An uncut edition of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle is finally
coming out in English.
The novel, completed in 1964 and banned by Soviet officials even
after Solzhenitsyn cut nine chapters, is set in a gulag where
scientists and scholars have been sent for alleged subversion against
the Stalinist regime.
A shortened, 580-page version of "The
First Circle" came out in English in 1968 -- the text had mysteriously
been leaked out of the Soviet Union -- despite objections by the
author, who believed his work was being exploited for profit, and by
scholars who feared that the book's release could jeopardize his safety.
The novel's title stems from the unusual
method which Leonardo da Vinci, apparently ambidextrous, used for
encoding secret messages (the real "da Vinci code"!) that can only be
read in a mirror. This, among other things, gives the book a mystical
flavor, but it does not degenerate into a wacko supernatural novel. The
combination of Anna's gift with realistic details of everyday life
remind even the staunchest skeptic of strange things that happen now
and then: a prophetic dream, an accurate prediction, a feeling of the
presence of recently deceased people. Rubina's masterful novel provides
a way of looking into that strange world -- not through a door or a
window but through a looking glass.