Authored by two eminent Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn scholars, The Soul and Barbed Wire is the first and only book to offer both a detailed biography and a comprehensive appraisal of the literary achievement of the Nobel prize-winning author who became one of the Soviet regime’s most formidable foes. The book begins with a detailed biographical survey that traces Solzhenitsyn’s evolution from an ardent Communist and loyal Soviet front-line officer into a devastating critic of all ideological distortions of authentic human values and a historian of the many-faceted events that led to, and the tragedy set loose by, the Russian Revolution. This biographical section goes on to portray the writer’s strenuous efforts to convey this message to the West during his years of exile, and to his countrymen after his return to Russia.
The bulk of the book, however, consists of sharply focused essays on a large number of Solzhenitsyn’s writings. Ericson and Klimoff comment on virtually all his works of fiction as well as on a generous selection of texts belonging to historical or journalistic genres. Because the volume assumes no prior knowledge of its subject, it will prove particularly helpful to those who are coming to Solzhenitsyn for the first time, while its well-nigh encyclopedic inclusiveness should appeal even to the most seasoned readers. Drawing upon the best available Solzhenitsyn scholarship, the authors strive to present a balanced and accurate appraisal of the remarkable life and hugely influential works that have often been misunderstood and not infrequently been misrepresented.