Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 57

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 56 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.

There is a truism about war — perhaps one repeated enough that we can instead consider it a pedestrian cliche — that it is “boredom punctuated by moments of terror.” 

Here Grossman reminds the reader of how horrible that boredom can be. While Seryozha was delayed for two days at Army HQ, he at least had amenities we take for granted. Out on the steppe, Darensky and his comrades have little of that: no hot baths (in fact, very little water at all), food that is bad even by the usual army standards, and so many lice

By this point, Darensky has almost forgotten about the war or even his love affairs. There’s just time until the next meal. And the lice. “There was no shooting, and no planes going by overhead,” the narrator tells us after Darensky discovers an infestation in his underwear. “You could hear distinct cracks as the lice perished, one after another, beneath the fingernails of the two officers.” (p. 596)