The USSR's War and Peace
September 19, 2011 4:20 PM   Subscribe

An 8 hour radio dramatization of Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman is being broadcast by the BBC. Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant star.

Soviet writer Vasily Grossman's epic 1960 novel set during the Battle of Stalingrad (previously on MeFi) is considered a masterwork of Russian literature comparable to Tolstoy's War and Peace but was banned in the USSR until 1988.

(The radio drama is also available as a series of free podcasts, each downloadable for 30 days both in the UK and anywhere else in the world).
posted by Bwithh (9 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Aha, I was going to post this. Thanks for doing so!
posted by mykescipark at 4:59 PM on September 19, 2011

The book is freakin' fantastic, definitely worth reading if you have any interest in the Eastern Front of WWII. Grossman was an eyewitness to the whole war from the initial German invasion to the fall of Berlin and the immediacy of the story is incredible.
posted by zipadee at 5:13 PM on September 19, 2011

Life and fate is a tremendous book. One problem, however, is that it is the sequel of For a just cause, where the large cast of characters and their complex relationships are first introduced. For a just cause ends in a cliffhanger and Life and fate starts in media res without explaining the characters and their story arcs. It's a little confusing and the innumerable diminutive forms of Russian names do not help... I hope that this BBC adaptation provides an elegant solution to this. For a just cause is a good book, btw. Of course it is not subversive like its sequel, it's loaded down with Socialist Realism (the heroic kolkhoz worker...) and one has to fill the gaps concerning the Great Purge. But the main characters are as lively as in the sequel and the war scenes, notably the ones describing the German invasion and the ensuing panic, are mightily impressive. It also really helps to understand Life and fate from a narrative perspective and also because of Grossman's personal path between both novels.
posted by elgilito at 5:19 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Awesome possum! I've tried to get through Life and Fate a couple of times. Maybe this will help!
posted by John of Michigan at 5:50 PM on September 19, 2011

I've read Grossman's memoirs of the war. Stunning. I will absolutely read Life and Fate.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:58 PM on September 19, 2011

I discovered this last night. Really looking forward to listening to the podcasts.
posted by DanCall at 1:09 AM on September 20, 2011

If you're going to listen to this, I warn you that every night this week I've gone into the kitchen to find my wife in tears after listening to it. I've just avoided it altogether on the grounds that I'm feeling a bit fragile at the moment.
posted by pharm at 7:06 AM on September 22, 2011

I'm seven episodes in (not having read the book) and it's just incredible. The BBC have done something very special here. Extraordinary.
posted by chill at 5:31 AM on September 23, 2011

Late to the party here, but боже мой is this amazing. Thank you.
posted by Kinbote at 7:21 PM on September 24, 2011

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