By Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Yury Bit-Yunan
An NYRB Classics Original
Few writers needed to confront as the various final century’s mass tragedies as Vasily Grossman, who wrote with terrifying readability in regards to the Shoah, the conflict of Stalingrad, and the fear Famine within the Ukraine. An Armenian Sketchbook, notwithstanding, exhibits us a truly diversified Grossman, extraordinary for his tenderness, heat, and experience of fun.
After the Soviet govt confiscated—or, as Grossman constantly placed it, “arrested”—Life and Fate, he took at the activity of revising a literal Russian translation of an extended Armenian novel. the radical used to be of little curiosity to him, yet he wanted cash and used to be obviously pleased of an excuse to shuttle to Armenia. An Armenian Sketchbook is his account of the 2 months he spent there.
This is through some distance the main own and intimate of Grossman’s works, endowed with an air of absolute spontaneity, as if he's easily chatting to the reader approximately his impressions of Armenia—its mountains, its historic church buildings, its people—while additionally reading his personal suggestions and moods. a perfectly human account of shuttle to a remote position, An Armenian Sketchbook additionally has the shiny charm of a self-portrait
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Extra info for An Armenian sketchbook
Once I saw Andreas in a real fury. He was cursing in Armenian, bringing his Armenian curses to an incandescent heat over the dirty flame of ordinary Russian swearwords. Soon afterwards, I found out what had happened. During the night, on instructions from the Party committee, the gilt plaster statue of Stalin had been removed from the village square. Seeing this, Andreas had shaken his staff in the air. He had attacked drivers; he had attacked children; he had attacked Karapet-aga; he had attacked students from Yerevan who had come to the village to ski.
Perhaps this is the reason for all the flattened Mongolian noses, the Assyrian jet-black hair, the pale-blue Greek eyes, and coal-black Persian eyes. Interestingly, all this diversity—fair and dark hair, pale-blue and black eyes, and so on—is particularly evident in the countryside, in villages whose way of life is inward-looking and patriarchal. Here, at least, it cannot be the reflection of any recent events. The mirror that shows us the face of contemporary Armenia has been polished in the depth of time.
The longer a nation’s history, the more wars, invasions, wanderings, and periods of captivity it has seen—the greater the diversity of its faces. Throughout centuries and millennia victors have spent the night in the homes of those they have defeated. This diversity is the story of the crazed hearts of women who passed away long ago, of the wild passions of soldiers intoxicated by victory, of the miraculous tenderness of some foreign Romeo towards some Armenian Juliet. 4 IN YEREVAN, and in towns and villages in the mountains and on the plains, I met people of all kinds.
An Armenian sketchbook by Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Yury Bit-Yunan