FROM THE NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO
‘Solzhenitsyn is one of the towering figures of the age, as a writer, as moralist, as hero’ Edward Crankshaw
After years in enforced exile on the Kazakhstan steppes, a cancer diagnosis brings Oleg Kostoglotov to Ward 13. Brutally treated in squalid conditions, and faced with ward staff and other patients from across the Soviet Union, Kostoglotov finds himself thrown once again into the gruelling mechanics of a state still haunted by Stalinism.
One of the great allegorical masterpieces of world literature, Cancer Ward is both a deeply compassionate study of people facing terminal illness and a brilliant dissection of the “cancerous” Soviet police state. Withdrawn from publication in Russia in 1964, it became, along with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a work that awoke the conscience of the world.
Perhaps the most famous work of fiction dealing directly with the disease
And what does Solzhenitsyn say about cancer? How does he reach me, in Australia, with his Russian book? He shows me something valuable that I discovered during my own medical treatment. The people who are involved in cancer -- the sufferer, the doctors, the nurses, the orderlies -- are often occupied less with the cancer than with each other. There are small societies of patients and medical workers in a hospital ward, and in those societies people share what they have: their love and resentment, their stories and observations.
Solzhenitsyn was a great writer as the result of the collision of a particular personality and an awesome subject matter
Solzhenitsyn is a man of genius…it is a privilege to be Solzhenitsyn’s contemporary
There has been no such analysis of the corrupting power of the police state in Soviet literature