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Cancer Ward [Paperback]

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn , Alexander Dolberg
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

1 May 2003
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 Withdrawn from publication in Russia in 1964, it became, along with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a work that awoke the conscience of the world. As Robert Service wrote of its appeal in the Independent, 'In waging his struggle against Soviet communism, Solzhenitsyn the novelist preferred the rapier to the cudgel'.

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Cancer Ward + One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Gulag Archipelago [Abridged] (Harvill Press Editions)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (1 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099575515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099575511
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Solzhenitsyn is a man of is a privilege to be Solzhenitsyn's contemporary" (Observer)

"There has been no such analysis of the corrupting power of the police state in Soviet literature" (Listener)

"He is one of the towering figures of the age, as writer, as moralist, as hero" (Edward Cranshaw)

Book Description

'Without a doubt the greatest Russian novelist' Sunday Times

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Multi-Layered and Uniquely Russian Account 17 Jun 2008
This work of Russian literature -which is quite epic in scope-deals with many themes.
It is set in a clinic in Soviet ruled Uzbekistan for cancer patients ,in the mid 1950's ,shortly after the death of Joseph Stalin.
It deals with the personal stories and lives of many different characters
There are parallels between the cancer that ravages the bodies of the dying patients and the cancer of Communism that ravaged the once proud Russia.
The hero of the novel is Oleg Kostolgotov who has gone from being a soldier on the frontline of Russia's fight against the invading Nazi armies during world War II to a political prisoner doomed to destruction for falling foul of Stalin's psychopathic system to a cancer patient lingering in a rundown hospital
He lives life to the full however , even in this seemingly gloomy clinic.
His foil is the Communist Party hack Pavel Rusanov , a man who has no heart and soul at all other than the Communist Party itself , in whose name he has cold-bloodedly ruined countless lives.
Now he lies in the cancer ward layed low by a disease that even the mighty Party cannot save him from .

Kostoglotov lives life to the full in the ward and has an interesting relationship with two remarkable women -the dedicated and beautiful Dr Vera Gangart and the vibrant and attractive young nurse Zoya.

Through the stories of the many people in this book we learn of the type of society they lived in ,and there are profound observations on so many subjects in life that are extremely memorable.
Always in the classic Russian combination between hope and depression where neither completely triumph over the other , but rather vie in a dependant type of antagonism .
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly observed! 30 Jan 2009
I love this book. It is superbly well observed and written and shows the many different angles of the human experience of cancer as well as giving a very strong and interesting historical perspective and political analogy. Reading this book has got me through quite a dark phase of my own experience of advanced cancer.
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inimitable 8 Sep 2001
Simply put, one of the greatest novels of all time. This may seem a rather grandiose and even foolhardy statement to make, but I firmly believe it to be true. Supremely provocative and involving, Cancer Ward tells the story of Kostoglotov, a man who suffers hardship at the hands of the Soviet State, and the cancerous corruption it represents. The disillusion with what socialism has become serves as a backdrop to the story of a number of men, all fighting to overcome cancer. There is so much I could say about this most wonderful of books. As it is, I cannnot advise you strongly enough to read it. Not only is it a devastatingly incisive analysis of the soviet state, but a beautiful study of the human spirit.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heart felt examination of post Stalin russia 20 July 2000
By A Customer
Strange how one can learn so much about Russia in the post Stalin years from a book about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn own experiances in the cancer wards. To be honest I was a little wary of reading a 500 page novel about a hospital, but i'm glad I took the time and effect. It is very emotional and the characters within are deep and real. An interesting, heart felt and informative read, even better if you can cope with some of the unpronouncable russian names that appear within it.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
It touches an immensely heavy subject - cancer, with its fears, pains and horrible experiences. At the same time it gives a huge look inside people both oppressed and supportive to Soviet regime. A book on the character, love and passion that can still exist under both physical and moral suppression - both under the regime and one's health. Must reak for those wishing to understand Soviet mentality of both prisoners and regime's supporters. The most honest and objective author for Stalin's era! I wish I could meet him personally and talk about our past, present and future, even though I am not Russian but grew up in the USSR, in the city where the book's narrative took place - Tashkent.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, life affirming 3 Dec 2000
By A Customer
Contrary to what might be assumed from the title this book is life affirming, particularly in the form of the main protagonist, Oleg Kostoglotov. If you want to be informed about the state of Russia in the immediate post-Stalin era or want to read a superbly written indictment of collectivism, or simply want a good old fashioned love story - this is for you! Has to be one of the top one hundred novels ever written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By noc
Another wonderful book by Solzhenitsyn - truly one of the greatest writers of all time. There's so much to say about this book and so much in it that I thnk it would be foolhardy of me to start - I'd never finish! So thought-provoking on so many vitally important subjects e.g. human relationships, emotional needs, facing illness and death, medical practice, frustration and bureaucracy, politics, betrayal, social structures and tension, Soviet history and society, even what constitutes happiness. A meaty, stimulating and evocative read to be revelled in. What a talent! Impressive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cancer Ward 13 May 2014
By mammia3
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's a good book, the writing is brilliant. I read it many years ago and wanted to read it again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful parody of what it was like to live under communism
Would never swap places but the book really gives some insight into how medicine has changed and how we are all equal at times but not in this case thanks to political ideals.
Published 3 months ago by Mr Benjamin Nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars A Genius
His greatest novel, indeed, one of the greatest works of fiction ever written. This massive work follows in the finest traditions of great Russian Literature over the previous 200... Read more
Published 9 months ago by P. Ronayne
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
This is an excellent book. The story is set in a cancer ward with a rich cast of characters illustrating life under Soviet rule. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2012 by Tim
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This is an amazing book. The descriptions of the characters, their personalities, what they look like, their history, and how they are thinking and feeling is second to none. Read more
Published on 18 Sep 2011 by Pluto
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but unfocussed
I've owned this book for nearly a decade without having read it for some reason, and now that I have, I must admit that I'm not terribly impressed. Read more
Published on 14 May 2010 by Blackbeard
5.0 out of 5 stars cure for cancer
With an outlook as bleak as a Russian winter, but a message like the faint hope of spring, a Communist Party member whose incarceration on the ward due to a huge growth on his neck... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2007 by GRBD
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, life affirming!
Contrary to what might be assumed from the title this book is life affirming, particularly in the form of the main protagonist, Oleg Kostoglotov. Read more
Published on 21 May 2005 by still searching
4.0 out of 5 stars A work of substance
Whilst I cannot concur with the "greatest novel of the 20th century" and other such epithets, this is certainly a fine novel. Read more
Published on 19 April 2005 by GeeJayBee
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