digital (30 avril 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0099560631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099560630
  • ASIN: B004VS866M
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
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Amazon.com: 4.7 étoiles sur 5  151 commentaires
223 internautes sur 229 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A great novel that stays with us, the reality of the USSR at war 15 août 2006
Par Tony Thomas - Publié sur Amazon.com
I confess Life and Fate devoured me. Tuesday, I had to stop work, stop my normal schedule, stop answering the telephone, and read it. And this was not my first, but my second time through its pages.

Life and Fate's main action takes place from the fall of 1942 until the spring of 1943. It reaches forward in history to the 1950s and reaches back to the Bolshevik revolution itself. it covers every aspect of the Soviet-German war from Stalin and Hitler's offices, to devastated huts inhabited by soldiers and refugees, from the halls of the scientific academies to the dark quarters of the Gulag and the gas chambers of the Nazi death camps.

While there is a lot of action in this book in the smoke and fire of Stalingrad, in the dungeons of Stalin's prisons, and in the death camps of Hitler , the strength of this book is how it covers an important part of history, but also shows the life, loves, yearnings, hearts and minds of real people struggling through the Second World War in the Soviet Union.

Grossman's political target is what he calls the "totalitarian" State. He sees symmetry between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Mostly he frames Nazi Germany as being identical to the Stalinist Soviet Union, a depiction that harms the accuracy of his depiction of Germany. Like many around the world of his generation, Grossman asserts the strength of the human spirit and the struggle for freedom and socialism against these twin horrors. Yet, Grossman appears too much in awe of Stalin and Hitler, and does not realize that their brutality flowed from their weaknesses, not strength.

Even people I know who should know better, see the heroic defense of the Russian Revolution's conquests against Hitler only through the fantasies produced by Stalinist propaganda. Grossman shows you how this fight was muzzled by Stalin's regime whose abominations did not cease, but grew during the Second World War. Grossman points to the growth of Russian Chauvinism, anti-Semitism, oppression and prejudice against non-Russian nationalities throughout the war.

While he depicts the bravery of the Red Army, Grossman is honest about its real character. We see its brutality--generals slapping and beating up subordinate officers and soldiers, NKVD officers persecuting generals for military decisions, a commissar plans to have heroic frontline soldiers completely surrounded by the Germans disciplined for living in a spirit of equality between officers and men, behind it all Stalin threatening to and sometimes imprisoning or executing generals. We see the corruption of the most celebrated of Red Army commanders: with their special privileges in food and drink, their pastime of preying sexually on women attached to their armies, and their concern for their own fame, and their reveling in Stalin's readoption of the regalia and customs of Tsarist militarism. We see the way science is subordinated to the bureaucracy's whims and how integrity and survival are in conflict in Stalinist Russia.

For many in the USSR the idea of Soviet victory brought forth dreams of a better day for the peoples of the Soviet Union, but the Stalinist bureaucracy had to break those dreams had to be broken and the dreamers throttled. Grossman gives you the feeling of the dreams for socialist democracy, the end of forced collectivization, and scientific freedom held by his characters and their friends are crushed by the Stalin regimes growing persecution, by its growing identification with the rotten legacy of Tsarist racism, discrimination, and prejudice.

Vasily Grossman was in a position to know. A former engineer who became a writer in the 1930s, he was one of the greatest war correspondents of the Soviet Army. His realistic depictions of the war made him widely popular with the front line troops and allowed his articles and dispatches to carry grimy accurate truth that the censors removed from the work of other correspondents.

Vasily Grossman was one of the first correspondents to document that Nazi extermination of the Jews. His article "The Hell of Treblinka" in _A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945_, a collection of his war correspondence and diaries, is one of the great works of modern literature. The passages in Life and Fate on the death camps rise to this level of brilliance, truth, and beauty.

Likewise, Life and Fate has a marvelous chapter modeled after the murder of the tens of thousand of Jews in the town where Grossman was born, the town where his mother lived and died during the war, the chapter centered on a character modeled on the Grossman's mother. Like so much in this book, this chapter could stand on its own as a masterpiece.

But a great novelist like Grossman must do more than teach history. He must give us characters we care about well enough to struggle its many pages with.

