Wednesday, November 21, 2007

August 1914

I just finished Solzhenitsyn's World War I novel August 1914 - the earlier version, with just six hundred pages or so. I read that once he was in the U.S. he wrote a revision with some three hundred additional pages. Presumably this included the "Chapter 22 withheld at the request of the author", but I don't forsee going back to seek it out now. I stuffed it in my computer bag on the way out the door on business last week, and ended up reading it for bedtime and traveling (having finished my two library books, a biography of James K. Polk and a new study of the lives and friendship of Washington and Lafayette).

Offhand I would describe this as Dostoyevski Meets Hemingway -- a readable twentieth-century war story featuring a million characters with unpronounceable names and a sense of inevitable doom hanging over the whole. Well-written, interesting, but very long.

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