FOREVER FLOWING by Vasily Grossman


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Is Russia doomed? Is slavery her true passion? To one degree or another, we get a sorrowing ""yes"" from Pasternak or Solzhenitsyn, a sardonic ""yes"" from Pilnyak and Amalrik, Bulgakov and Zamyatin. The pessimism of these writers is so horrendous one would have thought not a word more could be said on the subject. Yet in the latest pirated anti-Soviet novel, Forever Flowing, by the late Vastly Grossman, a victim of the anti-Semitic ""doctor's plot"" of the '50's, the denunciation of Russian history continues unabated. It is a long lumbering work, full of scarifying details and torturous chronology, its only power that of truth, literary shape and balance seemingly beneath its interest. The truly obsessed Grossman writes like an avenging angel at the Last Judgment. ""In February 1917, the path of freedom lay straight ahead for Russia. And Russia chose Lenin. Yet Lenin himself was the slave of Russian history, he preserved the link between progress and slavery which has historically been Russia's curse. . . . What hope is there for Russia if even her greatest prophets cannot tell freedom from slavery?"" The novel has no narrative worth commenting on, the experiences of its hero and his friends and relations merely the dramatic counterpoints of what is essentially an oratorical essay on the horrors of the Revolution. One section, however, rises to eloquence, an unforgettably graphic depiction of the masses of peasants who were starved to death during the great famine of the '30's -- on the orders of Stalin! Here is barbarism which seems even to eclipse the slaughterhouse tales of the Siberian labor camps or the Nazi gas chambers.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1972
Publisher: Harper & Row