Life and Fate: Part 1
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Maybe I'll learn a little about the English transcriptions as well ;-)
"Victor (Pavlovich) Shtrum is the central figure in Grossman's novel.
... Victor Shtrum is a "self portrait" of Grossman himself.
Lyudmila is married to Victor Shtrum and has a daughter with him named Nadya.
Anna Semyonovna is Victor's mother.
Abarchuk is Lyudmila's first husband.
Tolya is Lyudmila's and Abarchuk's son.
I've reached chapter 17 of part I, and I assume I'll learn much more about this family and the Shaposhnikov family (Lyudmila's family I think) soon.
I was confused in some early chapters when twice there were what I thought were dream sequences, but then they shifted to reality. Did I miss something? Was anyone else confused? I'll be more specific if you need me to. Right now it's waaayyyy past my bedtime and I need to put Life and Fate to bed.
ETA: Never mind--it was in the introduction.
Then in chapter 12, (my page 50) Krymov dreams of "lying in a room with closed blinds, watching a patch of sunlight..." It does say he opened his eyes, but the scene still has a dreamlike quality to it, and I thought he was dreaming through all of it, but then it becomes apparent he isn't.
Even going back to these scenes and re-reading, I find it a bit confusing. Anyone else?
I read ch. 18 (Anna Semjonovna's letter to her son Viktor (Vitja, Vitenka, Vitka) Pavlovitsj Strum) yesterday. What a heart-rending chapter!
I'm somewhere around page 200 and still have not met all the characters yet.
Grossman was certainly a passionate writer. I've read the chapters of the journey to the gas chambers, talk about heart breaking. And then he steps out of the story and writes, essentially, an essay about how, why something like this horror could happen. I think I will be returning to chapter 50 again and again.
>9 cabegley: that's an interesting question to ponder. How would one take on such an epic and keep all the characters straight? It's so seamlessly woven together.
>14 technodiabla: Hard as it is to picture, I think we can never say never. It's happened in too many countries (and is going on today) to think that we would be exempt. A frightening thought, though.
This happens every single day here in the States on talk radio. Us vs them. Never before have the hatemongers had such a big podium to spread hatred, lies and misinformation. If the US were to plunge into a major Depression, I can see something like this happening here. A little too easily, imo. Look at the after effects of 9/11 -- in this country, every male from a Middle Eastern country (except Israel, of course) was required to register with the federal government. We still have a number of white supremacists here who carry out acts of violence and spread hatred and fear. Yes, we've come a long way to name racism and even to heal from it a bit, but we are definitely not exempt.
What about you folks from other countries? What's the political climate like in Norway these days kjellika?
For the last 30-40 years the immigration to Norway has been rather extensive, but I think the immigrants have integrated without many difficulties.
Some problems of course, but not big ones. Fortunately I've heard very little of violence and hatred so far.
I assume elder people (older than me, of course) dislike the immigration more than younger people do. Just a feeling, and not so curious if you imagine there were VERY few Africans, Arabs a.o. in Norway 40-50 years ago. In 1960 Norway was a quite homogeneous country.
You might see:
I'm taking a break for a couple of days and reading a couple other books. I need a breather.
A great novel so far, and I'm learning much about WWII that I didn'n know.
Very interesting characters and an exciting story.
I'll start on part 2 the day after tomorrow. I assume.
Definitely teelgee. What surprised me about this is the humour in some of the sections. God, he's good a characterisation as well. It's a really quick read actually for me. I'm surprised. I thought it would be one of those that you wade through (in a pleasurable fashion) but his style is very different from my imaginings. Only about half way through the first sections so I'll be back.
ETA I haven't started back up with Part 2 yet. I think I need a week in between parts.
Russian Social-Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist Russian political party formed in 1898 to unite the various revolutionary organizations into one party. The RSDLP later split into Bolshevik and Menshevik factions in 1903, with the Bolsheviks eventually becoming the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Mensheviks are more moderate than Bolsheviks in their socialist tendencies.
The 1917 Revolution (February Revolution) overthrew the Czar the the Mensheviks controlled the Provisional Government. The following October Revolution the Bolsheviks led by Lenin (The Red Army) overthrew the Provisional Government and took control somewhat savagely. The Soviet Communist Party grew out of this after many years in civil unrest.
More details at:
This link has more info on Stalin's Rule (not really as Lenin planned) and the 1921 split up of the non-Russian territories that became the USSR.
A kulak is an affluent peasant. They suffered under Stalin, who insisted they integrate into a classless system and give up property ownership.
And I am (almost) sure you'll become much more familiar with the characters as you read part 2. At least I did. Good luck!!! :))
I agree that there are some extremely moving scenes through the expression of compassion, violence, hurt, misunderstandings... but the thread between those scenes is so tenuous that the mood is immediately broken. Despite all of those pages, so many questions are left unanswered too: why did no one like Tolya except his mother (besides the fact he was an illegitimate son), whatever happened to the little boy David on train (presumably killed, but it would be nice to know), where is Yevgenia now that she has her ration card? I was attentively noting all the characters but there are so many, and they disappear so quickly, I've given up.
I understand Grossman wants to give a full account of the various views and political complexities in the USSR, but really... couldn't it be better a little tidier? I'll put it down to the fact that it was a first, unedited, draft. I'm reading this as a series of intertwined short stories - it seems to make more sense to me that way and I can more fully enjoy the impact of the powerful emotionally wrought scenes that appear here and there.
Regarding Tolya, I don't think the others didn't like him--I think Lyudmila is hyper-aware that Tolya is Viktor's stepson, and projects that he is seen as lesser by the rest of the family. Viktor and Lyudmila's inability to communicate with one another, and their misinterpretation of each other's feelings and motivations, is a thread that runs through the book.
You will get back to David and Yevgenia eventually.
"As he overcame the enemy resistance, the advancing soldier had perceived everything separately: a shell-burst here, a rattle of machine-gun fire there, an enemy soldier there, hiding behind that shelter and about to run...He can't not run---he's cut off from that isolated piece of artillery, that isolated machine-gun, that isolated soldier blazing away beside him. But I -- I am we, I am the mass of infantry going into the attack, I am the supporting tanks and artillery, I am the flare lighting up our common cause. And then suddenly I am alone -- and everything that was isolated and weak has fused into a solid roar of enemy rifle-fire, machine-gun fire, and artillery fire. This united enemy is now invincible; the only safety lies in my flight, in hiding my head, in covering my shoulders, my forehead, my jaw..." How beautifully written is that?
What a difference; reading this and reading War and Peace at the same time. War and Peace is actually relaxing after this. Right now at the beginning of the book there is so much happening in so many different places all at the same time.
It is sad, depressing, painful to read, but exciting at the same time.
I recall reading that this book is much better than Doctor Zhivago but I am finding it difficult to compare the two. Doctor Zhivago is about people in the Russian Revolution and in a totally different space. Life and Fate is about WWII with mainly Russian people living and involved in that time and space. So to me it is like comparing apples to avacados. Love them both though. And I am finding no down time in Love and Fate. It is a very intense book.