Life and Fate: Vera and her Pilot
By Vasily Grossman
In a forest in northern Russia, Lenya, a pilot, longs to see his pregnant girlfriend, Vera. She is stranded in Stalingrad with her father, Stepan. Her mother (another sister of Lyuda) has drowned in the Volga. She watches the planes hoping to catch sight of Lenya.
Dramatised for radio by Jonathan Myerson
Lenya Viktorov ..... Luke Treadaway
Vera Spiridonov ..... Morven Christie
Pavel Andreyevich ..... Malcolm Tierney
Stepan Spiridonov ..... Kenneth Cranham
Skotnoy ..... Jonathan Forbes
Solmatin ..... Carl Prekopp
Mukhin ..... Simon Bubb
Zakabluka ..... Gerard McDermott
Original music by John Hardy with Rob Whitehead
Directed and Produced by Alison Hindell
Kenneth Branagh, Janet Suzman, David Tennant, Greta Scacchi and Harriet Walter star in this eight hour dramatisation of Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. This epic saga takes over every drama strand on Radio 4 this week.
Set against the ferocious Battle of Stalingrad, Life and Fate is a sweeping historical tale that charts the fate of both a nation and a family in the turmoil of war and is increasingly hailed as the most important Russian novel of the 20th century. Its comparison of Stalinism with Nazism was considered by Soviet authorities to be so dangerous that the manuscript itself was arrested and Grossman was told that it would not be published for at least 200 years. He died in 1964, never knowing that his book would be smuggled to the West and eventually published in 1980.