Cover of “Zhizn’ i sud’ba” by V. Grossman.

Zhizn’ i sud’ba [Life and Fate]

Author: Vasilii Grossman (1905-1964)

Years of Writing: 1950 [?]-1960

Year of first Publishing: 1980

Publisher: L’Age d’Homme

Place of Publishing: Lausanne

Vasilii Grossman began writing his masterpiece Life and Fate (Zhizn’ i sud’ba), the first part of what he had imagined as a duology on the Battle of Stalingrad (1942 – 43), even before publishing For a Just Cause (Za pravoe delo, 1952; 1954 revised ed.). It took him a decade to complete. Chapters of Life and Fate appeared in Soviet newspapers in 1960 and in October of the same year, Grossman presented the novel to the magazine “Znamja” which refused to publish it for ideological reasons. On 14 February 1961, the KGB seized the writer’s manuscripts, first drafts and typewritten copies, aiming to avoid a new “Pasternak incident”, and Grossman was detained by the Soviet regime. If he published abroad, he risked imprisonment. After the writer’s death, the custodians of the two copies of Life and Fate hidden by Grossman before his manuscripts were confiscated, his friend Viacheslav Loboda and the writer Semen Lipkin, were also detained. Only in 1974 did the latter, with the help of the writer Vladimir Voinovich’s, manage to bring the novel to the West. One microfilm copy was prepared by Vojnovich and another by Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner. A selection of 23 chapters was published in the emigrant magazine “Kontinent” (1975 – 1976) but the novel did not gain significant attention from publishers and critics. In 1978 Voinovich gave a third microfilm copy of the novel to the Austrian Slavist Rosemarie Ziegler, which the publisher L’Age d’Homme of Lausanne released in 1980. The editors, Efim Ėtkind and Simon Markish, prepared an incomplete version using another microfilm of unknown source; however, they could not decrypt every word. In the Soviet Union some chapters of Life and Fate appeared in “Ogonёk” in 1987 and the following year the novel (in the 1980 version with the omission of chapter 32 of part II, about anti-Semitism) was published, generating a huge stir, in the magazine “Oktiabr’” as well as in a single volume by Knizhnaia Palata, who reissued it in 1989 in a new edition based on the copy kept by Loboda (of which no one had known until then) and the typewritten copy provided by Lipkin. In 2013, the FSB ceded to the Russian State Archives for Literature and Art (RGALI) the writer’s documents seized in 1961, that were archived in the Grossman Fund.
The first translations of Life and Fate came out in the 1980s in France (1983), Italy and Germany (1984), England (1985), and Sweden (1986), but international acclaim arrived in the 2000s, with new versions in English and French (2006), German (2007), and Italian (2008) based on the 1989 Russian edition, and new translations into Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, and other languages.

Maurizia Calusio
[30th June 2021]

Translation by Alice Bucelli

Russian editions

  • Grossman V., Stalingradskie shtaby, [excerpt from Zhizn’ i sud’ba], “Literaturnaia gazeta”, 2nd April 1960.
  • Grossman V., “Utrom i vecherom” [excerpt from Zhizn’ i sud’ba], “Literatura i zhizn’”, 10th June 1960.
  • Grossman V.,“V polku Berezkina” [excerpt from Zhizn’ i sud’ba], “Krasnaia zvezda”, 15th July, 20 July 1960.
  • Grossman V., “V kalmytskoi stepi” [excerpt from Zhizn’ i sud’ba], “Literatura i zhizn’”, 26th August 1960.
  • Grossman V., “V kalmytskoi stepi” [excerpt from Zhizn’ i sud’ba], “Vechernaia Moskva”, 14th September 1960.
  • Grossman V., Za pravoe delo: Glavy iz vtoroi knigi romana [it is Zhizn’ i sud’ba; part I, cap. 21-24, 70-72; 40-41, 51-52], “Kontinent”, n. 4, 1975: 179-216; n. 5, 1975: 7-39.
  • Grossman V., Zhizn’ i sud’ba [part I, cap. 42-49, 70-72; part II, cap. 1-4],“Kontinent”, n. 6, 1976: 151-171; n. 7, 1976: 95-112; n. 8, 1976: 111-133.
  • Grossman V., Zhizn’ i sud’ba, L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne [incompleted edition], 1980.
  • Grossman V., Zhizn’ i sud’ba: glavy iz romana [chapters from the novel], “Ogonёk”, n. 40, 1987: 19-22.
  • Grossman V., Zhizn’ i sud’ba, “Oktiabr’”, 1 (1988): 3-104; n. 2, 1988: 27-109; n. 3, 1988: 25-156; n. 4, 1988: 3-148 [censured and incompleted edition].
  • Grossman V., Zhizn’ i sud’ba, Knizhnaia Palata, Moskva 1988 [incompleted edition].
  • Grossman V., Zhizn’ i sud’ba, Knizhnaia Palata, Moskva 1989 [revised edition].


