HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Loading...

Cancer Ward (original 1968; edition 2003)

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,595332,303 (4.07)140
Member:dylanwolf
Title:Cancer Ward
Authors:Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Info:Vintage (2003), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:SMI - ZWI
Rating:
Tags:Russia, read

Work details

Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1968)

  1. 10
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (fundevogel)
  2. 00
    Galina (une histoire russe) by Galina Vishnevskaya (Eustrabirbeonne)
    Eustrabirbeonne: Galina and Solzhenitsyn are friends (she and Rostropovich gave him sanctuary at their house in the 1960s, when he was expelled from University). There is great dark humour at comparing the way each of them describes the reactions at Stalin's death : the hysterical surge of grief in Leningrad where Galina lived; the joy of the convicts at the gulag, when they learned that the "ogre"had died at last.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 140 mentions

English (30)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All (33)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
The story takes place in the men's cancer ward of a hospital in a city in Soviet Central Asia. The patients in Ward 13 all suffer from cancer, but differ in age, personality, nationality, and social class (as if such a thing could be possible in the Soviet "classless" society!). We are first introduced to Pavel Rusanov, a Communist Party functionary, who enters the hospital because of a rapidly-growing neck tumor.
"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."(p 10)

Solzhenitzyn himself was released from a labor camp in early 1953, just before Stalin's death, and was exiled to a village in Kazakhstan. While incarcerated, he had been operated on for a tumor, but was not told the diagnosis. He subsequently developed a recurrence, received radiotherapy in Tashkent, and recovered.

The narrative places its focus on the central character of Oleg Kostoglotov, a young man who has recently been discharged from a penal camp and is now "eternally" exiled to this particular province. Only two weeks earlier, he was admitted to the ward in grave condition from an unspecified tumor, but he has responded rapidly to radiation therapy. Among the doctors are Zoya, a medical student; Vera Gangart, a young radiologist; and Lyudmila Dontsova, the chief of radiation therapy.

Rusanov and Kostoglotov respond to therapy and are eventually discharged; other patients remain in the ward, get worse, or are sent home to die. In the end Kostoglotov boards a train to the site of his "eternal" exile: "The long awaited happy life had come, it had come! But Oleg somehow did not recognize it."

In The Cancer Ward Solzhenitzyn transforms his own experiences into a multifaceted tale about Soviet society during the period of hope and liberalization after Stalin's death. While Cancer, of course, is an obvious metaphor for the totalitarian state there is also a penetrating look at mid-century Soviet medicine and medical ethics.
“But substantial X-ray treatment is impossible without transfusion!” “Then don’t give it! Why do you assume you have the right to decide for someone else? Don’t you agree it’s a terrifying right, one that rarely leads to good? You should be careful. No one’s entitled to it, not even doctors.” “But doctors are entitled to that right—doctors above all,” exclaimed Dontsova with deep conviction. By now she was really angry. “Without that right there’d be no such thing as medicine!”
Of course, the paternalism evident here (e.g. lack of truth-telling and informed consent) was also characteristic of medicine in other countries in the 1950's and remains an important concern in professional ethics.

The novel also explores the personal qualities and motivation of physicians, and the issue of intimate relationships between doctors and patients. The most incisive aspects of the book are its insight into human nature and the realism of its characters. ( )
  jwhenderson | Mar 22, 2017 |
A lot of fun for a book about cancer, Russia, and war. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
The book started well for me, and was far more interesting and easy to read than I expected it to be, however is it went along I struggled to maintain an interest in the characters. ( )
  Fluffyblue | Mar 5, 2016 |
A book I read in college. An eye opener. ( )
  Greymowser | Jan 22, 2016 |
★★★★.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 he also spent time in a labor camp and was treated for stomach cancer. On the surface, the book tells the story of the daily lives of a group of men being treated for cancer, but below the surface it is a scathing critique of Stalinism and Russians’ complicity into maintaining a corrupt and oppressive regime. But, the book is more than just a criticism, it is also a description of the difficult healing process facing Russians during de-Stalinization, thus despite its bleak moments, there are silver linings and optimism for the future. Solzhenitsyn tackles themes such as morality and ethics, socialism and communism, individual and collective responsibility, and human quest for meaning.

I loved this book. The writing was wonderful and the story was complex and thought provoking. Every element of the story can be interpreted as having special meaning (e.g., the location of the tumors, the types of characters, various objects, etc.). The writing was bold and compassionate. Some knowledge of Russian political history is a requirement in order to appreciate and understand this book, and those with more solid backgrounds into Russian politics will likely derive the most pleasure from reading this book. The book was a slow read for me as the material is quite dense and complex with regards to symbolism. Overall, a wonderful book and one that I would highly recommend.

Quotes:
Sometimes I feel quite distinctly that what is inside me is not all of me. There is something else, sublime, quite indestructible, some tiny fragment of the Universal spirit. Don't you feel that?

Should a man, to preserve his life, pay everything that gives life colour, scent and excitement? Can one accept a life of digestion, respiration, muscular and brain activity - and nothing more? Become a walking blueprint? Is this not an exorbitant price? Is it not mockery?

One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.

“There’s no injustice there,’ he replied. His bass voice was measured and very persuasive. ‘On the contrary, it is justice in the highest degree. It’s the truest of all tests for a doctor to suffer from the disease he specializes in.”
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandrprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adrian, EsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bethell, NicholasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burg, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Раковый корпус носил и номер тринадцать.
On top of everything, the cancer wing was Number 13.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Hoe we ook om wonderen lachen zolang we sterk en gezond en welvarend zijn: als het leven zo afgepaald en verkrampt wordt dat alleen een wonder ons kan redden, klampen we ons vast aan dit unieke uitzonderlijke wonder - en geloven erin!
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is the Cancer Ward, and should not be combined with
The Gulag Archipelago
.

The German edition "Krebsstation" was issued in two books and should not be combined with the single work listed.

The Finnish edition "Syöpäosasto" was issued in Keltainen Kirjasto in two volumes; the separate volumes should not be combined with the single work.
Publisher's editors
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Blurbers
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374511993, Paperback)

Cancer Ward examines the relationship of a group of people in the cancer ward of a provincial Soviet hospital in 1955, two years after Stalin's death. We see them under normal circumstances, and also reexamined at the eleventh hour of illness. Together they represent a remarkable cross-section of contemporary Russian characters and attitudes. The experiences of the central character, Oleg Kostoglotov, closely reflect the author's own: Solzhenitsyn himself became a patient in a cancer ward in the mid-1950s, on his release from a labor camp, and later recovered. Translated by Nicholas Bethell and David Burg.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:37 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

'Cancer Ward' describes the lives of people condemned on health grounds to internment or death. It provides a psychological insight into the intensified experience of people under varying degrees of pressure and deprivation.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.07)
0.5
1 3
1.5 1
2 15
2.5 1
3 65
3.5 18
4 169
4.5 25
5 136

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 113,887,060 books! | Top bar: Always visible