Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 1

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 1
Photo by Kevin Woblick / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 1 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.

Perhaps humanity’s oldest public relations campaign is the attempt to convince young people that war is glorious and full of life-changing adventure. The effort put into this has left no small wake. 

We can easily see this in the bodies of work reacting to almost any major conflict. These works may include some reaffirming this narrative; it will also publish others swinging fists to dispel the notion. The literature following World War I is a prototypical example of this. But we can find similar canons for innumerable other wars. 

Some of us may recall more concrete efforts in our own lives. Americans may have vivid memories of the military recruiters combing their high schools (As a 16-year-old, I was approached by the army no fewer than three times. Frankly, it very nearly worked). 

And so Grossman addresses the opening of Life and Fate’s Part 2 to these young soldiers who dream of driving hard into battle to make an immortal, unchangeable mark on history. The problem is: history is much bigger than them. They are subject to not only the enemy, but also their own commanders.