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4,5 von 5 Sternen

am 10. Februar 2006
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 The book could not be published for at least 200 years.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 but 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. Reportedly, Andrei Sakharov copied the manuscript onto microfiche and 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 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 the death 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 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.
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am 1. Februar 2012
Top purchase, Great book and I recommend it to anyone interested in Soviet history. Delivery was prompt and well packaged.
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am 15. Juli 2000
This is a very great novel, not merely because of what is depicted, but also because of the artistry of the depiction which, at different points, recalls Tolstoy and Chekhov.
There are things in this novel that most novelists, I imagine, would prefer not to depict so openly. A mother spends a night crying over the grave of her son; a Jewish lady, trapped in a ghetto, writes to her son about her certain and imminent death; a man is tortured in the Lubyanka; we even follow a group of Jews into the gas chamber itself. All this is, as it should be, harrowing, but Grossman is too honest to shirk any of it. The eventual impression, paradoxically, is of hope.
As with "War and Peace", this novel is on an epic scale, but the focus is always firmly on the individual characters, who are depicted with unfailing humanism and unsentimental compassion. There are only a small handful of novels that have moved me as intensely as this one has.
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am 26. Juni 1999
Don't be put off by the size of this book, once you are used to the cast of Russian names (thankfully the paperback includes a list of major characters) and the various sub-plots this book is extremly readable.
The main story is about the occupation of Stalingrad by the German army during World War II. Historical and fictional characters are mixed as the story of the Russian offensive of Winter 1942 is told.
All the subplots are linked by the Shaposhnikov family; Viktor a Moscow nuclear scientist being the main character. The various sub-plots include a Russian labour camp, Viktors fight against the authorities and his conscence and the harrowing story of a train load of Jews an the way to the gas chambers of Auswitz.
Along with Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle, Vasily Grossman has wrote a truly classic book about the injustice of Stalin's Russia, which you don't have to be an expert on Russian history to read.
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am 28. Januar 2000
I picked up this book in a used bookstore because I love Russian novelists. I had never heard of Grossman before and I expected possibly a good book, certainly a clever book, because even inferior Russian novelists are clever. However, the little hairs on the back of my neck went up when I began to read the first few pages. I realized after the first couple of chapters that I was not reading an adequate or even a diverting book--but AN ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE! The level of detail--of setting and character--is amazing, and the way in which Grossman takes situations which could be rendered with bathos or melodrama and makes them fresh takes the breath away. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's an achievement of the first order. I put it shoulder-to-shoulder with my favorite Russian writers: Nabokov, Gogol, Bulgakov, etc.
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am 20. März 2000
This book is still in print. In fact, I bought a copy from a competitor's web site because it wasn't listed here.
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am 24. Oktober 1997
Although I was initially intimidated by the size of this epic novel, I was soon swept up by the fascinating lives of its wide range of stars, all linked by a single family. A truly outstanding piece of Russian literature!
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