Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) by Harold Bloom

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By Harold Bloom

Regardless of persecution and censorship in his place of birth, this Russian author has been in a position to produce such vital works as in the future within the lifetime of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago. This name, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a part of Chelsea condo Publishers’ smooth severe perspectives sequence, examines the foremost works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn via full-length serious essays through professional literary critics. additionally, this name includes a brief biography on Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a chronology of the author’s existence, and an introductory essay written by way of Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the arts, Yale collage.

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The stroke of genius on Solzhenitsyn's part comes in placing this statement at the conclusion of the discussion of Tolstoy's theory of nonviolence. Solzhenitsyn here pits two of Tolstoy's many varieties of innocence against each other; he opposes Stiva Oblonsky's innocence about the effects of his actions on others, an innocence hardly distinguishable from irresponsibility, to Tolstoy's way of absolving himself of responsibility for the evil in the world by proclaiming nonviolence as a form of withdrawal from the world.

On the other hand, Yelizaveta Anatolyevna, a woman from Leningrad who was deported during the thirties, wishes she had a chance to live for love. Children in schools write compositions: on the unhappy, tragic, ruined, and I don't know what else life of Anna Karenina. But was Anna unhappy? She chose passion—and paid for passion, that's happiness! She was a free and proud person! But if soldiers' overcoats and hats in peacetime come into the house where you were born and have lived since birth, and order your whole family to leave this house and this city with only what your weak arms can carry away?

Still, substantial differences remain between The First Circle and Cancer Ward; the characters of Cancer Ward are not intense intellectuals, and the government is not holding them against their will. They discuss literature, often uncertainly; they never parody it. If The First Circle is not more specific (in dealing with the horrors of Stalinism) and more general (in its discussions of art and the human condition), Cancer Ward has greater directness in its treatment of the personal concerns of love and death.

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