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“The administrative staff is supposed to be at Radzivillov along with all the transport carts, but in my opinion, Brody would be more interesting, the battle is being fought for Brody. Ivan’s opinion prevails, some of the cart drivers are saying the Poles are in Brody, the transport carts are fleeing, the army staff has left, we drive to Radzivillov. We arrive in the night. All this time we’ve been eating carrots and peas, penetrating hunger, we’re covered in dirt, haven’t slept. I took a hut on the outskirts of Radzivillov. Good choice, my knack for this sort of thing is getting better. An old man, a girl. The buttermilk is marvelous, we had all of it, they’re making tea with milk, Ivan is going to get some sugar, machine gun fire, the thunder of carts, we run out of the house, the horse is suddenly limping, that’s how things are sometimes, we are running in panic, we’re being shot at, we have no idea what’s going on, they’ll catch us any moment now, we make a dash for the bridge, pandemonium, we fall into the marshes, wild panic, a dead man lying there, abandoned carts, shells, tachankas. Traffic jam, night, terror, carts standing in an endless line, we are moving, a field, we stop, we sleep, stars. What upsets me most in all of this is the lost tea, I’m so upset, it’s peculiar. I think about it all night and hate the war.” – Isaac Babel, 1920 Diary (trans. Peter Constantine)

Published inIsaac BabelLit & Crit

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