A fine new translation ... With The Story of a Life, Paustovsky imbued Soviet literature with tender curiosity about ordinary people and loving care for the natural world. He captured all the beauty, turbulence and injustice of his youth, and the strange blend of horrific violence and intoxicating hope that arrived with the revolution ... Part of the charm of this book is Paustovsky’s inveterate lyricism in the face of cataclysm. He was so in love with nature, with beauty, with the small joys and tragedies of ordinary life that he was distractible even during the most momentous events.
One of Russian literature's finest works ... Douglas Smith’s translation captures its appeal: not the scope of events, but the moments of beauty that shine throughout ... At its best, The Story of a Life rivals any autobiography in world literature. Its hero is imagination itself. While the Soviets professed absolute certainty regarding all important questions of life, Paustovsky detected mystery, complexity and hidden poetry everywhere.
The use of the word 'story' is crucial; this is a work of literature rather than history ... No review can do justice to this book. For 800 pages, Paustovsky is the reader's companion on a journey that seems to encompass all of life, one suffused throughout by the author's optimism. The length may seem daunting and the names alien to those unfamiliar with Russian literature, but the book offers a powerful literary experience for which no recommendation can be as high or as fervent as this terrific book is for itself.
Lyrical ... Epic ... Paustovsky’s prose can border on the florid but here his adjectives sustain pace as well as develop imagery. The accumulation of repeated and selected adjectives...not only gives a devastating image of the soldiers, but a sense of the exhausting nature of the work. It’s when Paustovsky tries to make grander, more generalised philosophical statements that the narrative becomes stilted.