A beautiful, gentle challenge to any perception of the steppe as being some sort of endless emptiness.  Here we find something indeed unexpected: a landscape that can rival the brilliance of autumn woods in a quiet, soul-soothing way, and whose lakes concentrate their element.

‘But there is another, unexpected side to the steppe.  It is also a noble, ancient world; a world where there are no screaming colours or harsh lines, but only a sober grey-blue melancholy that can rival the colours of a Russian forest in autumn; a world whose soft undulating hills capture the heart more surely than the peaks of the Caucasus; a world whose small, dark, ancient lakes seem to express the very essence of water more truly than seas or oceans.’

For another surprising view of the steppe, see also ‘An ocean of colours’.

Source: Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman; trans. Robert Chandler (New York: New York Review Books, 2006 (1985)), p. 292

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