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Solzhenitsyn’s “life’s mission” on the Revolution to be released in English

Solzhenitsyn's "life's mission" on the Revolution to be released in English
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Image: Verhoeff, Bert / Anefo under a CC licence

22 August 2017

A grant from an anonymous donor has facilitated the publication of Nobel-prize winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s epic cycle of novels about the Russian Revolution, which according to the writer’s son, was his “life’s mission”. This will be the first time the complete historical work, entitled The Red Wheel (Krasnoe Koleso), is translated into English.

Stephan Solzhenitsyn added that the upcoming translation touches upon “the very heart of the Russian Revolution: the toppling of Russia’s 1,000-year monarchy.” While the writer first thought up the idea of the magnum opus in the 1930s, he didn’t put pen to paper until 1969, with eight years in the gulag system, cancer, and an endless battle against Russian authorities getting in the way.

Best known for his works that document the harsh realities of life inside Stalin’s gulag, The Red Wheel sees Solzhenitsyn telling the story of the Russian Revolution, through the eyes of over 100 different characters. Notorious for his reflection-heavy time-sparse prose, in this cycle of novels, chapters are delineated by time of day, split into morning, day, evening and night. His son Stephan Solzhenitsyn adds, “sometimes, the story goes hour by hour, and even minute by minute. History is compressed.”

While the first and second parts of the work, ‘August 1914’ and ‘November 1916’ have been translated, the subsequent six volumes have never been released in English before. University of Notre Dame Press has announced the next part, ‘March 1917’ will be available in November.

Solzhenitsyn died in 2008 aged 89, primarily being remembered as a writer who chronicled the atrocities of the gulag. The translation of The Red Wheel into English will perhaps transform his legacy, from a writer of the gulag, to a writer of the Revolution.

Source: The Guardian