A heartening simile in a vivid, gripping narrative of humans ground between the shifting tectonic plates of contradictory but equally totalitarian ideologies. There is neither much sunshine nor hope in the book, but such hope as there is is tenacious and connected to the free will and kindness of minute and, on the face of it, powerless individuals. 

‘Suddenly the sun rose – like a burst of hope.’ 

See also another hopeful, sunny simile and a less hopeful one in George Eliot, and Kazantzakis’ surprising locus for hope to begin.

See the bestellar review of Life and Fate, complete with a mosaic of illustrations quotations.  It is, in my view, one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and in some senses more real than many historical accounts – Grossman was a journalist who covered Stalingrad and other frontline action in the war, and one of the first journalists to write an account of the newly liberated concentration camps.  All that is brought into play in the searing realism of his novel, itself arrested by the KGB. 

Source: Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman, trans. Robert Chandler (New York: New York Review Books, 2006 (1985)), p. 137

Photo credit: 12019 at pixabay.com


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