Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised)

  • by Vasily Grossman
  • Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, David Tennant
  • 7 hrs and 35 mins
  • Radio/TV Program

Publisher's Summary

Kenneth Branagh stars in BBC Radio 4's ambitious eight-hour dramatisation of Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman's epic masterpiece set during the Battle of Stalingrad. This powerful work, completed in 1960, charts the fate of both a nation and a family in the turmoil of war. Its comparison of Stalinism with Nazism was considered by Soviet authorities to be so dangerous that the KGB placed the manuscript under arrest and Grossman was informed his book would not be published for at least 200 years.
Having been a household name as one of Russia's most distinguished war correspondents, Grossman died aged 58 - the banning of his book hastening the end of his life - and he would never know the fate of his masterpiece: smuggled out of the Soviet Union on microfilm, to freedom and eventual publication in the West. Today it is increasingly hailed as the most important Russian novel of the 20th century.

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Customer Reviews

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Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate

This was a most disappointing dramatization of one of the major Russian novels of the 20th century. Vasily Grossman's book was based on his experiences as a Jewish war correspondent on the Eastern Front, notably at Stalingrad, and also the first to report to the press on a Nazi death camp, Treblinka. It is a kind of War and Peace for the Soviet era. The main problem with the dramatization is that it is done in very British voices, which rather clashes with the Russian setting of the story. In many cases, the translator used British slang terms ("Give over!" for example) that may have been more or less correct but sounded horribly out of place. In addition, some local British dialects were used to represent the ordinary Russian soldiers (as opposed to the educated elite family who were the protagonists), and it was very difficult at times to understand what exactly they were saying. Another problem was simply that there were so many characters, and the situation so complex that it was hard to follow the story line altogether. Now I don't know if I want to try to get the book from the library or just forget it. That would be a pity, for the book--banned by the Soviet government and smuggled out of Russia to be published in the West--gives a terrifying portrait not only of what the Soviets suffered during the German occupation and the war, but also of the political terror of the Stalin regime. It's a book that needs to be widely known, but this dramatization is not the vehicle for it.
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- Alifa

Painfully well done

I had a bit of a struggle following the thread of the story between the characters, however the narration skills of these amazing actors overcame this difficulty for the most part. As indicated in other reviews, the story is unrelentingly grim, realistic, and painful to listen to because of its adherence to accurate portrayal of individual experiences in World War II.
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- Eleanor Corner

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-13-2011
  • Publisher: BBC Worldwide Limited