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Cancer Ward: A Novel (FSG Classics) Paperback – November 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
Top Customer Reviews
This is a very typical Russian novel in that the setting is very stationary, the plot is slow moving and not well-defined in many parts, but it is also psychologically deep and gives the reader an immensely profound look at the minds and souls of its characters. But what separates this from so many Russian novels, especially those of the 20th century is that it slams the Communist regime while taking a bleak, Dostoevsky-like view of man as well. Kostoglotov's experiences at the end of this book are not as cathartic as those of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy characters, but the hope that he has is clearly the same in that it stems from a source greater than him or any man. This is an emotionally challenging book and the interpretation of the ending is divisive (just read some reviews here to see both opinions), but that just adds to the genius of this book. I believe the ending is phenomenally beautiful and Solzhenitsyn at his best.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Kostoglotov, the main character, is a man unfairly exiled under Stalin. He is a normal person like you or me who is living a life of perpetual exile. And then he gets cancer and comes to the ward barely clinging to life.
The book chronicles the lives of several people in the Cancer Ward. The book follows the lives of a couple of nurses that Kostoglotov flirts with and the life of a nurse he doesn't flirt with. There is the young student, the government official, and other cancer patients. Each one deals with cancer in their own way.
It is a sad, yet uplifting book about cancer and about Stalin, who really was a big dose of cancer for Russia. More people need to know about how cruel Stalin was. How he exiled people in his purges for no reason other than his own paranoia. Good people like Kostoglotov had their lives stolen from them.
In the end all Kostoglotov wants to do is get out of the cancer ward and back to his friends in his town of perpetual exile. Before he goes home he visits a zoo. I don't want to ruin the ending for you, but every time I read the ending I cry.
Thanks Mr. Solzhenitsyn for exposing Stalin for what he was and giving me the opportunity to read about everyday Russian people.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
kind of dry reading over all informative book on cancer in days gone by in RussiaPublished 7 days ago by Wallace E. Tilander
Dark novel that resonates with the human experiences of suffering and death, love and hope.Published 1 month ago by John M.B. O'Callaghan
Cancer Ward, like Gulag Archipelago, is a heavy read, exposing the harsh reality and cruelty of Russia during the Stalin era.Published 3 months ago by Carolina
I re-read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "Cancer Ward" for the first time in a number of years this week. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Richard Ranger
Very worth reading but the many Russian names make it a bit confusing.Published 5 months ago by Charlotte Klein
This book takes you where the author "went" with all the questions and answers, hope and despair people have when ill.Published 5 months ago by L.G.
very interesting study of characters in the process of learning & how they cope with their diagnosis of cancer...and insightful look into communist Russia in the 50'sPublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer