The Years of War, by Vasiliy S. Grossman – 1946 [Unknown Artist]

the-years-of-war-vassili-grossman-1946-1 the-years-of-war-vassili-grossman-1946-2_edited-1 grossman-vasily-ds-600 The attached document – Vasiliy Grossman’s Commendation for The Order of the Red Star (Ordenu Krasnaya Zvezda – Ордену Красная Звезда) , dated 9 December 1942, was obtained from the Podvig Naroda (Подвиг Народа – Feats of the People) website.  This document specifically mentions Grossman’s works “The People are Immortal,” “The Battle of Stalingrad”, “Stalingrad Crossing”, and “Stalingrad Story”.  The English translation of the award citation can be found here.

Grossman’s experiences, recollections, and reporting during the Battle of Stalingrad formed a central basis for the setting and characters in his postwar novel, Life and Fate.

For a deeper understanding of the life and works of Vasiliy Grossman, I strongly recommend The Bones of Berdichev – The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman, by John Garrard and Carol Garrard (The Free Press, 1996), and A Writer At War – Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945, by Anthony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova (Pantheon Books, 2005).    

grossman-vasiliy-s-1a grossman-vasiliy-s-1b

Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman -1980, 1987 [Christopher Zacharow]

life-and-fate-vasily-grossman-1985-1987-christopher-zacharow-newThe fate of many of them seemed so poignantly sad
that to speak of them in even the most tender, quiet, kind words
would have been like touching a heart torn open
with a rough and insensitive hand. 

It was really quite impossible to speak of them at all..

grossman109_edited-2But an invisible force was crushing him.
He could feel its weight, its hypnotic power;
it was forcing him to think as it wanted, to write as it dictated.
This force was inside him;
it could dissolve his will and cause his heart to stop beating;
it came between him and his family;
it insinuated itself into his past, into his childhood memories.
He began to feel that he really was untalented and boring,
someone who wore out the people around him with dull chatter.
Even his work seemed to have grown dull,
to be covered with a layer of dust;
the thought of it no longer filled him with light and joy.
Only people who have never felt such a force themselves
can be surprised that others submit to it.
Those who have felt it, on the other hand,
feel astonished that a man can rebel against it even for a moment
– with one sudden word of anger,
one timid gesture of protest.