Grossman's characters are full humans, with flaws, with weaknesses, with needs, with enjoyment of little personal desires, with fears, and even crimes they perform to stay themselves. Somehow he can explain not only the hideousness of Stalinism and the terror of war, but the strength of our need for love from family, from colleagues, for romance.

What is missing is any full depiction of the USSR's everyday working class, its peasants, and its rank and file soldiers. All Grossman's major characters are military officers, industrial leaders, party functionaries, scientists, and intellectuals. To be sure, we see the suffering and struggle of ordinary soldiers, workers, and peasants as they cross the lives of his characters, but not through their own lives

Grossman was not allowed to finish this book from him. The NKVD took the book from him. He believed until he died that all the copies of the book had been destroyed. Fortunately, copies survived. One was smuggled out of the USSR and published after his death.

This book suffers from some of the normal problems of a final draft of a great novel has before being edited. In places it is too wordy, we do not know what happens to characters for long sections of the narrative, and Grossman's great digressions distract us from the narrative. For this we can blame the NKVD, not Grossman

Life and Fate is one the great works of Literature. It becomes part of your life beyond the moments its pages are in front of you. We develop such a strong feeling for the lives, hopes, and dreams of his characters that when we finish this book we cannot say "Farewell" to them. We think about their lives and struggles like we do our own. We need to revisit them by reading this book again.
93 internautes sur 94 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Vastly Rewarding - Grossman's Epic Exceeds Five Stars 27 novembre 2006
Par Douglas S. Wood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate, the classic epic novel of WWII Russia, centers on the Shaposhnikova family and their life in totalitarian Stalinist Soviet Russia, and in particular on the Battle of Stalingrad, but there are literally dozens of characters in a multitude of settings.

The tale is unrelentingly grim. Nearly every character dies, is betrayed to the Soviet authorities, or simply suffers - and no ordinary suffering, but genuine Slavic deprivation. With a few temporary exceptions, universal hunger and material deprivation prevail. Hunger ranges from ever-present to starvation. Political betrayal runs rampant across every class of Stalinist Soviet society with mind-boggling inefficiency. Grossman also describes the very beginnings of the Nazi Holocaust at Treblinka and other extermination camps, including a blood-chilling scene with Eichmann having dinner at the camp to celebrate its opening.

Grossman's characters engage in extensive internal dialogue about their suffering and especially about their political punishments. Grossman recreates the frustration of not knowing why one has been accused of infidelity to the Revolution. Often the victim doesn't know by whom or of what they have been accused.

Grossman was a decorated Soviet military journalist who moved gradually toward the dissidence that flowers in his epic novel. What is remarkable, and a matter of some debate today, is how Grossman ever imagined that his book would be published in the Soviet Union - as he proposed during the thaw under Nikita Khrushchev. Instead, while Grossman was not molested, his book was taken "under arrest" by the KGB in 1961. Fortunately, Grossman kept two undeclared copies that were smuggled out to the West in 1980 and published in 1985.

Life and Fate is not an easy book to read on several levels. It is long - some 871 pages. It is ceaselessly grim and gritty. Keeping track of the characters and various plot lines is a challenge (The book contains a handy listing of the main characters in an 8-page appendix. For the Western reader, the Russian surnames are hard to keep straight. I recommend keeping an extra bookmark in place at the Appendix). Grossman's characters engage in lengthy intellectual dialogue.

For some of these same reasons, the book is also vastly rewarding. As the excellent introduction to the New York Review of Books edition puts it, Life and Fate is "almost an encyclopedia of the complexities of life under totalitarianism" and the pressures brought to bear on the individual. Absolutely the highest recommendation. Five stars don't do it justice.
143 internautes sur 149 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant Thoughtful Work 19 juillet 2004
Par Lonya - Publié sur Amazon.com
Vasily Grossman submitted his manuscript for Life and Fate in 1960 at the height of Khrushchev's post-Stalinist cultural thaw. Subsequent to a review of the manuscript Grossman was advised that the book was being arrested. The book could not be published for at least 200 years. All copies of the manuscript were rounded up and sent to party headquarters for safekeeping. The manuscript was arrested because it dared to imply that Hitlerism and Stalinism bore more similarities than differences. Grossman made this point obliquely by putting these words into the mouth of a despicable SS death camp commandant. Nevertheless this was too much for both Khrushchev and the apparatchiks at the National Union of Writers and the book was banned. Life and Fate was eventually published because a manuscript remained at large. The author Vladimir Voinovich helped smuggle a copy to Switzerland where it was published in 1980, 15 years after Grossman's death in 1965. The book was published in the USSR in 1989 to sensational results. Nevertheless, Grossman remains relatively obscure outside Russia and that is a great pity.

