Life and Fate Read Along, Part 3 Chapter 42

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 3 Chapter 42
Photo by Jez Timms / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 3, Chapter 42 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.

Today’s chapter is lengthy, sprawling, and at times takes on an almost hallucinogenic quality. The winding and often divergent thoughts are meant to walk us through the effects that the days long interrogation has on Krymov.

At the start, Kyrmov obliges the investigator, clinging to his sense of innocence. The narrator describes how “The prisoner answered the investigator’s questions, quickly, as though anxious to assist him… They had both paid their Party membership dues, both watched the film Chapayev and both listened to briefings by the Central Committee; they had both been sent to make speeches in the factories during the week before May Day,” (p. 771). Sure, other people may be guilty. But, this is Comrade Krymov we’re talking about.

As the interrogation goes on, it becomes clear the investigator knows everything about Krymov down to the most minute detail. He thinks that “There was something sinister in the extent of his knowledge. Even if Krymov had been a very great man, whose every word was so important to history, it would still not have been worth gathering so many trifles, so much junk, into this great file,” (p. 774). Unfortunately for Krymov, he no longer stands a chance at being a great man in the eyes of the State. Instead, it probes his private conversations and offhand remarks searching for something even slightly incriminating.