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The Road: Short Fiction and Essays Paperback – 1 Sep 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press; First Paperback Edition edition (1 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857381946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857381941
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


'Grossman deserves a special, if not revered, place as a recorder of some of the worst excesses of the 20th century - indeed, of any century. A casual reader may be lured into thinking this to be a collection of fictional short stories depicting the hardships and privations of Soviet life. But on page 126 comes an abrupt and horrifying awakening . 'The Hell of Treblinka' ... nothing prepares us for the force of Grossman's description; his detailed, harrowing reconstruction of what happened' Scotsman. (Scotsman)

a richness and clarity to a fascinating period and define Grossman as one of the great literary figures of the last century' Good Book Guide. (Good Book Guide)

''Grossman's trajectory is clear in his short fiction and essays: early essays explore the ardent patriotism that fired Russia; later ones such as the title story, 'The Road', an allegory of a beaten mule pulling a munitions train that offers a bitter reflection on life, hint at dangerous disillusionment ... The Road is an excellent introduction to Grossman's hauntingly powerful fiction and reportage' James Urquhart, Financial Times. (Financial Times)

...his vivid dispatches, some newly translated for this superb collection, retain a freshness that only the finest journalism can. The 11 short stories also collected here show a writer of infinite variety, and the bulk of them will enhance his reputation ... his is a powerful voice of conscience' Sunday Times. (Sunday Times)

''This superbly edited compendium of his writing, containing short stories, journalism and letters to his dead mother, allows us to access the nature and success of his enterprise. Through its lucid notes and essays it also serves as a first-class companion to the terrible history of mid-20th-century central Europe.' Jewish Chronicle. (Jewish Chronicle)

... it has become accepted that Vasily Grossman was one of the giants of 20th Century literature. This anthology of his stories and journalism, brilliantly translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, charts his growing disillusionment with communism as well as his frontline role in the war against the Nazis' Mail on Sunday. (Mail on Sunday)

''The collection has humour, pathos, satire and tragedy. Grossman's superlative ability is to relay through sparse writing the fear, anxiety and compassion of those he writes of. This is an utterly absorbing, compassionate and necessary collection and once read will linger and cause true reflection, as the best writing ought.' Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. (Journal of the Law Society of Scotland)

''From satire to comedy and tragedy this is a fantastic collection translated into English for the first time. Including Stalin's purges and the Holocaust, these short stories and articles are accompanied by introductions that put Grossman's life into context' Daily Express. (Daily Express)

''For today's reader, Grossman's work excavates from the Soviet rubble vital artefacts of the bitter, the tragic, the self-sacrificing, the indomitable and, ultimately, the inspiring' Ken Kalfus, International Herald Tribune. (International Herald Tribune)

''Grossman's stories are so affecting partly because they look so unflinchingly at human nature, combining a journalist's eye with a fascination for humanity enduring under near-intolerable circumstances.' Metro. (Metro)

No one knew better than Grossman what people are capable of. These stories and essays are one of the cultural monuments of the 20th century' David Herman, New Statesman. (New Statesman)

''Readers familiar with his novels will be surprised by his short fiction. They show a writer of infinite variety' Victor Sebestyen, Sunday Times. (Sunday Times)

The mystery of how to improve the human condition continued to fascinate him and is profoundly reflected in Grossman's superb writings - an enduring memorial to the man' Geoffrey Goodman, Tribune. (Tribune)

The only subject and the only hope is humanity' Brian Morton, Scottish Sunday Herald. (Scottish Sunday Herald)

''The unstinting championing of ordinary human emotion is what strikes hardest in Grossman's style ... Grossman manages to find human simplicity in his characters at the very apex of pain and disaster' Daily Telegraph. (Daily Telegraph)

This collection of short fiction and essays from the remarkable and criminally under-read Soviet writer includes haunting short stories and his excoriating wartime exposé of the Treblinka death camp' Benjamin Evans, Sunday Telegraph. (Sunday Telegraph)

From the Inside Flap

Vasily Grossman is recognized as one of the outstanding literary figures of the twentieth century, best known as the author of the novel Life and Fate. The short fiction and essays collected here are at least as accomplished, and illustrate the remarkable breadth of his work: 'The Road', an account of the war from the point of view of a mule in an Italian artillery regiment, can be read as a 4,000-word distillation of Life and Fate; 'In the Town of Berdichev' (the author's first published success, which won the admiration of Maksim Gorky and Isaak Babel) is the story of a woman commissar who has to choose between her newborn baby and her Red Army comrades; 'Mama' is based on a true story about an orphaned girl who was adopted by Nikolay Yezhov (head of the N.K.V.D. at the height of the Great Terror). In addition to the eleven stories, this volume includes two letters Grossman wrote to his mother after her death, and three articles, including the complete text of 'The Hell of Treblinka', one of the very first, and still among the most powerful descriptions of a Nazi extermination camp. Grossman's stories - works of satire, comedy, tragedy and pure narrative - read like descriptions of real events, drawing as they do on the human detail of Russia's turbulent twentieth century. Illustrated by Robert Chandler's introductions, they demonstrate one by one the bold intelligence, delicate irony and extraordinary vividness for which Grossman has justly become renowned.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback
Christina Georgina Rossetti.

