Home > Uncategorized > Victor Astafiev: On sunny days in peacetime all places are different, in wartime all are alike

Victor Astafiev: On sunny days in peacetime all places are different, in wartime all are alike

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on peace and war

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Victor Astafiev
From My Friend (Evgeny Nosov)
Translated by Leonard Stoklitsky

Next morning a blustering wind began to chase leaves along the river and to whirl feathers and dust over the road. Afterwards it began to rain, and the Kursk countryside at once looked like all the other places I have ever seen in bad weather. Remember that wise man Tolstoy? “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” As far as places are concerned, it works the other way around. On sunny days in peacetime they are all different, but in bad weather and in wartime they all look the same.

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“Holy Virgin’s grass,” my friend repeated as we walked along beside a rotting split-rail fence between the road and an old apple orchard. That is the mental picture I retain of him – holding a tiny flower in his huge hand, a flower that preserves its fresh young fragrance until the snow falls, even when cut with the hay; neither drought nor dust; neither beast nor fowl, nor man trampling upon it, can quench its pulsating power of eternal spring.

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