Like so many Americans, I am disheartened by the current election cycle and its dispiriting daily news. Here’s one antidote: instead of the political blogs, try reading Vasily Grossman‘s Love and Fate. It has been sitting on my bookshelves for about a year, awaiting the right moment. Try the battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet gulags, and the Nazi death camps, to give you a sense of scale.
Here’s Grossman take on the times being out of joint, a bracing reminder that we all can’t roll with it, all the time. Who, after all, would want to be the man of the hour in the U.S.S.R. of Joseph Stalin?
“There is nothing more difficult than to be a stepson of the time; there is no heavier fate than to live in an age that is not your own. Stepsons of the time are easily recognized: in personnel departments, Party district committees, army political sections, editorial offices, on the street … Time loves only those it has given birth to itself: its own children, its own heroes, its own labourers. Never can it come to love the children of a past age, any more than a woman can love the heroes of a past age, or a stepmother love the children of another woman.
“Such is time: everything passes, it alone remains; everything remains, it alone passes. And how swiftly and noiselessly it passes. Only yesterday you were sure of yourself, strong and cheerful, a son of the time. But now another time has come – and you don’t even know it.”
Anyway, I’ve already voted by mail in the primaries. Wake me up in November. Meanwhile… back to my book.
Tags: Vasily Grossman