Cancer Ward: A Novel (FSG Classics)
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Cancer Ward examines the relationship of a group of people in the cancer ward of a provincial Soviet hospital in 1955, two years after Stalin's death. We see them under normal circumstances, and also reexamined at the eleventh hour of illness. Together they represent a remarkable cross-section of contemporary Russian characters and attitudes. The experiences of the central character, Oleg Kostoglotov, closely reflect the author's own: Solzhenitsyn himself became a patient in a cancer ward in the mid-1950s, on his release from a labor camp, and later recovered. Translated by Nicholas Bethell and David Burg.
department of pathological anatomy, and I got an answer in a few days. It was already January, that was before they let me come here.” “Well, come on then! Where is it? Where’s the answer?” “Ludmila Afanasyevna, when I came here I couldn’t have cared less about anything. It was a slip of paper without a letterhead, without a stamp, simply a letter from a laboratory worker in the department. She was kind enough to write that on the exact date I mentioned and from the very settlement where I was, a
“the interests of society.” Somehow they both tied up. “What do they live by?” He could not say it aloud somehow. It seemed almost indecent. “It says here, by love.” “Love?…No, that’s nothing to do with our sort of morality.” Cancer Ward 119 The gold-rimmed glasses mocked him. “Listen, who wrote all that, anyway?” “What?” mumbled Podduyev. They were sidetracking him away from the point. “Who wrote it, who’s the author? There, it’s up there, look, at the top of the first page.” What’s the name
happens…sometimes. From a certain age, and up to a certain age….” “What age? From what age?” Asya interrogated him angrily as though he had offended her. “It’s best at our age. When else? What is there in life except love?” Sitting there with her little raised eyebrows, she seemed so certain, it wasn’t possible to object. Dyomka didn’t object. He just wanted to listen to her, not to argue. She turned toward him and leaned forward, and, without stretching out either of her arms, it was as if she
Oleg!” said Sibgatov, with a faint smile of hope. How he wanted to be cured! In spite of the numbing, obviously hopeless treatment, month after month and year after year—suddenly and finally to be cured! To have his back healed again, to straighten himself up, walk with a firm tread, be a fine figure of a man! “Hello, Ludmila Afanasyevna! I’m all right now!” They all longed to find some miracle doctor, or some medicine the doctors here didn’t know about. Whether they admitted as much or denied
color of pale flame. The gentle, yellow, early-evening sun put new life into the unhealthy tinge of Oleg’s thin ill-looking face. In its warm light it seemed he was not going to die, that he would live. Oleg shook his head, like a guitar player who has finished a sad song and is about to begin a gay one. “Zoyenka, make it a real holiday for me, will you? I’m fed up with these white coats. I’ve had enough of nurses, I want you to show me a beautiful city girl. I’ll never get the chance to see one