Life and Fate Read Along, Part 3 Chapter 29

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 3 Chapter 29
Photo by Bobby Donald / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 3, Chapter 29 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.

Darensky. Novikov. Getmanov. A whole lot of alcohol.

We might consider today’s chapter aggressively reflective: reflective because of the nature of the conversation and aggressive because of the nature of the rhetoric.

As Darensky joins Novikov and Getmanov at the tank corps command post, Getmanov soon offers his opinion on the now-liberated territory. He remarks that “They [Kalmyks] were just a crowd of ragged, illiterate, syphilitic nomads. But it’s no good — you can’t change a leopard’s spots. Even during the Civil War the vast majority were on the side of the Whites,” (p. 717). Running contrary to nearly all Marxist thought up until that point, Getmanov reaffirms national identity as the primary driver of actions—economic circumstances play no role in Getmanov’s logic.

He contemplates a different timeline where, instead of working towards a common cultural understanding, cultural funding was instead redirected to the military. He says “And just think how much money we spent on all those weeks dedicated to the friendship of the nations. We’d have done better to spend it on building another tank factory in Siberia,” (p. 717). Clearly, Getmanov does not view the Kalmyk people as worth defending.