Every now and again I come across a passage in a book that I immediately perceive to be the `emotional core' of the book. In the case of "The Road", a collection of stories and other writings by Vasily Grossman, I came across a passage that I thought served not as the `core' of the book but, rather, one that, instead, placed a bookmark on the beginning of the road that Grossman travelled as a writer and as a man.

The passage is found in "The Hell of Treblinka". Grossman, who was likely the first reporter to view and write about the horrors of the Nazi death camps, wrote this piece shortly after the liberation of Treblinka. It is a stunning piece of writing. Toward the end of the article, Grossman tries to make sense of things. He asks: "A particular kind of State does not appear out of nowhere. What engenders a particular regime is the material and ideological relations existing among a country's citizens. It is to these material and ideological relations that we need to devote serious thought; the nature of these relations is what should appall us."

When Grossman wrote this article, in September 1944 it was clear that his focus was solely on the Nazi death machine and the active and passive acceptance of that regime by Germany's own citizens. But, by the end of his life Grossman's focus evolved. In "The Hell of Treblinka" he looked at the material and ideological relations existing amongst the citizens of other countries, specifically Germany. By the time he wrote Life And Fate and
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By Lost John TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Robert Chandler, the translator to whom (with his wife and a number of collaborators) most readers of Grossman's work in English are indebted, comments in this volume, `Grossman's (prose) is perhaps as close to journalism as great prose can be whilst remaining great prose.' All the items selected by the Chandlers for this collection attest to the truth of that.

Their selection consists of 11 stories, three essays and two posthumous letters to Grossman's mother. Yekaterina Savelievna Grossman was one of 12,000 Jews shot at Berdychiv, Ukraine, on 15th September 1941, a trauma that Grossman never fully came to terms with. With a little help provided by Robert Chandler's notes, the letters speak for themselves. The stories range from descriptions of the experience of Nazi-occupation of residents of Ukrainian and Russian towns; through that of the adoptive daughter of the head of the NKVD; to empathetic insights into the experiences of an Italian mule that finds itself (in the title story, The Road) hauling a munitions wagon to Stalingrad, and of the second dog in space (the first to survive the experience), a stray picked-up from the streets. The essays are Grossman's quickly-assembled 1944 picture of the killing facilities at Treblinka (at that time newly discovered by Soviet troops), a reflective piece on the life and varied functions of Moscow's cemeteries, and an appreciation of Raphael's Sistine Madonna.

It is customary for translated works to come with an introduction and notes. In this case the Chandlers go considerably further, providing a full picture of Grossman's life, of the historical background - his life coincided with the most turbulent years of the Soviet period - and a basic critique of the works included.
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Format: Hardcover
Grossman is, I think, most famous for his epic novel Life and Fate. This collection brings together fiction and journalism spanning the writer's whole career, from early stories like 'A Young Woman and an Old Woman' which seem to have touches of socialist realism, to much more sensitive and subtle later works like 'Mama', 'The Dog' and the story from which the collection takes its title. The full text of Grossman's 'The Hell of Treblinka' (famous as one of the first pieces of journalism about the Nazi death camps) is also translated here. I had only previously experienced the latter in Beevor's 'A Writer at War' and, to re-read it here in its unexpurgated version was incredibly affecting and upsetting.
It's a fantastic collection of writing by an insightful, brave and bold writer. Chandler and his colleauges (the translators and editors of this edition) have previously worked on other Grossman books (the aforementioned Life and Fate and, earlier this year, Grossman's harrowing explanation of the grand sweep of Soviet history Everything Flows), as well as novels and prose by Grossman's contemporary and friend Platonov. The accompanying notes and appendices are excellent and the care and understanding taken over the production of the volume are impressive.
It seems to me that Grossman should be read more widely - this volume would be a great place for new readers to start. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I recently discovered the work of Vasily Grossman after reading Antony Beevor's history of the fall of Berlin in WW2
and a newspaper article about him.
Grossman was a writer and journalist of Ukranian Jewish background (1905-1964). The Road is a collection of his journalistic and literary writings. His profound and harrowing insight into the Russia and Soviet Union of his lifetime is presented here with all its hope,idealism and tragedy. He was a reporter for the Red Army and present at the liberation of Treblinka. He writes of small village life and the pity of war and fate. The death of his mother in a Nazi extermination camp was to haunt him the rest of his life.
In the end he survived Stalin's terror and later persecution and was never a dupe of the system or its ideals. Yet despite all, his humanity was never dimmed. We are left with the portrait of a man of nobility - a possessor of Wordworth's "unconquerable mind".
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