The Red Wheel, Node III, Book 1
688 pages, 6.14 x 9.21
Paperback | 9780268102661 | October 2020
Hardcover | 9780268102654 | November 2017
eBook (PDF) | 9780268102678 | November 2017
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268102685 | November 2017
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the University of Notre Dame Press is proud to publish Nobel Prize–winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s epic work March 1917, Node III, Book 1, of The Red Wheel.
The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. Solzhenitsyn tells this story in the form of a meticulously researched historical novel, supplemented by newspaper headlines of the day, fragments of street action, cinematic screenplay, and historical overview. The first two nodes—August 1914 and November 1916—focus on Russia’s crises and recovery, on revolutionary terrorism and its suppression, on the missed opportunity of Pyotr Stolypin’s reforms, and how the surge of patriotism in August 1914 soured as Russia bled in World War I.
March 1917—the third node—tells the story of the Russian Revolution itself, during which not only does the Imperial government melt in the face of the mob, but the leaders of the opposition prove utterly incapable of controlling the course of events. The action of book 1 (of four) of March 1917 is set during March 8–12. The absorbing narrative tells the stories of more than fifty characters during the days when the Russian Empire begins to crumble. Bread riots in the capital, Petrograd, go unchecked at first, and the police are beaten and killed by mobs. Efforts to put down the violence using the army trigger a mutiny in the numerous reserve regiments housed in the city, who kill their officers and rampage. The anti-Tsarist bourgeois opposition, horrified by the violence, scrambles to declare that it is provisionally taking power, while socialists immediately create a Soviet alternative to undermine it. Meanwhile, Emperor Nikolai II is away at military headquarters and his wife Aleksandra is isolated outside Petrograd, caring for their sick children. Suddenly, the viability of the Russian state itself is called into question.
The Red Wheel has been compared to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, for each work aims to narrate the story of an era in a way that elevates its universal significance. In much the same way as Homer’s Iliad became the representative account of the Greek world and therefore the basis for Greek civilization, these historical epics perform a parallel role for our modern world.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008), Nobel Prize laureate, was a Soviet political prisoner from 1945 to 1953. His story One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) made him famous, and The Gulag Archipelago (1973) further unmasked Communism and played a critical role in its eventual defeat. Solzhenitsyn was exiled to the West in 1974. He ultimately published dozens of plays, poems, novels, and works of history, nonfiction, and memoir, including In the First Circle, Cancer Ward, The Red Wheel, The Oak and the Calf, and Between Two Millstones, Book 1: Sketches of Exile, 1974–1978 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2018).
Marian Schwartz is a prizewinning translator of Russian literature. She is the principal translator of the works of Nina Berberova, Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, and others.
"This third installment of The Red Wheel, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's narrative of the events leading to the Russian Revolution, is remarkable in its complexity. The novel presents a polyphonic kaleidoscope of people, places, and events, some real, some fictitious." ~Society Journal
"In the first volume of March 1917, well translated by Marian Schwartz, many haunting passages can be found, such as Nicholas II's confrontation with the icon of Christ following his tormented abdication." ~Times Literary Supplement
“Only a great work of art like The Red Wheel can convey the soul of a lawless mob that has lost all sense of measure...This action-packed account... tells the story of one moment in which the failure of good men to act made all the difference in the world.” ~National Review
"Almost moment by moment, we follow historical and fictional characters from March 8 to March 11, 1917, as chaos unfolds. Although the Kadets think that history must fulfill a story known in advance, Solzhenitsyn shows us a mass of discrepant incidents that fit no coherent narrative." ~The New Criterion