The First Circle of Dante's Hell (where the souls of the pre-Christian philosophers are doomed to exist through all eternity) is, in this novel, a metaphor for certain penal institutions in Stalin's Russia which were scientific research centers, operating within special prisons and staffed by political prisoners. Much of the action in The First Circle takes place in one research center outside Moscow, during four days in December, 1949. A terror-stricken world is vividly described by one of Russia's greatest authors. 580 pages. 6.5 x 9.5 inches. Harper & Row, New York, 1968.
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