Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 50

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 50
Photo by the blowup / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 1, Chapter 50, 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.

While the novel we are journeying through might seem large, there are still virtually no number of pages that could detail all of the atrocities committed during the scope of time that the novel covers. This chapter, Grossman probes a difficult question: how? 

He argues that many direct atrocities are carried out as a result of a self-preservation instinct. But, this isn’t quite that. What the novel describes is something more systematic and sinister. In this case, “It is necessary to prepare the population by means of a special campaign. And in this case it is not enough to rely merely on the instinct for self-preservation; it is necessary to stir up feelings of real hatred and revulsion,” (p. 213). Instead, Grossman points to the increasingly pervasive role of ideology as it comes to dominate the twentieth century. Not only does it co-opt our instinct for self-preservation, but ideology molds it, gives it a clear purpose.