Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 48

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 48
Photo by Silas Baisch / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 1, Chapter 48, 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.

Every time we think of a memory, we change it. Small edits here and there. Perhaps its emotional color is altered upon recollection in a happier, sadder, madder time. I usually consider this beautiful in its own way, a testament to being alive — to the fact that our lives are ever changing. 

But, of course, this also means good memories can be colored more negatively, too. One time I think of being 14 in a friend’s garage, not yet afraid of full sugar soda and spending hours making a halloween costume with them. Then, later, once that friendship has been irrevocably broken, I think of being 14 in their garage again — except instead of my friend, there is now a hazy void, the compressed emotional energy of that day

Similarly, we dive further into David’s recollection of his grandmother’s town before the war; similarly, it is impossible to ignore how future events color this recollection. This much is obvious with a brief look into a childhood consumed with anxiety, with imagined yet still hungry beasts biting at his heels. 

“When he was feverish and delirious,” the narrator tells of us of this time, “he always had the same nightmare. He was lying on a sandy beach and tiny waves, no bigger than the smallest of little fingers, were tickling his body. Suddenly, on the horizon, appeared a blue mountain of water; it got bigger and bigger as it rushed silently towards him. David lay there on the warm sand; the dark blue mountain loomed over him. This was something even more terrible than the wolf and red dogs.” (p. 206)