- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: FSG Adult; Reissue edition (Nov. 1 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374511993
- ISBN-13: 978-0374511999
- Product Dimensions: 15 x 3.6 x 20.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 767 g
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #90,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Cancer Ward Paperback – Nov 1 1991
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“A literary event of the first magnitude.” ―Time
“The most moving of Solzhenitsyn's novels.” ―Clifton Fadiman
“Solzhenitsyn's characteristic strategy for subduing space is to temporize it--to transform it into time . . . This transformation of space into time allows Solzhenitsyn to present a variegated group of people who are caught in a collective situation of relative isolation by following the through their daily routine . . . These forcibly restricted milieus provide a natural and persuasive metaphor for life itself . . . How or why Solzhenitsyn is able to succeed . . . I do not know . . . It is probably finally a matter of genius--which is to say, mystery. But the novels rise above the questions they propound and serve--as great literature always has done--to be both a challenge to and a triumph for the free spirit of man wherever it allows itself to exist.” ―Earl Rovit, American Scholar
About the Author
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in 1918. In February 1945, while he was captain of a reconnaissance battery of the Soviet Army, he was arrested and sentenced to an eight-year term in a labor camp and permanent internal exile, which was cut short by Khrushchev's reforms, allowing him to return from Kazakhstan to Central Russia in 1956. Although permitted to publish One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in 1962--which remained his only full-length work to have appeared in his homeland until 1990--Solzhenitsyn was by 1969 expelled from the Writers' Union. The publication in the West of his other novels and, in particular, of The Gulag Archipelago, brought retaliation from the authorities. In 1974, Solzhenitsyn was arrested, stripped of his Soviet citizenship, and forcibly flown to Frankfurt. Solzhenitsyn and his wife and children moved to the United States in 1976. In September 1991, the Soviet government dismissed treason charges against him; Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994. He died in Moscow in 2008.
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It is set in a clinic in Soviet ruled Uzbekistan for cancer patients ,in the mid 1950's ,shortly after the death of Joseph Stalin.
It deals with the personal stories and lives of many different characters
There are parallels between the cancer that ravages the bodies of the dying patients and the cancer of Communism that ravaged the once proud Russia.
The hero of the novel is Oleg Kostolgotov who has gone from being a soldier on the frontline of Russia's fight against the invading Nazi armies during world War II to a political prisoner doomed to destruction for falling foul of Stalin's psychopathic system to a cancer patient lingering in a rundown hospital
He lives life to the full however , even in this seemingly gloomy clinic.
His foil is the Communist Party hack Pavel Rusanov , a man who has no heart and soul at all other than the Communist Party itself , in whose name he has cold-bloodedly ruined countless lives.
Now he lies in the cancer ward layed low by a disease that even the mighty Party cannot save him from .
Kostoglotov lives life to the full in the ward and has an interesting relationship with two remarkable women -the dedicated and beautiful Dr Vera Gangart and the vibrant and attractive young nurse Zoya.
Through the stories of the many people in this book we learn of the type of society they lived in ,and there are profound observations on so many subjects in life that are extremely memorable.
Always in the classic Russian combination between hope and depression where neither completely triumph over the other , but rather vie in a dependant type of antagonism .
The human struggle to find hope and beauty in the most tragic of settings is what this novel evokes so well. Soviet medicine, cancer, a Zek fresh from the Gulag, and in a twilight turned dawn, Solzhenitsyn finds for his semi-autobiographical protagonist happiness, not only in winning victories against a malignant tumor, but in thoughts of perhaps one more summer to live, with nights sleeping under the stars, of three beech trees that stand like ancient guardians of an otherwise empty steppe horizon, a dog that shared his life there, and of a young nurse and spinster doctor, both of whom he hoped at times to love.
The picture one often got (accurately) of the Soviet Union was of greyness, gloom, uniform drabnes, and of a totalitarian police state. This book serves to remind the reader that, despite such circumstances, even desparately sick human being might still seek, and find, happiness in his own, private world. Along with that, Solzhenitsyn never lets us forget the utter corruption of the Soviet state, often in the person of Ruasov, an ailing bureaucrat who has managed to turn personnel management into an exquisite art form, as an instrument of psychological torture, slowly administered.
Of all Solzehenitsyn's works, this is my favorite. The people one encounters are vividly real, and the ending isn't what one would think (or hope), but is fitting, nonetheless.
-Lloyd A. Conway
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