Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 34

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 34
Photo by Samartha J V / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 1, Chapter 34, 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.

What is there to say about grief? You have grieved; you will grieve. The experience is universal and yet as personal as a fingerprint. 

This range is a tapestry that Grossman weaves skillfully, bringing us the Shaposhnikov family in grief. Each has their own, characteristic reaction. This story — at least this part of it — is Lyudmila’s, though. Now outside her head, the narration implies to us that she maintains the fantasy of a Tolya yet untouched by the grave. 

Much like her meeting with the hospital commissar, she dwells in the news with her family still staring at them with “bright, wide-open, light blue eyes.” (p. 147). We understand that this calm masks the mental state underneath.