Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 5

This post, covering Part 1, Chapter 5, 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.

The moment that may stand out most to you in this chapter is the lacuna, evidently an omission in Grossman’s draft, which marks a drastic shift in tone. Much of the chapter covers how the various prisoner nationalities — despite being divided by language — manage to describe and commiserate over their common experiences. 

But then, in the last two paragraphs after the lost section, Grossman characterizes Red army soldiers as unable to truly understand each other despite their many commonalities. 

“And in this silence,” Grossman writes,  “of the dumb and these speeches of the blind, in this medley of people bound together by the same grief, terror and hope, in this hatred and lack of understanding between men who spoke the same tongue, you could see much of the tragedy of the twentieth century.” (p.33)