By Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Yury Bit-Yunan
An NYRB Classics Original
Few writers needed to confront as some 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, even though, exhibits us a really diversified Grossman, striking for his tenderness, heat, and feel of fun.
After the Soviet govt confiscated—or, as Grossman continually positioned it, “arrested”—Life and Fate, he took at the activity of revising a literal Russian translation of an extended Armenian novel. the radical was once of little curiosity to him, yet he wanted cash and used to be obviously joyful of an excuse to trip to Armenia. An Armenian Sketchbook is his account of the 2 months he spent there.
This is via 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 suggestions and moods. a superbly human account of commute to a far flung position, An Armenian Sketchbook additionally has the bright allure of a self-portrait
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Extra resources for An Armenian sketchbook
The young and fashionable of this city love black suits. The shops are well supplied; there is plenty of butter, sausages, and meat. And the young women are lovely, though some of them really do have terribly big noses. One thing astonishes me: An old man or woman has only to raise their hand and a bus driver will stop for them; people here are kind and compassionate. Pretty young women walk along the pavement, clicking their thin high heels; dandies in hats lead sheep they have bought for the impending holiday; the sheep click their little hooves on the pavement, and the young women click their fashionable little heels; amid the fine buildings and the neon lights, the sheep smell their death.
And Stalin’s character was the expression of the state he had built. I arrived in Yerevan at the time of the Twenty-second Party Congress, when the city’s most beautiful street, a broad straight street lined on either side with plane trees and lit by a central row of streetlamps, was renamed; I arrived when it was decided that Stalin Prospect should become Lenin Prospect. My Armenian companions, one of whom had been among the distinguished figures entrusted many years before with the task of unveiling the statue of Stalin, seemed very uneasy when I praised the titanic monument.
If a cosmonaut from a far-off planet were to see this bronze giant towering over the capital of Armenia, he would understand at once that it is a monument to a great and terrible ruler. Stalin wears a long bronze greatcoat, and he has a forage cap on his head. One of his bronze hands is tucked beneath the lapel of his greatcoat. He strides along, and his stride is slow, smooth, and weighty. It is the stride of a master, a ruler of the world; he is in no hurry. Two very different forces come together in him, and this is strange and troubling.