Grossman was born in 1905. Although Jewish by birth, Grossman was never particularly religious and his family supported the 1917 revolution. After receiving a degree in chemistry Grossman found work in the Donbass coal mines. Encouraged by Maxim Gorky, Grossman began writing short stories and plays. Grossman adopted Stalin's maxim that writers were engineers of human souls and his work was firmly rooted in the rather tedious school of socialist realism. Grossman's play "If You Believe the Pythagoreans" attacked the philosophical rants of intellectuals and argued that they were garbage not "worth a good worker's boot." For all intents and purposes, Grossman was a true believer. How and why did this change? Life and Fate begins to answer that question.

Grossman volunteered for the front after the German invasion in 1941 and worked as a reporter for Red Star, an army newspaper known for its forthright reports from the front lines. Grossman received national fame due to his reporting from the front lines. Grossman was the first reporter to write first hand accounts of German concentration camps and his experience there had a devastating impact on his world view. Grossman learned after the war that his mother, who he failed to move from Berdichev to Moscow after the invasion perished in Hitler's genocide. It was the death of his mother and the post war anti-Semitic campaigns of Stalin that may have led Grossman to challenge his own acceptance of Soviet orthodoxy and set him to work on Life and Fate and his other major work, Forever Flowing.
Life and Fate is a remarkable novel despite its occasional unremarkable prose that contains a trace of Grossman's earlier socialist realism style. The book's emotional core involves humanity's struggle for freedom in an unfree world. Josef Skvorecky put the central question of Life and Fate thusly: "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."

The scope of the story and the cast of characters are vast and in the tradition of both Tolstoy and Pasternak. This edition contains a list of characters and their geographic location during the story. The central characters include Viktor Shtrum, a scientist, and his extended family. Other central figures include Captain Grekov, the leader of a group of soldiers doing battle with the Nazi's in a bombed out apartment building in Stalingrad. Grekov is an iconoclast doing battle not only with the Nazis but the political commissars that spent more time concerned with political orthodoxy than fighting. Key scenes in the book also take place in a German concentration camp and a Russian labor camp.

Life and Fate is a wonderful book. Grossman's assertion towards the end of his work that we can be slaves by fate but not slaves by nature is an important concept to keep a hold of today.

L. Fleisig
29 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Best Novel Ever - No Kidding! 14 avril 2005
Par J. McHenry - Publié sur Amazon.com
I've worked in used bookstores for more than fifteen years and have read voraciously for all of that time, and I hope you will believe me when I say that this is simply the best novel I've ever read. When you also consider that it is a translation, that's really saying something. The book is an easy read, the language is very straightforward, yet I was blown away every time I sat down to read it. The book entertains while being profoundly moral, like a Kurosawa film. Along with Lowry's Under The Volcano, with its fantastically beautiful prose (and serious shortage of plot), this sits at the very top of my stack. So don't let its length bother you - instead, be grateful that such a such a killer read isn't over too soon.
22 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 More on Life and Fate 13 septembre 2000
Par John and Carol Garrard - Publié sur Amazon.com
A splendid novel and a fine translation. Those who would like to learn more about the novel and its author, Vasily Grossman, might wish to check the biography we published: The Bones of Berdichev: The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman (Free Press, 1996). And for more about the Eastern Front, see a book we edited: World War 2 and the Soviet People (St. Martin's Press, 1993). Sadly, the first is out of print, and the second may be too. We are pleased so many readers share our high opinion of Grossman's novel and of the Russian achievement in defeating Nazi Germany, which Grossman chonicled as the leading Soviet frontline correspondent in the Second World War. His dispatches from Stalingrad, translated into English during the war (before he fell out of favor with the Soviet authorities), have been widely used in the West, usually without any acknowledgment of his authorship. And words he wrote are also inscribed inside the dome of the massive Soviet war memorial at Stalingrad, also without his name. It's good see that Vasily Grossman is at last getting some long overview credit and the attention of readers.
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