Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 33

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 33
Photo by Bermix Studio / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 33 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.

On the edges of Stalingrad, the Red Army waits. “Did the men hurrying, that very morning, along Unter den Linden (a major avenue in Berlin) know what was about to happen?” the narrator asks us. (p. 485)

We rejoin Novikov’s tank corps in this eye of the storm, who are charged with the urgent order: “hurry up and wait.” And so we wait with them. In the face of the carnage to come, the narrator delivers relaxed reflections of the tank corps’ members. 

Much of this is dedicated to Getmanov, and his chameleon-like ability to fit wherever he needs to. Out on the collective farm, he jokes with workers and rails against unsympathetic bosses. Back in his office, he reverts to the unfailingly serious Getmanov we’re more familiar with — dictating orders and demanding progress updates. 

This dynamic character seems to stand in contrast with his initial introduction as a somewhat uninspired, low-energy bureaucrat. The narrator acknowledges these seeming contradictions, saying “All this was far from easy to understand. But is life ever easy to understand?” (p. 489)