Time plays tricks with our senses and our memories, as neatly expressed in Grossman’s Life and Fate:

After dancing all night at a New Year’s ball, a girl will be unable to say whether the time passed quickly or slowly.  Similarly, a man who has done twenty-five years in the Schlüsselburg Prison will say: ‘I seem to have been a whole eternity in this fortress, and at the same time I seem to have been here a few weeks.’

This is from what I believe may be the best novel of the 20th century (of the slim sampling I have read) and that last sentence echoes Dino Buzzati’s The Tartar Steppe, in which a young officer is posted to a remote fortress and ends up spending his entire career there, waiting for the moment of glory when he can fight heroically.

Enjoy our quote-rich love letter (also known as a review) to Grossman’s bestellar.

Source: Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman, trans. Robert Chandler (New York: New York Review Books, 2006 (1985)), p. 48

Photo credit: Brigitte Werner at Pixabay


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