Kenneth Branagh, Greta Scacchi, Mark Bonnar, Ann Mitchell, Doon Mackichan, Kenneth Cranham and more star in a dark and honest account of the epic battle of Stalingrad by celebrated war reporter and author, Vasily Grossman.
Translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, Stalingrad is a prequel to Grossman’s novel Life And Fate which was adapted by Radio 4 in 2011 and featuring many of the same acclaimed cast.
- Two part drama based on war reporter Vasily Grossman’s account also stars Greta Scacchi and Mark Bonnar
- Anton Lesser reads Grossman’s private journal - translated into English for the first time - in a Book Of The Week special
To accompany the adaption Radio 4 also gives over Book Of The Week to Stalingrad: Destiny Of A Novel; featuring readings from Grossman's private journal, translated here for the first time ever, chronicling his novel's tortuous progress through Soviet censorship from 1950-53. A period when Stalin's last campaign of terror was unfolding against his own Jewish population. Written and presented by author and historian Catherine Merridale, with readings by Anton Lesser, the five-part series tells the dramatic backstory behind the novel and the beginnings of Grossman’s own journey towards Soviet heresy. He was canny enough to keep a personal diary of the process of submitting his manuscript, translated into English for the first time it reveals the beginnings of a maddening journey that became an epic battle of wills. Detailing the pressure of Soviet forces attempting to censor Grossman, and the changing tides of approval and disapproval he faced from his comrades.
If it works like the Life and Fate adaptation, the broadcast will be available to listen to (and maybe download) for a brief time after the air dates at the BBC Radio 4 site.
The Life and Fate adaptation was well done and I really enjoyed it, so I'm excited to see the Stalingrad adaptation. My biggest concern, though, is that it will be only four hours long. That is a lot of material to compress into such a short period of time, so obviously there will be cuts to the story. Regardless, congratulations once again to Robert and Elizabeth Chandler for their translation and making this available in print so the adaptation could be done.
The readings from Grossman's journal should be fascinating as well, although it will probably go through some of the same material covered in Vasily Grossman and the Soviet Century by Alexandra Popoff. I'll be listening anyway. I'll try and remember to post on it again as the episodes air. Spread the word!
Saturday 30 November, 2.45-4.45pm
Sunday 1 December, 3-5pm
Stalingrad: Destiny Of A Novel
Monday 2 December, 9.45-10am (1/5)
"Robert Chandler talks about Vasily Grossman and how he (Robert) and his wife Elizabeth went about translating the novel Stalingrad."
I've linked this elsewhere, but I want to include this here, too. For more on Grossman, see Yury Bit-Yunan and Robert Chandler's article Vasily Grossman: Myths and Counter-Myths on sorting out facts of Grossman's life from “Soviet intelligentsia folklore."