Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 19

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 19
Photo by Ankhesenamun / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 1, Chapter 19, is part of The Slavic Literature Pod’s chapter a day read along of Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate. Learn more about our project here.

In the aftermath of the terrible, final letter from his mother, our point-of-view returns to a Viktor whose doubts about his work are now coming to the fore. After all, as he thinks: “The century of Einstein and Planck was also the century of Hitler. The Gestapo and the scientific renaissance were children of the same age. … There is a terrible similarity between the principles of Fascism and those of contemporary physics.” (p. 94)

Perhaps, he thinks, this is not chance but rather a natural relationship. After all, the physics of his time is based on greater and lesser probabilities; he posits that Fascism works in the same manner, also reducing its treatment of humanity to greater and lesser probabilities. 

Viktor is not entirely without hope though, thinking that if the Fascist forces could be crushed, those who have submitted to it could once again return to their humanity. This is a curious point because — as Viktor notes — he’s giving ground in an argument he’d had in the predecessor novel Stalingrad