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The Russian Nobelist's semiautobiographical novel set in a Soviet cancer ward shortly after Stalin's death
One of the great allegorical masterpieces of world literature, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward is both a deeply compassionate study of people facing terminal illness and a brilliant dissection of the cancerous Soviet police state.
Cancer Ward, which has been compared to the masterpiece of another Nobel Prize winner, The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, examines the relationship of a group of people in the cancer ward of a provincial Soviet hospital in 1955, two years after Stalin's death. While the experiences of the central character, Oleg Kostoglotov, closely reflect the author's own—Solzhenitsyn became a patient in a cancer ward in the mid-1950s, on his release from a labor camp, and later recovered—the patients, as a group, represent a remarkable cross section of contemporary Russian characters and attitudes, both under normal circumstances and then reexamined at the eleventh hour of illness. A seminal work from one of the most powerful voices in twentieth century literature, Cancer Ward offers an extraordinary portrait of life in the Soviet Union.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist and historian, and the winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature. He served as a decorated commander in the Red Army during World War II before he was arrested for anti-Soviet propaganda and sentenced to eight years in a Soviet labor camp, where he drew inspiration for his controversial novel A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Exiled in 1974, he returned to Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and died in Moscow in 2008.