The novel's original Russian title is Oktyabr 1916 — October 1916; during the period in which the novel is set, Russia had not yet adopted the Gregorian calendar, and so its dates were somewhat out of step with the rest of the world. (And the February Revolution, mentioned above, occurred in late February 1917 according to the calendar then in use, but early March according to the Gregorian calendar.)
In "November 1916", the novel literary form is used as a device to link together what are best described as a series of essays and polemics. Solzhenitsyn uses long and detailed conversations (typically dialogues) between the characters in this novel as a way of presenting political and philosophical arguments. Several of the fictional characters, especially those engaged in the dialogs, are very thinly disguised historical personages. The dialogue device brings out many of the issues which were important topics of dissention in pre-revolutionary Russia. Although Solzhenitysn himself is openly contemptuous of the leftist/liberal tendency in Russian political thought and public life in this period, he gives these views full airing along with other views more in sympathy with his own, especially in his long dialogues.