Shannon's Reviews > The First Circle

The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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's review
Jul 31, 07

Read in June, 2007

In graduate school I read at least one short story by Solzhenitsyn. I was not impressed and with so much other Russian lit that I loved, Solzhenitsyn fell by the way side. Later when reading Anne Applebaum's book on the Gulag system, I thought I would give Solzhenitsyn another try. So I started Cancer Ward but couldn't get through it. I had a copy of The First Circle, and it was one of those small paperbacks, perfect for traveling. So I started it and it hooked me immediately! This is really a novel, not just a memoir of the Gulag system. Not only does Solzhenitsyn show the misery of the system, not only for the prisoners but for their wives, for example, who can lose their jobs and apartments if it becomes known that their husbands are in the camps, or for the young women facing a shortage of men because they are either in the camps or died in the war--he also shows how joy and transcendence are possible.
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