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 concerning 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 diverse Grossman, remarkable for his tenderness, heat, and experience of fun.
After the Soviet executive confiscated—or, as Grossman continuously positioned it, “arrested”—Life and Fate, he took at the job of revising a literal Russian translation of an extended Armenian novel. the radical used to be of little curiosity to him, yet he wanted cash and used to be obviously completely satisfied of an excuse to trip to Armenia. An Armenian Sketchbook is his account of the 2 months he spent there.
This is via a long way 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 historical church buildings, its people—while additionally reading his personal suggestions and moods. a perfectly human account of commute to a far flung position, An Armenian Sketchbook additionally has the vibrant allure of a self-portrait
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Extra resources for An Armenian sketchbook
I’ve reached the final page, the 1,420th. Now I’ll be reading through and revising the text as it comes back from the typists. I’ve read through 100 pages already. Compared with working on the literal version, this is like being on the staff of Red Army Soldier after being with Gorokhov’s men in Stalingrad in October 1942. . I’ve already got used to the author’s almost sleepy indifference to the way an elderly gentleman is working on his book so diligently that by evening his face and brow are covered in purple blotches.
But this long dispute between the negative and positive Armenian stereotypes is not what really matters. What matters is the need to move from the rigidity of national stereotypes towards something more truly human; what matters is to discover the riches of human hearts and souls; what matters is the human content of poetry and science, the universal charm and beauty of architecture; what matters is human courage and nobility; what matters is the magnanimity of a nation’s leaders and historical figures.
Why has it inculcated such mindless, chauvinistic hatred? Now, after Hitler, it has become more important than ever to look at the question of nationalism—of nationalistic contempt and nationalistic arrogance. What a distance there is between the caricature Armenians of these jokes and the thousands and thousands of real Armenian peasants, soldiers, scientists, doctors, and engineers—each with their own complexities and idiosyncrasies. What is it that gathers the diversity of individuals into the unity of a national character?
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