Life and Fate Read Along, Part 3 Chapter 26

This post, covering Part 3, Chapter 26 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.

Marya Ivanovna leaves the Shaposhnikov/Shtrum apartment, with Viktor accompanying her to the trolley stop. This moment, for him, reaches a bliss he rarely expresses in Life and Fate

“What lay between them was true and natural, they were no more responsible for it than a man is responsible for the light of day,” the narrator tells us. Yet all the same, there is an awareness of the consequences of their emotions: “[A]nd yet this truth inevitably engendered insincerity, deceit and cruelty towards those dearest to them. It was in their power to avoid deceit and cruelty; all they had to do was renounce this clear and natural light.” (p. 707) 

This awareness is perhaps in Marya’s mind when she turns to Viktor to tell him that this will be their last meeting. Her husband, Sokolov, has asked her not to see him or his family any more. Perhaps his decision is mostly influenced by Viktor’s recent fall from grace. 

Whatever the case may be, it is impossible to ignore the parallels between this scene and its author’s own life. 

While Grossman was writing Life and Fate throughout the 50s, his work was highly influenced by the poet Nikolai Zabolotsky. Zabolotsky, who had been arrested in 1938, was released and returned to Moscow in the mid-1940s — fatefully, the government gave him an apartment in the same neighborhood as Grossman.