An Armenian sketchbook by Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Yury

By Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Yury Bit-Yunan

An NYRB Classics Original

Few writers needed to confront as some of the final century’s mass tragedies as Vasily Grossman, who wrote with terrifying readability in regards to the Shoah, the conflict of Stalingrad, and the phobia Famine within the Ukraine. An Armenian Sketchbook, even though, indicates us a really diversified Grossman, awesome for his tenderness, heat, and feel of fun.
      
After the  Soviet executive confiscated—or, as Grossman constantly positioned it, “arrested”—Life and Fate, he took at the activity of revising a literal Russian translation of an extended Armenian novel. the radical was once of little curiosity to him, yet he wanted cash and used to be obviously pleased of an excuse to trip to Armenia. An Armenian Sketchbook is his account of the 2 months he spent there.
      
This is by means of some distance the main own and intimate of Grossman’s works, endowed with an air of absolute spontaneity, as if he's easily chatting to the reader approximately his impressions of Armenia—its mountains, its historic church buildings, its people—while additionally interpreting his personal options and moods. a superbly human account of go back and forth to a remote position, An Armenian Sketchbook additionally has the vibrant charm of a self-portrait

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Sample text

Andreas has a leonine forehead, heavy overhanging brows, deep lines around his mouth, a large nose, the jowls of Field Marshal Hindenburg, and bulging yellowy-gray eyes that are at once watery and inflamed. These eyes contain kindness and exhaustion, indomitable rage and terrible anguish, deep thought and crazed fury. The inhabitants of Tsakhkadzor feel sorry for Andreas. The sly and thrifty Karapet-aga,[7] who once lived in Syria and who gave up a tavern in Aleppo for a restaurant-cum-bar in Tsakhkadzor, is always ready to give him something to eat.

What am I to do? I rush into a third courtyard—and am filled with despair. I see a network of little staircases and balconies, an old man sipping coffee from a little cup, a group of women who break off their conversation to look at me. I smile confusedly and turn back. Everywhere I look, there is life! What am I to do? There is nothing poetic about my thoughts now. Should I try to find Martirosyan as quickly as possible? But what help would that be? I can’t turn up in his house and, ignoring his attempts to introduce me to his wife and family, ignoring everyone’s questions, make a dash for the toilet.

Now Andreas lives alone in a small stone house. He has two ewes who feel nothing but trustful love for him, seeing nothing the least strange about his madness, his singing during the night, and his fits of fury and despair. Whenever anyone mentions Andranik Pasha, Andreas weeps. Probably, no one since Shakespeare’s time could better have played the role of mad old Lear. Of average height, broad-shouldered, and quite stout, probably suffering from edema, wearing a warm, rather ragged peasant jacket, with a sheepskin hat on his head and a large, gnarled staff in his hand, Andreas wanders about the steep little streets of Tsakhkadzor.

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