The “Oppressed” versus Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

"...whenever I’m discouraged in my work, I pick up one of his books again and his life inspires me to continue. They’re not easy reads, but what he went through to bring them to us was remarkable, and it will change your perspective on 'oppression' forever." - Phil Cooke

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josh p's picture

I'm still surprised that "Cancer Ward" is not available in audiobook. I've been wanting to read it for years but usually save my hard copy reading for dense theology that takes physical reading to grasp. Solzhenitsyn is a masterful writer. One of those authors that I'd like to read everything they have written. 

Fred Moritz's picture

You will find some of Solzhenitsyn dense - not theologically so much, but politically for sure.  I think I've read all of his work. We Never Make Mistakes is masterful satire. He wrote Cancer Ward after his personal battle with cancer.  One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch (check my spelling) is outstanding.  He has lots to say about the Russian Communist system, and about the Gulag Archipelago. His books should still be available in a public library.  It is worth reading the print books.

josh p's picture

Yeah I've read a lot of his books and they certainly aren't easy. Still better than some theology though! Much easier to listen to him (for me) since his books are quite long. 

Bert Perry's picture

....though yes, it's harder than a lot of lesser literature, and hard on the emotions at times as well.  And per Josh's comment, the old joke comes to mind:

Q.  How many Russian novelists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A.  One, but it takes him 400 pages to do it!

Really, in our times when we have so many people thinking there is nothing wrong intrinsically with socialism and communism, Solzhenitsyn (and Valladares and others) ought to be required reading.  BTW, I just learned that there is a museum of the Berlin Wall for the same reason.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

The 400 pages in English is because Russian like Koine Greek is highly inflected. So, it may take a few more English words to translate one Russian.

Bert Perry wrote:

....though yes, it's harder than a lot of lesser literature, and hard on the emotions at times as well.  And per Josh's comment, the old joke comes to mind:

Q.  How many Russian novelists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A.  One, but it takes him 400 pages to do it!

Really, in our times when we have so many people thinking there is nothing wrong intrinsically with socialism and communism, Solzhenitsyn (and Valladares and others) ought to be required reading.  BTW, I just learned that there is a museum on the Berlin Wall for the same reason.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Bert Perry's picture

.....though I'd have to suggest that at some point, the Russian novelists seem to be more patient at developing characters and stories, too.  They seem to have delighted in the process of observing people and their difficulties.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

M. Osborne's picture

I think both Dostoyevsky and Dickens published many works serially, i.e., in periodic magazines, which may explain a lot about their economics and their writing process. Just speculating.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA