Vasily Grossman

Life And Fate
  • Life And Fate

    • Vasily Grossman

    • Ellie Kendrick (Read by)

    • Full Cast (Read by)

    • Greta Scacchi (Read by)

    • Harriet Walter (Read by)

    • Kenneth Branagh (Read by)

    • Nigel Anthony (Read by)

    Kenneth Branagh stars in BBC Radio 4's ambitious eight-hour dramatisation of Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman's epic masterpiece set during the Battle of Stalingrad.

    Viktor, a nuclear physicist, is evacuated with his family from Moscow eastwards to Kazan. It's October 1942 and the Russians are defending Stalingrad from the ferocious attack of the Germans. Viktor has a revelatory breakthrough in his research, but his wife Lyuda learns of the death of her son and her grief drives a wedge between the couple: Viktor is drawn to the kindness of Marya, the wife of his close colleague.

    This powerful work, completed in 1960, charts the fate of both a nation and a family in the turmoil of war. Its comparison of Stalinism with Nazism was considered by Soviet authorities to be so dangerous that the KGB placed the manuscript under arrest, and Grossman was informed his book would not be published for at least 200 years. Having been a household name as one of Russia's most distinguished war correspondents, Grossman died aged 58 - the banning of his book hastening the end of his life - and he would never know the fate of his masterpiece: smuggled out of the Soviet Union on microfilm, to freedom and eventual publication in the West. Today it is increasingly hailed as the most important Russian novel of the 20th Century.

Vasily Grossman was born in 1905. In 1941, he became a war reporter for the Red Army newspaper Red Star and came to be regarded as a legendary war hero. Life and Fate, his masterpiece, was considered a threat to the totalitarian regime, and Grossman was told that there was no chance of the novel being published for another 200 years. Grossman died in 1964.

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