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August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - Best Translation of an Epic Work

August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - Best Translation of an Epic Work

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Published by: gerryq251 on Apr 12, 2011
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August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

August 1914 - A Tragicomedy

In his monumental narrative of the outbreak of the First World War and the ill-fated Russian offensive into East Prussia, Solzhenitsyn has written what Nina Krushcheva, in The Nation, calls a dramatically new interpretation of Russian history. The assassination of tsarist prime minister Pyotr Stolypin, a crucial event in the years leading up to the Revolution of 1917, is reconstructed from the alienating viewpoints of historical witnesses. The sole voice of reason among the advisers to Tsar Nikolai II, Stolypin died at the hands of the anarchist Mordko Bogrov, and with him perished Russias last hope for reform. Translated by H.T. Willetts.

August 1914 is the first volume of Solzhenitsyns epic, The Red Wheel; the second is November 1916. Each of the subsequent volumes will concentrate on another critical moment or knot, in the history of the Revolution. Translated by H.T. Willetts.

Features: * ISBN13: 9780374519995 * Condition: USED - VERY GOOD * Notes: * Click here to view our Condition Guide and Shi pping Prices This is not an easy book to read--but it's one of the greatest novels I've ever read. Readers who are familiar with the works of other Russian authors (e.g., Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, etc.) will probably more readily appreciate "August 1914" than those who are picking up a Russian novel for the first time. Indeed, I found this novel reminiscent of Tolstoy's "War and Peace." Just as Tolstoy painted a masterful picture of Russian life during the Napoleonic Wars, so Solzhenitsyn paints an unsurpas sed picture of Russia on the eve of the Great War 100 years later. Of course, Solzhenitsyn is far less concerned with faith and religion than Tolstoy was-political philosophy is more in Solzhenitsyn's focus. "August 1914" almost seems to be an appeal by Solzhenitsyn across the years to countrymen long dead, to warn them of the disastrous war and revolution about to overtake them largely because of their own folly. Solzhenitsyn's antipathy for the subsequent Soviet regime is well known. His mockery (in "August 1914") of the revolutionary "intelligentsia" on the Left--for their eagerness to destroy without having an understanding of how to build--is none too subtle, although he does not deny the revolutionaries their opportunity to argue their point of view in the novel. (Ironically, many on the Left were among the earliest victims of the Bolshevik monster they did so much to unleash.) The autocrats and reactionaries on the Right do not escape his scorn either. The unwillingness (or inability) of the Tsar and his ilk to face the realities of a changing world must of course also be held responsible for the cataclysm about to engulf Russia. But we see Tsar Nicholas II as more than just an empty-headed martinet--instead he comes across (in the latter part of the book) as a well-meaning but indecisive man, who cared deeply for Russia and her people...yet had no idea how to govern as an effective monarch (much less an enlightened one). In the course of the novel we meet the one man who might have saved Russia--now largely forgotten--Pyotr Stolypin, Prime Minister of Russia from 1906 to 1911 (and arguably the greatest statesman Russia ever produced). Despised on the Left for his heavy-handed (but effective) tactics against revolutionary groups, and derided on the Right for his never completed program of reforms designed to move Russia progressively into modernity (politically and economically), Stolypin was mourned by few on either side when he was assassinated and killed, a victim of the apathy of a clumsy bureacracy and one misguided terrorist. Solzhenitsyn probably

does more to mark Stolypin's proper place in history than any other work I've yet seen in English. The heart of the novelist is clearly broken over what might have been for Russia. It must be said that "August 1914" is a lot more than simply a vehicle for reviewing the political torment of Russia in the late 19th and early 20th century. Solzhenitsyn also gives us an amazingly vivid portrayal of the action and confusion of the 1914 Battle of Tannenberg in the opening month of World War I. I'm not sure any other author, writing without the benefit of actual experience in the conflict that is his subject, has ever produced a more realistic "you are there" feel to his narrative of terrifying battle and mundane army life. Note that there is a map at the back of the book for helping to keep track of placenames. Also be forewarned that characters will disappear for very long stretches and then re-appear without warning. This is not atypical of long Russian novels--which, at 896 pages, "August 1914" certainly is. Yet if you are at all intersted in Russian history--and would like to read an "insider's" novelization of how "modern" Russia came to be--then I think you will find this book worth the time. Now, on to "November 1916"...!

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