Life and Fate
Vasily GrossmanÂ Life and Fate
“On his way back to the airfield, Viktorov turned off towards the edge of the forest.
The squadron had been in reserve for a month, replacing men and material.
The Northern countryside seemed very strange to Viktorov. The life of the forest and the young river that wound between the steep hills, the smell of mushrooms and mould, the rustling of the trees were all somehow disturbing.
When he was flying, the various smells seemed to reach right up to his cabin. From forest and lakes came the breath of an old Russia Viktorov had previously only read about. Ancient tracks ran among these lakes and forests; houses and churches had been built from the tall upright trees; the masts of sailing ships had been hewn from them. The Grey Wolf had run through these forests. Alyonushka had stood and wept on the very bank along which Viktorov was now walking towards the mess. This vanished past seemed somehow simple-minded, youthful, naive; not only maidens in towers, but even the grey-bearded merchants, deacons and patriarchs seemed a thousand years younger than the worldly-wise young pilots who had come to this forest from a world of fast cars, machine-guns, diesal engines, radios and cinemas.”
Vasily Grossman Life and Fate translated by Robert Chandler pub. 1985 The Harvil Press – Life and Fate
Grossman working as a reporter for the army newspaper Red Star was an eyewitness to the story he tells of Soviet society during World War II in this epic novel completed in 1960 – before he died in 1964 he was told that it could not be published for at least 200 years but the manuscipt was smuggled to the West in 1980.
Grey Wolf and Alyonushka are allusions to Fairy tales collected by Alexander Afanasiev (1826-1871) – Both stories were illustrated by Ivan Bilibin in his famous Skazki childrens books -Â The Tale of Tsarevich Ivan, The Fire-Bird and Grey Wolf was published in 1901,Â Sister Alyonushka and Brother Ivanushka in 1903.