Description - First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Indirectly based on Solzhenitsyn s own experiences of working as a mathematician in a prison research institute, The First Circle is set amongst a group of scientists caught up in the system of prison camps. Forced to work for the secret police, they debate the morality of what they doing but are cruelly aware that failure to co-operate would secure them a worse fate. The title is a reference to the first, and least unpleasant, circle of Hell in Dante s inferno but Solzhenitsyn s characters know that the lower circles of hell are there in the shape of the forced labour camps and that these await them if they make a false step. This searing insight into the dark side of Soviet life in the final years of Stalin s regime is both a brooding account of human nature and a scrupulously exact description of a historical period.
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(218mm x 138mm x 44mm)
The Harvill Press
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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Author Biography - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in 1918 and grew up in Rostov-on-Don. He graduated in physics and mathematics from Rostov University and studied literature by correspondence course at Moscow University. In World War II he fought as an artillery officer, attaining the rank of captain. In 1945, however, after making derogatory remarks about Stalin in a letter, he was arrested and summarily sentenced to eight years in forced labour camps, followed by internal exile. In 1957 he formally rehabilitated, and settled down to teaching and writing. The publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in Novy Mir in 1962 was followed by publication, in the West, of his novels Cancer Ward and The First Circle. In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 1974 his citizenship was revoked and he was expelled from the Soviet Union. He settled in Vermont and worked on his great historical cycle The Red Wheel. In 1990, with the fall of Soviet Communism, his citizenship was restored and four years later he returned to settle in Russia.