Life and Fate (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Vasily Grossman died of cancer in the Soviet Union in 1964. His novel Life and Fate was composed over a period of ten years, from 1950 to 1960, and is his most ambitious work, but was never published during his lifetime. At the height of the “thaw”—the period of partial de-Stalinization under Nikita Khrushchev—Grossman took his thick manuscript to Vadim Kozhevnikov, editor in chief of the review Znamia (banner), which in the past had published much of his work. For some time nothing was heard from the editorial board; indeed, the board had taken it upon itself to send the manuscript directly to the Lubyanka Prison. (Ironically, the Lubyanka is the setting for some of the events in the second half of the novel.) Grossman’s apartment was visited by the police; it was thoroughly searched for every carbon copy, handwritten script, notes, even old typewriter ribbons. Everything was confiscated. Grossman sought an explanation from the Central Committee, still hoping that the manuscript would be returned. He finally met with one of the committee’s members, the ideologist and theoretician Mikhail Suslov, who told him: “We are not about to discuss with you whether the October Revolution was a good thing. As to your book, it could not be published for three hundred years.” Until his death, Grossman continued to revise sections of the book in his mind, even though he no longer possessed a single page. Indeed, at the time of his death he thought...
(The entire section is 2139 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Commentary. LXXXI, April, 1986, p. 39.
Library Journal. CXI, March 1, 1986, p. 108.
Listener. CXIV, September 26, 1985, p. 31.
The London Review of Books. VII, September 19, 1985, p. 3.
National Review. XXXVIII, June 6, 1986, p. 53.
The New Republic. CXCIV, May 5, 1986, p. 34.
New Statesman. CX, November 15, 1985, p. 30.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, March 9, 1986, p. 1.
The Observer. September 29, 1985, p. 23.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIX, January 24, 1986, p. 63.
Times Literary Supplement. November 22, 1985, p. 1315.
World Literature Today. LIX, Winter, 1985, p. 46.
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