The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays (New York Review Books Classics)
Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler
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The Road brings together short stories, journalism, essays, and letters by Vasily Grossman, the author of Life and Fate, providing new insight into the life and work of this extraordinary writer. The stories range from Grossman’s first success, “In the Town of Berdichev,” a piercing reckoning with the cost of war, to such haunting later works as “Mama,” based on the life of a girl who was adopted at the height of the Great Terror by the head of the NKVD and packed off to an orphanage after her father’s downfall. The girl grows up struggling with the discovery that the parents she cherishes in memory are part of a collective nightmare that everyone else wishes to forget. The Road also includes the complete text of Grossman’s harrowing report from Treblinka, one of the first anatomies of the workings of a death camp; “The Sistine Madonna,” a reflection on art and atrocity; as well as two heartbreaking letters that Grossman wrote to his mother after her death at the hands of the Nazis and carried with him for the rest of his life.
Meticulously edited and presented by Robert Chandler, The Road allows us to see one of the great figures of twentieth-century literature discovering his calling both as a writer and as a man.
Written in 1934; first published in Literaturnaya gazeta (April 2, 1934). * pointed Budyonny helmet: Semyon Budyonny (1883–1973) was a hero of the Russian civil war. His name was given to a helmet worn by Red Army soldiers between 1918 and 1921. * voluntary working Saturdays: There was a Soviet tradition of voluntary working Saturdays (subbotniki). Lenin himself participated in the first all-Russian subbotnik (May 1, 1920), helping to clear building rubble from the Kremlin. These days soon
Guber, who was arrested and shot in 1937, and of Olga Mikhailovna, Vasily Grossman’s second wife. From 1937 Vasily Grossman was Fyodor’s official guardian and substitute father. Fyodor Guber is the author of a number of scientific papers about polymer mechanics, several articles about Vasily Grossman, and a selection of Grossman’s letters and biographical material titled Memory and Letters (Pamyat' i pis'ma)” Olga Mukovnikova is a freelance translator and a member of the Chartered Institute of
not taking any leave for five years on end, refusing all financial compensation—Semidolenko had said, “This fellow deceived us all. Behind the mask of a shock worker was hidden a sworn enemy of the people, an adept spy, working for a foreign State, who managed to penetrate to the very heart of our State farm.” Then the director’s secretary had taken the floor: only now, he declared, had he understood why Nevraev had stayed on alone at night in the repair-workshop office and why he had ordered
speaking so quietly. “What?” she asked. “Am I going to die?” She did not hear Rosalia Samoilovna’s answer. As for Beila, she was looking pale and lost. Standing in the doorway, shrugging her shoulders, she was saying, “Oy, oy, who needs all this? Who needs all this suffering? She doesn’t need it. Nor does the child. Nor does the father, drat him. Nor does God in his heaven. Whose clever idea was it to torment us like this?” The birth took many hours. When he got back from work, Magazanik sat
some of these night sounds filled him with terror and made him tremble and snort. Then came nausea again, and wooden ground slipping away from under his hooves, and a pale blue plain all around him. And then, somehow or other, even though he had barely taken a step, he was back in a stable again, with his workmate breathing heavily in the next stall. After the day of the flags and music, the day of the women and children and Niccolo’s trembling hands, the stable disappeared. In its place came