Like the griffins of myth, The Red Wheel is a synthesis of living parts. Solzhenitsyn’s multivolume “epopee” (his preferred designation) of World War I and the Russian Revolution is a historical novel, docudrama, film treatment, and academic treatise. It deconstructs and recombines these genres in a manner that can only be described as modernist: John Dos Passos’s trilogy USA, sections of which Solzhenitsyn read in the Gulag, was an acknowledged influence. March 1917, Book 2, covers the three days of the February Revolution, which is shown as an immense national unraveling that corrupted public morality and destroyed social cohesion, often …
This article appears as “Russia’s Apocalypse” in the February 24, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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