Places Discussed

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*Tannenberg. Village in East Prussia that gave its name to the great battle that led to Russia’s overwhelming defeat in late August, 1914. Although the battle was actually fought over a large area, encompassing many towns, the Germans named the battle after Tannenberg because Teutonic knights had suffered a historic defeat in this village at the hands of Polish-Lithuanian forces in 1410. The Russian army clashed with German forces at Tannenberg while marching on Berlin. (In 1945 Tannenberg was transferred to Poland and renamed Stebark.)


*Gumbinnen. German name for the Russian industrial city Gusev, where the Russians defeated a German army in the Battle of Gumbinnen about a week and a half before the Battle of Tannenberg. The novel points up how the Russian failure to capitalize on this initial victory led to their defeat in the later battle.


*Willenberg. East Prussian town that was the pivotal point of a Russian movement to encircle German forces. However, the main column of Russian relief troops was recalled, and the town became a pivot for German encirclement of Samsanov’s forces, which began running in panic.


*Neidenberg. Small town in East Prussia (now Nidzica, Poland) that became headquarters for Russian General Samsanov. Neidenberg was isolated from the major battles taking place and lacked the capacity to handle the Russian wounded. Communications to and from headquarters were slow, and messages were carried mostly on horseback. The town became a refuge for Russian wounded and deserters.


*Soldau. Town on Russia’s border with East Prussia that Russian forces held after heavy fighting. However, with each passing day, Russia’s uncoordinated operations disintegrated into separate actions by individual corps commanders, while the German army acted as a cohesive whole. The Germans eventually took Soldau and then occupied Neidenberg without a fight. In frustration, the Russian general committed suicide.


*Lvov. City in East Prussia (now part of Poland) evacuated by Austrian forces. Russian General Ruzsky celebrated the taking of this nearly empty city as a great Russian victory. The novel ends with Ruzsky’s telegram announcing victory. Instead he incompetently let the Austrian army escape.

*Masurian Lakes

*Masurian Lakes. Region in East Prussia in which Russian forces attempted another invasion in mid-September, only to experience another disastrous defeat by the Germans.

*St. Petersburg

*St. Petersburg. Capital of Russia, in which the novel traces the growth of the revolutionary movement, going back to the days of the earlier disastrous war with Japan in 1904-1906. The novel depicts the czar’s palaces in and around St. Petersburg as islands completely cut off from the real world.


*Kiev. Western Russian city (now part of Ukraine) that is home to Dmitri Bogrov, a Jewish revolutionary who assassinates the government minister Peter Stolypin, whom the novel depicts as a person who might have saved Russia from the disasters of World War I and the Revolution.


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Burg, David, and George Feifer. Solzhenitsyn, 1972.

Dunlop, John B., Richard Haugh, and Alexis Klimoff, eds. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Critical Essays and Documentary Materials. Belmont, Mass.: Nordland, 1973. A collection of critical essays that includes a bibliography of works by and about Solzhenitsyn.

Ericson, Edward E., Jr. Solzhenitsyn: The Moral Vision, 1980.

Kelley, Donald R. The Solzhenitsyn-Sakharov Dialogue: Politics, Society, and the Future. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982. Examines the beliefs of Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov on the subject of what sort of political system ought to replace Communism in Russia.

Kodjack, Andrej. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1978.

Moody, Christopher. Solzhenitsyn, 1976 (second revised edition).

Pontuso, James F. Solzhenitsyn’s Political Thought. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990. Examines the evolution of Solzhenitsyn’s political thinking.

Scammell, Michael. Solzhenitsyn: A Biography, 1984.

Venclova, Tomas. “War and Pieces.” The New Republic, August 28, 1989, 33-37. Admires Solzhenitsyn’s literary talent but faults his political stance in August 1914.

Wilson, Raymond J. “Solzhenitsyn’s August 1914 and Lenin in Zurich: The Question of Historical Determinism.” Clio 14, no. 1 (Fall, 1984): 15-36. Examines Solzhenitsyn’s views of history as portrayed in August 1914.

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Critical Essays