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.
What They're Saying...
"This year saw the death of the great Alexander Solzhenitsyn, one of the true heroes of the twentieth century. It was, gratifying that tow of the world's leading Solzhenitsyn experts, Alexis Klimoff and Edward E. Ericson, Jr., should publish The Soul and Barbed Wire: An Introduction to Solzhenitsyn. Everyone should know something about Solzhenitsyn and this is an ideal place to start."
— Joseph Pearce Ingatiusinsight.com
"After Michael Scammell published his massive, authoritative biography Solzhenitsyn, which was based on personal interviews, one could hardly imagine the use of another study of this great writer. But in fact Ericson (English, emer., Calvine College) and Klimoff (Russian studies, Vassar College) provide a new, fresh approach to Solzhenitsyn's life and works in abbreviated form. . . . Readers should warmly welcome this book."
"Mr. Ericson and Mr. Klimoff, scholars and authorities on Solzhenitsyn, are well aware that today's young could not know the Solzhenitsyn of the headlines; for they were children (or yet unborn) when the Iron Curtain fell and do not recall the long twilight struggle of the Cold War. The authors write, 'With this potential readership in mind, we think of this book as our effort at cultural transmission from one generation to the next. Especially for these readers, the current work functions both as an overview of the huge cultural impact made by Solzhenitsyn and as a nontechnical introduction to the full range of his works.
In this they have succeeded admirably. 'The Soul and Barbed Wire' is a clear, well-crafted, and admirable attempt by the authors to shore up the crumbling memories of the last century, to help the young who have no memory of those times to know and to see, and in doing so to gain orientation and wisdom: The very goal of studying history.
Such a giant among men, among writers who shake empires, deserves to be remembered; and in 'The Soul and Barbed Wire,' the authors have provided an effective, accessible work that makes clear Solzhenitsyn's significance. They cover all the key biographical facts of Solzhenitsyn's life, provide a short critical description of each of his works and then devote considerable space to his often-misunderstood beliefs."
— The Washington Times
"Solzhenitsyn's recent death signals a time to begin the evaluation, and this study . . . is precisely the book to start the process. . . . Academic libraries must acquire the clothbound version of this reasonably priced book (check the publisher's website for special pricing) as vital to their collection of this giant of world literature."
— Catholic Library World