Robert Chandler on Vasily Grossman's AN ARMENIAN SKETCHBOOK

Reading and talk by Robert Chandler

Language: In English

Few writers had to confront as many of the last century's mass tragedies as Vasily Grossman, who wrote about the Shoah, the Battle of Stalingrad, and the Terror Famine in the Ukraine. An Armenian Sketchbook, however, shows us a different Grossman, notable for his tenderness, warmth, and sense of fun.

After the Soviet government confiscated the manuscript of Life and Fate, he took on the task of revising a literal Russian translation of a long Armenian novel. The novel was of little interest to him, but he needed money and was evidently glad of an excuse to travel to Armenia. An Armenian Sketchbook, his account of the two months he spent there is the most personal of his works. It is as if he is simply chatting to the reader about his impressions of Armenia-its mountains, its ancient churches, its people-while also examining his own thoughts and moods.

Robert Chandler will read from his and his wife's translation of this memoir and talk about the last few years of Grossman's life. He will also say a little about the links between Vasily Grossman and Feliks Lembersky, a fine painter who was a contemporary of Grossman and whose work is currently being exhibited in Pushkin House.

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