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576 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1967
On top of everything, the cancer wing was Number 13. Pavel Nikolayevich Rusanov had never been and could never be a superstitious person, but his heart sank when they wrote “Wing 13” on his admission card. They should have had the ingenuity to assign number 13 to some kind of prosthetic or intestinal department.
All right, let’s suppose Beria was a double-dealer, a bourgeois nationalist and a seeker after power, Very well, put him on trial and shoot him behind closed doors, but why tell the ordinary people anything about it? Why shake their faith? Why create doubt in their minds? When it was all over, one might perhaps send out a confidential circular down to a certain level to explain the details, but as for the newspapers, wouldn’t it be better to say he died of a heart attack and bury him with full honors?
He regarded newspapers as a widely distributed instruction, written in fact in code; nothing in it could be said openly, but a skillful man who knew the ropes could interpret the various small hints, the arrangement of the articles, the things that were played down or omitted, and so get a true picture of the way things were going.
“In the midst of life we are in death.”
There are people with eyes who choose to be blind, and there are people who breathe, but consider themselves dead.Like a true virtuoso Solzhenitsyn paints with so much dexterity, using only the easel of his narrative technique, the lifeless existence in a gulag in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich , capturing in utter lucidity a day in the life of an imprisoned man forced into a labor camp. In Cancer Ward, he put these so called imprisoned men, both literally and figuratively vis-a-vis with the people, whose sheer blindness contributed to even greater extent to their perpetual ordeal. Solzhenitsyn puts all of them in the same footing, using cancer as God's Sacred equalizer, and death as a Divine declaration of equality...