  • Grossman V., Vie et destin. Roman, Traduction de Alexis Berelowitch, avec la collaboration de Anne Coldefy-Faucard, Julliard-L’Age d’Homme, Paris-Lausanne 1983.
  • Grossman V., Leben und Schicksal, aus dem Russischen von Elisabeth Markstein, Hrsg. von Efim Etkind u. Simon Markish, Knaus, München-Hamburg, 1984.
  • Grossman V., Vita e destino, trad. it. a cura di Cristina Buongiorno, Jaca Book, Milano 1984 [2003].
  • Grossman V., Life and Fate, translated by Robert Chandler, Collins Harvill, London 1985.
  • Grossman V.,Vida y destino, traducida por Rosa María Bassols del francés, Editorial Seix Barral, Barcelona 1985.
  • Grossman V., Liv och öde, översättning av Hans Björkegren. Norstedt, Stockholm 1986.
  • Grossman V., Viață și destin, trad. şi note de Laurenţiu Checicheş, Editura Univers, Bucureşti 2000.
  • Grossman V., Life and Fate, translated by Robert Chandler, New York Review of Books, New York 2006.
  • Grossman V., Vie et destin [traduction revue et augmentée], in Œuvres, Edition établie et présentée par Tzvetan Todorov, éd. Robert Laffont, Paris 2006.
  • Grossman V., Vida y destino, traducida por Marta-Ingrid Rebón Rodríguez del ruso, Círculo de Lectores, Barcelona 2007.
  • Grossman V., Leben und Schicksal, aus dem Russischen von Madeleine von Ballestrem, Elisabeth Markstein, Annelore Nitschke und Arkadi Dorfmann, Claassen, Berlin 2007.
  • Grossman V., Vita e destino, trad. it. Claudia Zonghetti, Adelphi, Milano 2008.
  • Grossman V., Zycie i los, tłum. Jerzy Czech, przedm. Adama Pomorskiego, WAB, Warszawa 2009.
  • Grossman V., Život a osud, přeložil Milan Horák, Knižní klub, Praha 2009.
  • Grossman V., Vida e Destino, trad. Nina Guerra e Filipe Guerra, Dom Quixote, Lisboa 2011.
  • Grossman V., Vida e Destino, tradução Irineu Franco Perpetuo, Alfaguara, Rio de Janeiro 2014.


  • Bit-Iunan Iu., Fel’dman D., Vasilii Grossman: literaturnaia biografiia v istoriko-politicheskom kontekste, Neolit, Moskva 2016.
  • Bit-Iunan Iu., Polemika o tekstologicheskoi korrektnosti sovetskikh izdanii romana V.S. Grossmana Zhizn’ i sud’ba, “Vestnik RGGU. Seriia Istoriia. Filologiia. Kul’turologiia. Vostokovedenie”, 1 (2018): 101-107.
  • Bocharov A., Vasilii Grossman: Zhizn’, tvorchestvo, sud’ba, Sovetskii pisatel’, Moskva 1990.
  • Etkind E., Dvadtsat’ let spustia in V. Grossman, Zhizn’ i sud’ba, L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne 1980: V-XI.
  • Garrard C., Garrard J., The Bones of Berdiche: The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman, The Free Press, New York [tr. it. Id., Le Ossa di Berdičev, Marietti, Genova-Milano 2009].
  • Jampolskii B., Posledniaia vstrecha s Vasilem Grossmanom (Vmesto predisloviia), “Kontinent”, 8 (1976): 133-154.
  • Lipkin S., Zhizn’ i sud’ba Vasiliia Grossmana; A. Berzer, Proshchanie, Kniga, Moskva 1990.
  • Maddalena G., Tosco P. (eds.), Il romanzo della libertà: Vasilij Grossman tra i classici del XX secolo, Rubettino, Soveria Mannelli 2007.
  • Markish S., Le Cas Grossman, Juliard/L’Age d’Homme, Paris 1983.
  • Voinovich V., The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman and His Novel, “Survey: A Journal of East and West Studies”, 1 (1985): 186-188.


To cite this article:
Maurizia Calusio, Life and Fate (V. Grossman), in Voci libere in URSS. Letteratura, pensiero, arti indipendenti in Unione Sovietica e gli echi in Occidente (1953-1991), a cura di C. Pieralli, M. Sabbatini, Firenze University Press, Firenze 2021-, <>.
eISBN 978-88-5518-463-2
© 2021 Author(s)
Content license: CC BY 4.0