The Russian author Vasily Grossman here resists editorial efforts to render the first of his Stalingrad novels, For a Just Cause, ‘safe’, even though this delayed its publication.  This is an exchange between Grossman and Boris Agapov, a member of the editorial board:

‘Agapov: “I want to render the novel safe, to make it impossible for anyone to criticize it.”

Grossman: “Boris Nikolaevich, I don’t want to render my novel safe.”‘

His mighty Life and Fate, at least as unsafe, was not only suppressed by the authorities, but actually arrested, a rarity for a book. It was only published after Grossman’s death. See the quote-studded review of what I consider to be possibly the best 20th century novel (caveat: of those I’ve read).


Source: Vasily Grossman, 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. 69

Photo credit: Portrait of Vasily Grossman, 1945 – (Russian compilation of Second World War photos, mostly anonymous) and


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