At the height of Stalin's postwar terror, Innokenty, a young diplomat and scion of a corrupt ruling class, discovers an earlier and more spiritual tradition than that adopted by the October Revolution, the beginning of a process which is Solzhenitsyn's basic theme: the individual's experience of acquiring an immortal soul.
Unwisely but generously, Innokenty helps a friend in danger of arrest, only to be arrested himself and sent to a special prison. This, the archetype of the Gulag, is described with masterful psychological insight. There are no heroes and hardly any villains; oppressors are no less victims then the oppressed.
In the great tradition of the Russian novel, The First Circle is both a brooding account of human nature and a scrupulously exact description of a historical period.
"A great novel... A majestic work of genius"
"The First Circle is arguably the greatest Russian novel of the century"
"A future generation of Russians will be able to come to terms with their history through books like Doctor Zhivago and The First Circle"