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A two-part radio dramatisation of Vasily Grossman's dark, honest account of the battle of Stalingrad; a prequel to Life and Fate – plus Stalingrad: Destiny of a Novel Epic BBC serial Life and Fate stunned radio audiences in 2011, garnering rave reviews for its powerful depiction of a family torn apart by war in Soviet Russia. Now, with this astonishing prequel published in its first ever English translation by Richard and Elizabeth Chandler, we are transported back to the very beginning of Vasily Grossman’s panoramic tale, as the ‘harsh whirlwind’ of war approaches the city of Stalingrad. As Stalingrad opens, we are introduced to the many lives of the Shaposhnikov family and their partners. Atomic scientist Viktor Shtrum struggles with his work for the State and with his own conscience, while his family live, love and work (despite swirling rumours) to run the city’s power stations, factories and hospitals. Meanwhile, at the Front, we meet old-school Bolshevik Commissar Nikolai Krymov in the thick of the Russian army’s pell-mell retreat before Operation Barbarossa, and follow the 'unknown' soldiers giving their lives to hold the line at the Volga. This vivid, gripping drama features many of the same acclaimed cast as Life and Fate, including Kenneth Branagh as Viktor Shtrum and Greta Scacchi as Lyuda Shaposhnikova. Accompanying this stellar dramatisation is Stalingrad: Destiny Of A Novel; featuring extracts from Grossman's private journal, translated here for the first time, and chronicling Stalingrad’s tortuous gestation and long, tormented passage to print. Written and presented by author and historian Catherine Merridale, with readings by Anton Lesser, this five-part series reveals the dramatic backstory behind the classic novel and explores the beginnings of Grossman’s own journey towards Soviet heresy. Written by Vasily Grossman Translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler Dramatised by Mike Walker (Part One) and Jonathan Myerson (Part Two) Part One produced and directed by Jonquil Panting Part Two produced by James Robinson and directed by Jonathan Myerson Series Producer: Alison Hindell Original music composed by John Hardy, with Rob Whitehead, and performed by Oliver Wilson-Dixon, Tom Jackson, Stacey Blythe and Max Pownall First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 30 November-1 December 2019Show more
Brought to you by Penguin. THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER AND NOW A MAJOR RADIO 4 DRAMA 'One of the great novels of the 20th century, and now published in English for the first time' Observer 'A gripping panorama of the human experience' Kenneth Branagh In April 1942, Hitler and Mussolini plan the huge offensive on the Eastern Front that will culminate in the greatest battle in human history. Hundreds of miles away, Pyotr Vavilov receives his call-up papers and spends a final night with his wife and children in the hut that is his home. As war approaches, the Shaposhnikov family gathers for a meal: despite her age, Alexandra will soon become a refugee; Tolya will enlist in the reserves; Vera, a nurse, will fall in love with a wounded pilot; and Viktor Shtrum will receive a letter from his doomed mother which will haunt him forever. The war will consume the lives of a huge cast of characters – lives which express Grossman’s grand themes of the nation and the individual, nature’s beauty and war’s cruelty, love and separation. For months, Soviet forces are driven back inexorably by the German advance eastward and eventually Stalingrad is all that remains between the invaders and victory. The city stands on a cliff top by the Volga River. The battle for Stalingrad – a maelstrom of violence and firepower – will reduce it to ruins. But it will also be the cradle of a new sense of hope. Stalingrad is a magnificent novel not only of war but of all human life: its subjects are mothers and daughters, husbands and brothers, generals, nurses, political officers, steelworkers, tractor girls. It is tender, epic, and a testament to the power of the human spirit. ‘You will not only discover that you love his characters and want to stay with them – that you need them in your life as much as you need your own family and loved ones – but that at the end... you will want to read it again’ Daily TelegraphShow more
Vasily Grossman, author of Life and Fate, was transformed by his experiences as a war correspondent. Following the shock invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Grossman volunteered for front line duty. Declared unfit for active service he was assigned to Red Star newspaper as a special correspondent. In these BBC Radio programmes, Elliot Levey reads three of Vasily Grossman's front line despatches. The first is a heroic and intimate portrait of a sniper, the second deals with the battle for Stalingrad and the final one details the murder of millions of Jews on Soviet soil: an account that was rejected by the military censor and only rediscovered in the late 1990s. Translators: Jim Riordan & Polly Zavadivker. Producer: Mark Burman.Show more