By Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Yury Bit-Yunan
An NYRB Classics Original
Few writers needed to confront as a number of the final century’s mass tragedies as Vasily Grossman, who wrote with terrifying readability in regards to the Shoah, the conflict of Stalingrad, and the fear Famine within the Ukraine. An Armenian Sketchbook, in spite of the fact that, indicates us a truly diversified Grossman, striking for his tenderness, heat, and feel of fun.
After the Soviet govt confiscated—or, as Grossman regularly positioned it, “arrested”—Life and Fate, he took at the job of revising a literal Russian translation of a protracted Armenian novel. the unconventional was once of little curiosity to him, yet he wanted funds and used to be obviously happy of an excuse to go back and forth to Armenia. An Armenian Sketchbook is his account of the 2 months he spent there.
This is by means of some distance the main own and intimate of Grossman’s works, endowed with an air of absolute spontaneity, as if he's easily chatting to the reader approximately his impressions of Armenia—its mountains, its old church buildings, its people—while additionally analyzing his personal options and moods. a perfectly human account of commute to a far off position, An Armenian Sketchbook additionally has the vibrant attraction of a self-portrait
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Additional info for An Armenian sketchbook
It was as if, for one last time, the Generalissimo were commanding his artillery. Again and again, fire and thunder split open the darkness; hundreds of soldiers were working away. Silence and darkness would return. Once again the command would be given and the terrible bronze god in a greatcoat would step out from the mountain darkness. No, no, it was impossible not to give this figure his due—this instigator of countless inhuman crimes was also the leader, the merciless builder of a great and terrible state.
The construction sites are still largely unmechanized and there are crowds of workers everywhere—just what I don’t want. . But if I get out by the bridge and stand on top of the cliff, I might get dizzy. . But the torrent at the bottom of the gorge is white with foam. It looks beautiful! . Hopeless! You can see right through it from every side.
There is no grass anywhere, no water, nothing but flat, stony steppe—nothing but large, jagged gray, greenish, or black stones. The peasants are wearing the uniform of all Soviet working folk: thick wadded jackets, gray or black. The men are like the stones they live among; their faces are dark both from a natural swarthiness and from being unshaven. Many are wearing long white woolen socks, pulled up over their trousers. The women wear gray scarves wound around their heads, covering their mouths and their foreheads down to their eyes.