Listening time: 3 minutes. A beautiful description of the sheer, unbounded joy of being alive in a small mongrel dog who finds herself on the streets of a Russian city.
Vasily Grossman’s capacity to imagine the mind and feelings of animals is concentrated in this short story and another in the same collection concerning a donkey, but it also appears throughout his other writings. He is as alert to their wisdom and their suffering as he is to that of the humans around him.
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‘Her childhood was hungry and homeless; nevertheless, childhood is the happiest time of life.
Her first May – those spring days on the edge of town – was especially good. The smell of earth and young grass filled her soul with happiness. She felt a piercing, almost unbearable sense of elation; sometimes she was too happy even to feel like eating. All day long there was a warm green mist in her head and her eyes. She would drop down on her front paws in front of a dandelion and let out happy, angry, childish, staccato yelps; she was asking the flower to join in and run about with her, and the stillness of its stout little green leg surprised her and made her cross.’
Source: Vasily Grossman, ‘The Dog’, The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays, trans. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Olga Mukovnikova, afterword Fyodor Guber (New York: New York Review Books, 2010), p. 235