0003 | Cancer Ward – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

REVIEW
I started this wondering where the novel was going to come from. Then it crept up and hit me with such force that I was left reeling for the rest of the book. Each chapter is a gem worthy of meditation in itself and Solzhenitsyn strings these gems into a stunning creation. The characters are exquisitely sculptured; there’s so much of the author in Kostoglotov that it makes for a fascinating read just following this one man through the book and wondering how much of the character is based on fact and how much imaginary. A truly great book…

It was made all the more poignant by the fact that I have one close friend and very close relative presently fighting cancer. Hmmm…

OPENING LINE:
On top of everything, the cancer wing was Number 13.

QUOTES:
“What can divide human beings on earth once they are all faced with death?”
“You can’t know everything in the world. Whatever happens, you’ll die a fool.”
“We are so attached to the earth, and yet we are incapable of holding on to it.

WORDS:
anamnesis: medical history – the case history of a medical patient as recalled by the patient

CLOSING LINE:
An evil man threw tobacco in the Macaque Rhesus’s eyes. Just like that…

RATING:
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb

FINISHED:
2007 – Jan

  • Mavrinan February 13, 2007, 3:26 am

    I think what I appreciate most is the old doctor thinkiing about what life should be, a reflection of eternity.

    My story of reading Cancer Ward is here. http://yeansol.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-is-great-about-solzhenitsyn.html

    Reply
  • Cipriano April 23, 2007, 1:52 am

    I could not agree more with your assessment and rating of this book. One of my favorite novels of all time.
    This will be a very stupid comment, a dumb ting to say, but CW has one of the most memorable [for me] closing lines, ever. Often, when I am in a bookstore or at a book sale and see a copy of CW, I will open it just to read the last line[s]. Kind of a weird habit, I know.
    You are planning to read Applebaum’s “Gulag”? I have oft-looked at that hefty book and have wanted to read it.
    — Cip

    Reply
  • John April 23, 2007, 11:11 pm

    Yeah… I’ve also just finished The First Circle and wanted a break from Gulag-ish things for a while. In time I’ll be back to it along with that Stalin book!

    Reply
  • Steve August 6, 2008, 1:31 pm

    What I appreciate about your post is your picture is the identical edition of Cancer Ward I have had for years. (That book has been to Africa and back with me twice).

    One mystery though — what on earth do seagulls have to do with the story? Tashkent is miles from any sea, so is Kok Terek.

    Reply
  • martin July 14, 2009, 9:15 pm

    Great book. It really hit home after dealing with cancer with my aunt and grandfather.

    Reply
  • Kelly September 13, 2009, 2:33 am

    I have just finished reading this book, and wow, this author really hit a nerve in this story, It really digs into details regarding cancer treatment and the ways people cope with certain apects of dealing with cancer. I recommend this book to anyone who has been touched by cancer in their lives.

    Reply
  • kristel Hart September 1, 2014, 4:22 pm

    Love your format for reviews. Thanks for stopping by my review and your comments. Love this author’s writing.

    Reply

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