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This article is taken from PN Review 214, Volume 40 Number 2, November - December 2013.

Letter to Nikita Khrushchev, translated by Yvonne Green and Sergey Makarov Vasily Grossman
Vasily Grossman's manuscript of his epic work Life and Fate, widely acknowledged as the greatest Russian novel of the twentieth century, was seized by the KGB in 1961. On 25 July 2013 this manuscript, together with other papers confiscated from Grossman and elsewhere, was released by the Russian authorities. As a result several drafts and missing chapters are believed to have become available for the first time. (See 'Russia Beyond the Headlines' report at: http://rbth.ru/arts/2013/08/02/grossmans_life_and_fate_manuscript_has_left_the_secret_archives_28595.html).

Grossman was devastated by what he described as the imprisonment of his seminal work, which had been over a decade in the writing, and which he had imagined would have been permitted publication in light of the repudiation of Stalin's excesses by the then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The Russian Federation press release accompanying the delivery of the documents refers to Grossman having written to Khrushchev asking if he would intervene in order to liberate the manuscript.  

Attached is the text of that letter as it appears in Yvonne Green's and Sergey Makarov's forthcoming translation of the Russian poet Semyon Lipkin's memoir Kvadriga. Lipkin was a close friend and confidant of Grossman, with whom Grossman had left a working draft of Life and Fate which Lipkin hid from the KGB and whose publication he initiated in the West, and to whom Grossman also gave a copy of the Khrushchev letter.

The letter makes enthralling reading: a dispossessed writer making a plea to a Soviet leader with as close to absolute power as might be imagined, which plea ...


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