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Cancer Ward

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  7,071 ratings  ·  343 reviews
(From inside front cover) From the author of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The First Circle a novel... "of beauty, of tragedy, of what is unkillable in the human spirit..."

"The most moving of Solzhenitsyn's novels... Its celebration of life, the nobility with which it faces a world of decay, disease and death, and its passion for individual freedom -- these qu
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Mass Market Paperback, 559 pages
Published 1969 by Bantam Books, Inc. (first published 1968)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brad
Do I remember the Cold War? You bet I do. I think about it every day. It is as fundamental a part of my upbringing -- as defining of me as Catholicism, American Patriotism, Canadian Anti-Americanism, homophobia, abuse and bisexuality.

It wasn't just something that was happening in the world. In my household, with an American father, a U.S. Coast Guard Veteran (he was a Coastie who was all set to go to Vietnam with U.S. Coast Guard Squadron One -- and wanted to go -- when the U.S. finally pulled o
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Kim
Cancer Ward … hmmm… Oh, Cancer Ward….

What was I expecting from you? Certainly not a frolicky day in the park… no Maurice Chevalier dance routines. Nope. I can’t say I was duped.

Cancer sucks. Hell, I’m not spouting some fresh angle on an old dictum. Just nod and agree, folks. Most of us have had some dealings with it, some more than others… it’s one of the nastiest things out there… rots you from the inside out, leaves you to dwell on things left unaccomplished and fills your head with messy wo
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Henry Avila
Scene: Tashkent,Uzbekistan, in Central Asia,the old Soviet Union. Two years after the death of Stalin(1955).Oleg Kostoglotov is lying on the floor of a provincial hospital.At the entrance to the cancer ward. Which is unpromising named , the 13th wing.He can't get admitted until a space is available. Kostoglotov, a survivor of the Gulag. And a permanent exile, can wait.The very sick Russian has little hope for recovery. Finally, Oleg gets in.Nine beds in two rows ,separated by an aisle in the roo ...more
Speranza
Like the blood transfusion Kostoglotov received from Gangard, I literally felt this book flow through my veins. I was wary of the injection at the beginning, a bit numb in the middle and completely intoxicated toward he end.

In fact, I think this might be the best piece of literature I have come across so far in my life.

First of all - the characters. Despite being confined to the same small space and sharing a common fate, they are very colourful, different from each other and interesting in thei
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☽ Moon Rose ☯
As the cliche goes, money is the root of all evil, and many would agree that indeed it is. On the contrary, it contradicts the essence of what had become human living since time immemorial. As human living immersed itself voluntarily in the deep dark materiality of existence, as it is beleaguered by the sensual pleasures of physicality. In truth, the want of money is only a direct object. It appears only as the end goal to attain the inexhaustible, human yearning for material happiness . This bu ...more
Judy Vasseur
"Well, what have we here? Another nice little cancer!"

"The hard lump of his tumor—unexpected, meaningless and quite without use—had dragged him in like a fish on a hook and flung him onto this iron bed—a narrow, mean bed, with creaking springs and an apology for a mattress."

Solzhenitsyn writes beautifully about human physical, moral, social, and political conditions; over-layering each consideration one upon the other. His books do not depress me, I find them powerful and hopeful documents to th
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Aishie
So, this is not quite a joyous, fluffy marshmallow, look at the cute puppies, feel good frolic through a meadow. Which, in fairness, the title does go a long way to dispelling any thoughts you might be harbouring on that front! What it is, is a hard hitting allegory about the Soviet Union and re chaos it was in trying to recuperate after Stalins reign of terror and how difficult it was for some to leave this behind, and for others who we're rebelling against the poison. Read literally- it's a lo ...more
Bethan
The greyness of the cancer theme (it's set in a cancer ward) is just like a mirroring backdrop for the Soviet Union that it showcases. Vignettes of the lives of patients, doctors, nurses and others; from the high-ranking and staunch Soviet bureaucrat Rusanov to the poor exile Kostoglotov, it breaks their political and ideological positions down to their narrower human concerns and desires, such as the materialism of Rusanov's home that he enjoys, or Kostoglotov's desire for a woman that takes up ...more
Lisa
I enjoyed the allegorical nature of this book.

However, the characterization was what struck me most.

Particularly hat of Dontsova with whom I deeply identified, who fights a disease in others regardless of cost; but is humbled by that self- same illness.

The following two quotes were, for me particularly evocative:

"We are so attached to the earth and yet we are incapable of holding on to it"

"Sometimes I feel quite distinctly that what is inside of me is not all of me. There's something else, subli
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C.
May 21, 2009 C. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C. by: Mr. P
This was my second Solzhenitsyn. My first was One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, upon which I wrote a frustrating and rather dull essay entitled 'Past and Present in the Works of Solzhenitsyn and Chekhov', or something of that genre.

