A Writer at War edited by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova
There are writers who seem consumed by the times they live in, and Vasily Grossman, the great Russian novelist and war correspondent, was one of them. Born in 1905 in the provincial Ukrainian town of Berdichev, he was the child of assimilated and secularized Jews. His parents often traveled abroad, and like other members of the family might well have settled in Europe or America. As a Soviet subject, he was instead doomed to the experience of Stalinism and Nazism.
Photographs show Grossman as earnest and ungainly, bespectacled, the very type of a sedentary intellectual. Always somewhat naïve, and apparently never a party member himself, he nevertheless wrote the sort of novels that a Communist was expected to write between the two world wars. Even so, however, he was interrogated for suspected “Trotskyite” links in 1938, and could well have ended as a victim of the Great Terror.
About the Author
David Pryce-Jones, the British novelist and political analyst, is the author of, among other books, Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews (Encounter).