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Review: Life and Fate

Life and Fate
Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Meant to be one of these ‘classics’ which become a must read for everyone but for me it’s the same as Dostoyevski’s The Brother’s Karamazov – unreadable. There must be something about Russian literature that causes me to become soporific. I just can’t get into this. I’ve ploughed through a third of this but have finally closed the pages. I can’t become caring about the characters, the plot has become meaningless. Perhaps I’ve committed some heresy with this book but I find it just turgid and cold.

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League of Militant Atheists

The League of Militant Atheists, also know as the Union of Belligerent Atheists, existed in the Soviet Union between 1925 and 1947. It was a drive to eradicate religion and replace it with ‘Soviet power’. It hit the buffers when Comrade Stalin realised he was on a hiding to nothing with the eradication of religion.

You used to occasionally see stories about Japanese soldier stranded on Pacific islands that refused to surrender for decades after WWII was all done and dusted. Perhaps the Bideford Union of Belligerent Atheists (BUBA) fall into the same category?

Didn’t come to much then and it won’t come to much now.

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G贸recki’s Symphony No. 3

I
My son, my chosen and beloved
Share your wounds with your mother
And because, dear son, I have always carried you in my heart,
And always served you faithfully
Speak to your mother, to make her happy,
Although you are already leaving me, my cherished hope.
(Lamentation of the Holy Cross Monastery from the “Lysag贸ra Songs” collection. Second half of the 15th century)
II
No, Mother, do not weep,
Most chaste Queen of Heaven
Support me always.
“Zdrowas Mario.” (*)
(Prayer inscribed on wall 3 of cell no. 3 in the basement of “Palace,” the Gestapo’s headquarters in Zadopane; beneath is the signature of Helena Wanda Blazusiak贸wna, and the words “18 years old, imprisoned since 26 September 1944.”)
(*) “Zdrowas Mario” (Ave Maria)鈥攖he opening of the Polish prayer to the Holy Mother
III
Where has he gone
My dearest son?
Perhaps during the uprising 
The cruel enemy killed him
Ah, you bad people
In the name of God, the most Holy,
Tell me, why did you kill
My son?
Never again
Will I have his support
Even if I cry
My old eyes out
Were my bitter tears
to create another River Oder
They would not restore to life
My son
He lies in his grave
and I know not where
Though I keep asking people
Everywhere
Perhaps the poor child
Lies in a rough ditch
and instead he could have been
lying in his warm bed
Oh, sing for him
God’s little song-birds
Since his mother 
Cannot find him
And you, God’s little flowers
May you blossom all around
So that my son
May sleep happily
(Folk song in the dialect of the Opole region)

I
Synku mi艂y i wybrany,
Rozdziel z matk膮 swoje rany,
A wszakom ci臋, synku mi艂y, w swem sercu nosi艂a,
A takie偶 tobie wiernie s艂u偶y艂a.
Przem贸w k matce, bych si臋 ucieszy艂a,
Bo ju偶 jidziesz ode mnie, moja nadziejo mi艂a.
Lament 艣wi臋tokrzyski
z “Pie艣ni 艂ysog贸rskich”
(druga po艂owa XV w.)
II
Mamo, nie p艂acz, nie.
Niebios Przeczysta Kr贸lowo,
Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie.
Zdrowa膰 Mario, 艁aski艣 Pe艂na.
Zakopane “Pa艂ace”
cela nr 3 艣ciana nr 3
B艂azusiak贸wna Helena Wanda
lat 18 siedzi od 25 IX 44
III
Kajze mi sie podziol
moj synocek mily?
Pewnie go w powstaniu
zle wrogi zabily.
Wy niedobrzy ludzie,
dlo Boga swietego
cemuscie zabili
synocka mojego?
Zodnej jo podpory
juz nie byda miala,
chocbych moje stare
ocy wyplakala.
Chocby z mych lez gorkich
drugo Odra byla,
jesce by synocka
mi nie ozywila.
Lezy on tam w grobie,
a jo nie wiem kandy
choc sie opytuja
miedzy ludzmi wsandy.
Moze nieborocek
lezy kay w dolecku,
a moglby se lygac
na swoim przypiecku.
Ej, cwierkejcie mu tam,
wy ptosecki boze,
kiedy mamulicka
znalezc go nie moze.
A ty, boze kwiecie,
kwitnijze w okolo,
niech sie synockowi
choc lezy wesolo
fragment Pie艣ni ludowej z opolskiego.
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