Life and Fate Read Along, Part 3 Chapter 40

This post, covering Part 3, Chapter 40 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.

In the days after skipping the institute’s meeting, Viktor and Lyudmila find themselves facing unusual struggles. Although he is still a member of the academy and still receives some pay, he no longer has a job with a meaningful salary — and will soon lose access to perks like a dacha in the countryside. 

This chapter is soaked in Viktor’s anxieties, most of them coming for good reason. Through Life and Fate, several characters have made veiled references to the privileged life afforded to Viktor and Lyudmila. Without his job, though, their existence is suddenly incredibly tenuous. 

It is apparent that they have little in the way of meaningful savings, with Viktor already afraid of how they’ll be paying rent or how to afford their dacha. He beats himself over the head for not renewing the lease on the latter earlier — it would have been trivial to do on his former salary. But the money just isn’t there anymore. 

Lyudmila, ever the practical one of the pair, is already looking ahead to other problems: “Their excess living space, ration cards and salary attestations for the house management committee, the need to transfer to a different store, a ration book for the coming quarter, Viktor’s out-of-date passport, the fact that he needed a certificate of employment in order to renew it – all these questions weighed on her day and night.” (p. 754)