Writer who shone light on gulag dies
August 4, 2008
ALEXANDER Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author whose books chronicled the horrors of the Soviet gulag system, has died at 89.
|Solzhenitsyn as gulag prisoner.|
Son Stepan said his father died of heart failure.
Solzhenitsyn’s unflinching accounts of torment and survival in the Soviet Union’s slave labour camps riveted his countrymen, whose secret history he exposed.
It earned him 20 years of bitter exile but international renown, and inspired millions.
Beginning with the 1962 short novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, about a carpenter struggling to survive a Soviet labour camp, Solzhenitsyn described the human “meat grinder” that had caught him and millions of other Soviet citizens: capricious arrests, often for trifling and absurd reasons, followed by slave labour camps where cold, starvation and punishing work crushed inmates physically and spiritually.
The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world.
In our country, the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.
Literary giant’s monumental legacy
August 4, 2008
ALEXANDER Solzhenitsyn believed he was a prophet. He had no doubt that every word he wrote had enormous significance.
When he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, he was certain that the Swedish Academy would choose him above the other nominees.
His death serves to remind us that Solzhenitsyn is unique, a giant of Russian and, indeed, world literature.
I first heard of him in 1961, nearly one year before his first publication. Viktor Nekrasov, one of the Russian liberal intelligentsia’s favourite authors, told me that someone in the office of the Soviet literary journal New World had showed him, in great secrecy, a manuscript written by a former political prisoner. It was a story about a day in the life of a prisoner in one of Joseph Stalin’s labour camps. Nekrasov kept repeating that it was a masterpiece of such quality that it made it hard to see the point of writing anything else.
Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.
A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Communism’s deadliest foe
August 4, 2008
Alexander Solzhenitsyn did more to demolish the moral and intellectual case for Communism than any of its critics, writer or statesman, poet or legislator of the world, acknowledged or not.
|Russia Today news report.|
Of course, the tyrants and grey bureaucrats who actually tried to turn Marxism into a working polity contributed as much if not even more to the destruction of the system they ruled over.
But those figures who are usually proclaimed winners of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan and Baroness Thatcher among them, built their victory on the foundations of his life story and testimony from the Gulag.
He transformed a then obscure acronym (standing for “Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies”) into a one-word symbol of Soviet brutality which resonated across the world, not least in his own country.
The next war… may well bury Western civilization forever.
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say goodbye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst; the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!
This article was posted: Monday, August 4, 2008 at 11:41 am