Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Monday, October 24, 2011

Geography is Destiny

I came across a great passage from Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman, describing an elderly gentleman who, in his youth, was exiled to Tashkent by the Tsarist government for subversive teaching. Eventually he returned to Russia and was the only landlord (in his district, I presume) who was left unmolested in the Revolution. But:

In 1926 Shargorodsky took it into his head to give lectures on the history of Russian literature; he attacked Demyan Byedniy and praised Fet; he took part in the then fashionable discussions about the beauty and truth of life; he declared himself an opponent of every State, declared Marxism a narrow creed, and spoke of the tragic fate of the Russian soul. In the end he talked and argued himself into another journey at government expense to Tashkent. There he stayed, marvelling at the power of geographical arguments in a theoretical discussion, until in late 1933 he received permission to move to Samara to live with his elder sister, Elena Andreevna.

Grossman's prose can't be compared to Tolstoy's, but it has its moments, and Life and Fate packs a lot of truth into 871 pages.


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