I liked Ivan, as we affectionately termed it, I thought it a brave and fascinating insight into Stalinist Russia and the power of will and work and the human condition and so on and so forth. But I wouldn't say that it particularly convinced me that Solzhenitsy
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Peter Gillard-moss
The novel is more than a simple tale of Communist Russia. The questions it asks, on happiness, the value of life etc. are just as prominent and relevant in modern Western society as they where in Stalinist Russia.

This makes the book quite refreshing. It isn't like many novels on this period which are told to shock and fascinate the Western reader. It doesn't spend its time enumerating the ridiculous and cruel. Though some of those aspects are there they are presented more subtly, as a part of ev
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Maria Grazia
Niente da fare, i romanzieri russi hanno una loro marcia speciale, l'equivalente letterario delle facoltà extrasensoriali, e riescono a scrivere storie che sono allo stesso tempo dipinti e hanno la pregnanza della verità più vera.
Questo è vero per il grande Tolstoj, per Gogol, per Bulgakov e in modo particolare per Solzenicyn.
Reparto C, o Padiglione Cancro, come è titolato in alcune edizioni, è un moderno Guerra e Pace, e non a caso, nel dialogo, le vivissime personalità (personaggi sarebbe ridu
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Kristel
The Cancer Ward by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Translated from Russian by Rebecca Frank, The Dial Press, Inc. New York 1968

This is the second book by Solzhenitsyn that I have read. I really enjoy his writing. The first book I read was about life in the prison camp, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Solzhenitsyn was born in southern Russia in 1918. Communism had taken power. The author fought in WWII. Solzhenitsyn was arrested, stripped of rank and decorations for derogatory remarks about St
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Joanne
Well well well... what an outstanding book! A true masterpiece, it took me a good while to read this, (I did read other books in between) but the pace of the book is slow, I think that was the intention, because there's a hell of a lot to take in!

Its a solid book, emotionally satisfying and extremely well written, Solzhenitsyn's novel is set in a small cancer ward in 1955, 2 years after Stalins death. Sounds depressing? Well actually it isn't. Far from it in fact.

There are many characters in
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Jenni
There's something sobering about this novel.

Weighing in at over 500 pages and easily the heaviest thing in my bag, Cancer Ward would seem to come to a definite conclusion, be it comforting or disturbing, by its denouement. But Solzhenitsyn offers nothing of the sort. Rather, we must revel in the beautiful ambiguity of this novel, and, in so doing, revel in the often frustrating, poignant, and somber ambiguity of life.

This novel is at once both a metaphorical critique of Soviet Russia as well as
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Emily
In a hilarious piece of reverse synchronicity, I happened to attend a conference on "Patients as Leaders in Health Care" while I was in the middle of reading Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward. At the conference, a smattering of Oregon health care professionals discussed how to involve patients and families in the decision-making processes at their medical groups and health plans; how to collaborate with patients and families to make the experience of treatment the best it can be; how to coordi ...more
Anirban
It is one of those books which hit you with its sheer brilliance and candor in representing the happenings of the story. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's third novel depicts the vacillation between hopelessness and hope among the patients and staff of a cancer ward in Central Soviet Union in the 1950s as well as their moral and spiritual yearnings. The protagonist, Kostoglotov, a political exile turned cancer patient is to an extent a reflection of the author's own self. Apart from strong autobiographic ...more
El
Mar 22, 2009 El rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (209/1001)
Solzhenitsyn's cancer ward is in post-Stalin, Soviet Uzbekistan in the mid-fifties. This behemoth follows the treatment and therapy of, yes, cancer patients. The main character, Oleg Kostoglotov, has stomach cancer and is likely based on Solzhenitsyn's own experiences in a cancer ward and in exile. The other characters all represent a different form of cancer, which I assume probably are symbolic of their station in Soviet Russia. Other characters, such as the doctors and orderlies, also have ro ...more
David
Solid, emotionally satisfying, well-written Solzhenitsyn novel set in a small cancer ward in Soviet Uzbekistan in 1955, 2 years after Stalin's death. Sound like fun? Well, actually it is. Not all that depressing with moments of levity and with some almost Dickensonian characters.

Actually, I was about half way through the book before I figured out who the protagonist was, this exiled former soldier with stomach cancer, Oleg Kostoglotov...probably a stand-in for Solzhenitsyn who had similar exper
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mim
I read this for my book club and actually thought I read it ages ago, but hadn't. I found it engrossing. Each character gives a view of what was going on in the Soviet Union. The people who believed the system was working, those who took advantage of it, what life was like as an exile, how people related to each other while enduring hardship from both illness and their lives. I read it while traveling and pulled it out of my bag while riding in a shared shuttle from airport to the place we were ...more
Harry
Dec 13, 2007 Harry rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
From Wikipedia -

"The novel is set in a hospital in Soviet Uzbekistan in the 1950s. As the title hints, the plot focuses on a group of cancer patients as they undergo therapy. The novel deals with Political theories, mortality and hope, themes that are often explored either through descriptive passages or the conversations the characters have within the ward, which is a microcosm of the post Stalin Russian Communist regime."

