Overwriting Chaos: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Fictive Worlds

Overwriting Chaos: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Fictive Worlds


Richard Tempest

Series: Cultural Revolutions: Russia in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
ISBN: 9781644690123 (hardcover)
Pages: approx. 750 pp.
Publication Date: December 2019


Richard Tempest examines Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s evolution as a literary artist from his early autobiographical novel Love the Revolution to the experimental mega-saga The Red Wheel, and beyond. Tempest shows how this author gives his characters a presence so textured that we can readily imagine them as figures of flesh and blood and thought and feeling. The study discusses Solzhenitsyn’s treatment of Lenin, Stalin, and the Russian revolution; surprising predilection for textual puzzles and games à la Nabokov or even Borges; exploration of erotic themes; and his polemical interactions with Russian and Western modernism. Also included is new information about the writer’s life and art provided by his family, as well as Tempest’s interviews with him in 2003-07.

Richard Tempest is an associate professor at the University of Illinois who studies the interactions between Russian and Western culture. His novel Zolotaya kost, about the adventures of a time-traveling American professor, was published in Moscow in 2004. Tempest’s current research focuses on charismatic politics in the twenty-first century.

Table of Contents

A Note on Translations and Transliterations
Timeline of Solzhenitsyn’s Life and Works

Part One: The Writer In Situ

1. The Quilted Jerkin: Solzhenitsyn’s Life and Art
2. Ice, Squared: “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”
3. “Turgenev Never Knew”: The Shorter Fictions of the 1950s and 1960s
4. Meteor Man: Love the Revolution
5. Helots and Heroes: In the First Circle
6. Rebel versus Rabble: Cancer Ward

Part Two: The Writer Ex Situ

7. Twilight of All the Russias: The Red Wheel
8. Return: The Shorter Fictions of the 1990s
9: Modernist?

Appendix. Three Interviews with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (2003–7)

Selected Bibliography