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A Writer at War. Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945 (2005)

by Vasily Grossman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8301818,842 (4.08)49
"Vasily Grossman's masterpiece Life and Fate is rated by many as the greatest Russian novel of the twentieth century. Among its admirers is Antony Beevor, the bestselling author of Stalingrad and Berlin. A Writer at War is based on the notebooks in which Grossman gathered his raw material. It depicts as never before the crushing conditions on the Eastern Front and the lives and deaths of infantrymen, tank drivers, pilots, snipers and civilians alike." "Deemed unfit for service when the Germans invaded in 1941, Grossman became a special correspondent for Red Star, the Red Army newspaper. Remarkably, he spent three of the following four years at the front observing with a writer's eye the most pitiless fighting ever known. Grossman witnessed the appalling defeats and desperate retreats of 1941, the defence of Moscow and fighting in the Ukraine. In August 1942 he was posted to Stalingrad where he remained during four months of brutal street-fighting. He was present at the battle of Kursk, the largest tank engagement in history, and, as the Red Army advanced, he reached Berdichev where his worst fears for his mother and other relations were confirmed. A Jew himself, he undertook the faithful recording of Holocaust atrocities as their extent dawned. His supremely powerful report 'The Hell of Treblinka' was used in evidence at the Nuremberg tribunal." "A Writer at War offers the one outstanding eye-witness account of the war on the Eastern Front and perhaps the best descriptions ever of what Grossman called 'the ruthless truth of war'."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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» See also 49 mentions

English (14)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (18)
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Publicada en lengua española per Ediciones en lenguas extranjeras en Moscú el 1946.
El volum recupera íntegramente la traducción, revisada i corregida
  stJosep | Mar 27, 2020 |
Breathtakingly powerful writing. ( )
  picklefactory | Jan 16, 2018 |
Wavered on the star rating for this one, but I'll go with four stars, since it was the reading experience and not the book itself I had trouble with. I read it as an ebook, and it just didn't translate well to electronic format: too many photos and maps, and long stretches of italic text that I found strenuous to read. (The print edition sets these off as block-quotes, which I'd have much preferred.)