I found Cancer Ward, although depressing to be a totally engrossing read
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Manray9
The critics scoffed, but I liked it. A Soviet-era story told in the style of a Tolstoyan novel. Solzhenitsyn's description of the bureaucrat's descent toward death compares favorably with Lev Tolstoy's masterpiece -- "The Death of Ivan Ilych." Unfortunately, Solzhenitsyn's weird Slavophile and religious views alienated many in the Western and Russian intellectual elites reducing respect for his work. "Cancer Ward," however, continues to stand out as a thought-provoking and well-crafted novel.
John
I was slow to pick this one up, "After all," I thought, "how interesting can a book be about a ward full of cancer patients?" The answer is very interesting. This is an excellent book. It is a remarkable contrast to the epic fictional works of his that I've read of his. It is intimate, romantic, personal, and tragic. I heartily recommend this book.
Jen
★★★★.5
The Cancer Ward follows a group of cancer patients in a hospital outside of Moscow as they undergo various intense and uncomfortable cancer treatments. The story takes place two years after the death of Stalin as Russians deal with the aftermath of the Stalin regime. The cancer ward is a microcosm symbolizing various elements of Russian society and politics. The protagonist Oleg Kostoglotov is an exile who spent years in prisoner camp. His experiences parallel the author’s experience since
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JoséMaría BlancoWhite
A masterpiece. After reading this tremendous novel I am convinced there are truly two levels of great writers or authors of fiction. Put in one sack the ones you care for, the ones you like best. I've personally read authors of all types of literature, popular, classic, high-brow, and what have you. I have found authors I loved of all these types. But I had only found one who went beyond them all, and that was Cervantes and his Don Quixote. Now, I meet Solzhenitsyn. Only these two authors stand ...more
Ben
Though he is best-regarded for his short works, Ivan Denisovich and Matryona's Home, Cancer Ward to this day remains my favourite of Solzhenitsyn's works. As semi-autobiographical as those two stories were, this novel expands on some of their themes and introduces a few new ones. At once polyphonic and immensely personal, the 'plot' if you will, is very thin. This is a novel about the collective experience of a ward populated by a group of non-characters. It is NOT a dissident or anti-Soviet wor ...more
Larry Bassett
Cancer Ward sat on my parents’ bookshelf for most of my adult life. I never was tempted to touch it or any of the other Solzhenitsyn books. I was really terrified by those Russian authors. You know the ones: Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Nabokov. Some of those books were big! And I was not a big book person.

Cancer Ward forced me to reassess my fear. Now The Gulag Archipelago is on my to-read shelf with Crime and Punishment and more of those Russian novels to come one of these days!

This book i
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Lull Wain
Ta książka w kilka godzin zmieniła moje życie. Czterysta czterdzieści cztery strony - przepadłam! Trzydzieści sześć rozdziałów - diametralna przemiana! Przeistoczenie! Metamorfoza!
Genialne, doskonałe, fantastyczne. Gdybym mogła, oceniłabym wyżej, znacznie wyżej. Coś wspaniałego. Coś, co przeczytam jeszcze wiele, wiele razy; coś, do czego będę wracać, gdy tylko zapragnę przenieść się... gdzieś daleko!
Do zupełnie innego świata. Do ponurego rosyjskiego oddziału onkologicznego: do umierających lud
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AdultFiction Teton County Library
Teton County Library Call No: F SOLZHENITSYN
Brie's rating: 5 stars

Solszhenitsyn creates a masterpiece here. It is set in the cancer ward of a provincial Soviet hospital in 1955. The relationships between the patients and the staff are explored. The most beautiful and melancholy one is between Oleg, a male patient (and former prisoner), and Zoya, a nurse at the clinic. The passage between them related through pages 165 and 173 is so moving and tender and true to the human yearning toward hope and
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Zadignose
There comes a time in every man's life when he must come to terms with what he really believes--what his values are. When the wheel of fortune turns for an entire nation, it is the individual who pays the price for change--with his heart, with his soul, even with his life. In the midst of such turbulence, is there the possibility even to find... love? There's only one place where we can can discover the essential truth of all... the Cancer Ward. A novel in the tradition of Ruslan and Ludmilla, t ...more
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La Stamberga dei ...: Padiglione Cancro di Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1 9 Nov 09, 2013 04:50AM  
Zoya is called 'Teddy Bear' in the English edition? 1 16 Mar 30, 2013 01:08PM  
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Aleksandr 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
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More about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn...
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 The First Circle The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books I-II August 1914

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“A man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy.” 193 likes
“The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.” 101 likes
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