Read The Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Free Online
Book Title: The Cancer Ward|
The author of the book: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Edition: Dell Publishing Company
Date of issue: February 1969
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 678 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2347 times
Reader ratings: 6.7
ISBN 13: 9780440010098
Read full description of the books:
Pain in its purest form!
At the time when I first read this, I didn't know much of the Soviet Union, or of writers' fate within that state, or of cancer and its silent, treacherous spread in secret weak spots of the body. I was a young teenager, and had been told that this might be a bit too difficult for me to take from my parents' bookshelf - which constituted a natural invitation to do exactly that of course. The ensuing problem - nightmares I could not talk about, as I had read the book in secret - made me try to forget it for the time being. Now, some twenty-five years later, I know so much more about all those topics that frightened me back then - and they scare me even more today, knowing their true impact. Some childhood fears disappear, or turn into nostalgic feelings or humorous memories. But some fears grow with knowledge - and the Cancer Ward plays on exactly that kind of human terror.
Although it is meant to be a metaphorical story, indicating the macrocosm of the state in the microcosm of the ward, there is no real need for symbolism in the frustratingly hopeless cancer ward, where people with desperate diagnoses gather without any previous connection or anything in common except for the silent killer they have discovered within their bodies. There is true equality in misery, but other than that, the representatives of different social layers in the state have a collection of very diverse stories to tell. Of course the disease is supposed to symbolise how the Soviet Union breaks down from within its own structure, not through force from the outside, and the characters are carefully chosen to illustrate the complete disaster, among party faithful, successful career politicians or dissenters, among carefree or conscientious, young or old people. The disease affects all, and there is no protection.
Now that the state described in the novel does not exist anymore, the book could be seen as obsolete, or as a historical document. But it isn't obsolete. It can now be read in a more universal sense - and be appreciated as a work of art with characters suffering from the human condition beyond specific local circumstances. Cancer still strikes silently, disrupting everyday lives of families, leaving them pending between hope and fear, and ultimately waiting for the slow inevitable progress towards the end. Even symbolically, the Cancer Ward can transcend the peculiar oppression of the Soviet State and symbolise any country in the process of self-destruction. There is never just one single occurrence that weakens a political structure beyond hope: only when many vital organs of the state are simultaneously struck, the political body falls hopelessly ill.
To end a glum review of a dark book on a positive note: since Solzhenitsyn wrote his novel, science and history have gained more knowledge, and might have better cures than those that were available in the 1970s, literally and metaphorically speaking.
I still sometimes have nightmares, though.
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Read information about the authorAleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was a Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his writings he helped to make the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best-known works.
Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. He was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and returned to Russia in 1994. Solzhenitsyn was the father of Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a conductor and pianist.
Alexander Solzenitsyn (English, alternate)
Αλεξάντρ Σολζενίτσιν (Greek)
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