It's a fascinating read. The editors do a remarkable job taking the raw material and streamlining it into coherence, considering how much of it began as spur-of-the-moment reflections jotted hastily into a notebook. Grossman doesn't attempt to paint a complete picture of the Soviet war effort. He's concerned, rather, with the lives of the men on the ground. His--and the everyday Soviet soldier's--experience is related in snapshots, vignettes, one- or two-sentence snippets, with no attempt at whitewashing or sanitizing or even reconciling contradictions. Grossman simply tells it as it is. He's determined to keep the "ruthless truth" of the war free of "ideological and artistic" convention, and he succeeds. ( )
  9inchsnails | Mar 7, 2016 |
Worth it for the description of Treblinka alone. As difficult as it was to read, I can't even imagine the interviews and first-hand reporting that went into writing that piece. The eastern fronts have always been neglected, hopefully this will help to rectify that state of affairs. ( )
  kcshankd | Sep 21, 2015 |
Questo libro raccoglie alcuni racconti/reportage di guerra ed il famoso saggio su Treblinka, usato anche come testimonianza al processo di Norimberga. Era ancora il periodo nel quale Grossman era apprezzato dal regime ed i suoi scritti sono pieni di esaltazione nei confronti del regime stesso e della grandezza e unicità dell’Unione Sovietica. Sembra che la salvezza dell’umanità sia dipesa dagli eroici difensori di Stalingrado; eroici lo sono stati davvero ma da quello che ho letto più volte sembra che Stalingrado fosse stata solo una “vetrina” per i due regimi totalitari; l’importanza della città non era strategica ma solamente il fatto che portasse il nome del “piccolo padre”. Negli scritti successivi di Grossman questa visione idilliaca del regime stalinista è ormai infranta definitivamente. L’inferno a Treblinka lo avevo già letto in un’altra edizione e mi aveva giustamente colpito e commosso. Rileggendolo ora qualcosa mi suona male, sgradevole, fuorviante. Ci sono diverse imprecisioni ma quelle sono dovute al fatto che il libro è stato scritto non appena il campo è stato liberato e che si iniziasse allora a fare luce sulle mostruosità del nazismo (Auschwitz fu liberato dopo); non mi riferisco a queste cose. Quello che mi sembra pericoloso è il concetto che tutte le colpe fossero dei tedeschi o, meglio ancora, del nazismo. È come quando un pazzo va in un luogo pubblico, fa una strage e poi si suicida. Possiamo piangere le vittime ma non c’è più nessuno da giudicare e condannare e non c’è più niente da temere. Morto Hitler, finito il nazismo (il partito ufficiale), impiccati quelle due o tre bestie che non si sono suicidate, è tutto finito. Putroppo la Germania si è soltanto limitata ad organizzare con la pignoleria di un ragioniere (La banalità del male) quei sentimenti che in molte altre nazioni erano presenti da tantissimo. Le efferatezze fatte con piacere, sicuramente dovute anche a molti tedeschi, le vedo più dei popoli occupati. Mi torna in mente Elias Canetti che racconta che la madre dovette andare a fare l’università in Germania, ante nazismo, perché in Polonia era vietata agli ebrei. Purtroppo non ricordo chi (scampato ad un campo di sterminio) disse: “I tedeschi sono cattivi, i polacchi ancora di più, ma i più feroci sono gli ucraini”. Non ci scordiamo che i tedeschi dovettero “calmare” i Romeni presi da troppo entusiasmo nello sterminio degli ebrei come riporta Hannah Arendt (ora sui muri delle Sinagoghe romene ci sono lapidi in inglese che presentano i romeni come i più grandi difensori degli ebrei durante la Shoah), non ci scordiamo la ferocia degli ucraini sia in Ucraina, sia nei campi di sterminio, i lituani a Vilnius, in tutta l’Europa centrale ed orientale i tedeschi si sono soltanto limitati a “dare il permesso”, poi gli entusiasti cittadini si sono occupati di quasi tutto il lavoro. Alla periferia di Firenze, durante l’occupazione, c’era Villa Triste un luogo dove venivano sperimentate le forme più fantasiose di tortura; a gestirla non erano tedeschi ma gli italiani del maggiore Carità (mai nome fu tanto infelice). L’antisemitismo, il razzismo e la persecuzione efferata sono sempre esistiti ed esistono ancora anche senza nazisti. Proprio in questi giorni (dicembre 2011, vicini al natale quando tutti sono più buoni) c’è stata la spedizione punitiva e relativo incendio del campo Rom di Torino, semplice atto dei penultimi contro gli ultimi o odio cieco contro chi è diverso e quindi inferiore? Per concludere: se questo fosse un libro scritto ora gli darei due o tre stelle al massimo: stalinista e negazionista dell’antisemitismo feroce diffuso in tutta l’Europa centrale e orientale. Visto il momento nel quale è stato scritto, il valore di documento storico, i limiti di conoscenza ed i limiti di libertà, gli do quattro stelle. Un dubbio: Grossman viene presentato come ingegnere .... io sapevo che era un chimico. ( )
1 vote SergioPerkunas | Apr 10, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vasily Grossmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Astroff, CatherineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beevor, AntonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berelowitch, AlexisAuteursecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlsen, Arne-CarstenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlsen, JorunnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Casotti, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ettinger, HelmutTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guiod, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gyáros, László, [from old catalog]Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Madariaga, JuanmariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magnusson, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moerdijk, HenkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vinogradova, LubaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Vasily Grossman's place in the history of world literature is assured by his masterpiece Life and Fate, one of the greatest Russian novels of the twentieth century. (Introduction)
Any translation from the Russian which hopes to be readable in English requires a slight compression of the original, through the deletion of superfluous words and repetitions. (Translator's note)
Front, when written with a capital letter refers to the Soviet equivalent of an army group, for example, Central Front, Western Front or Stalingrad Front. (Glossary)
Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union began in the early hours on 22 June 1941.
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"Vasily Grossman's masterpiece Life and Fate is rated by many as the greatest Russian novel of the twentieth century. Among its admirers is Antony Beevor, the bestselling author of Stalingrad and Berlin. A Writer at War is based on the notebooks in which Grossman gathered his raw material. It depicts as never before the crushing conditions on the Eastern Front and the lives and deaths of infantrymen, tank drivers, pilots, snipers and civilians alike." "Deemed unfit for service when the Germans invaded in 1941, Grossman became a special correspondent for Red Star, the Red Army newspaper. Remarkably, he spent three of the following four years at the front observing with a writer's eye the most pitiless fighting ever known. Grossman witnessed the appalling defeats and desperate retreats of 1941, the defence of Moscow and fighting in the Ukraine. In August 1942 he was posted to Stalingrad where he remained during four months of brutal street-fighting. He was present at the battle of Kursk, the largest tank engagement in history, and, as the Red Army advanced, he reached Berdichev where his worst fears for his mother and other relations were confirmed. A Jew himself, he undertook the faithful recording of Holocaust atrocities as their extent dawned. His supremely powerful report 'The Hell of Treblinka' was used in evidence at the Nuremberg tribunal." "A Writer at War offers the one outstanding eye-witness account of the war on the Eastern Front and perhaps the best descriptions ever of what Grossman called 'the ruthless truth of war'."--BOOK JACKET.

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