Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Laureate.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Laureate, 1918-2008.
The publication of his books assisted in the eventual downfall of Stalin's Russia. The horrors of the labour camps, the NKGB (The Secret State Police), and the enslavement of Eastern Europe, were exposed.
- Solzhenitsyn's Early History
- Novels by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- Exiled and subsequent Return to Russia
- Solzhenitsyn's Death
- A Poem by Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn
Solzhenitsyn's Early History
Alexander Solzhenitsyn was born in 1918 in Kislovodsk, Russia. He attended Rostov University and graduated from the Department of Mathematics and Physics.
In World War II he served as a Front-line Artillery Captain.
Towards the end of the war, he wrote a letter to a friend in which he referred to Josef Stalin as, "the man with the moustache". This was regarded as "gross disrespect", and he was sentenced to serve eight years in a labour camp.
Novels by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
His first book, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich". Solzhenitsyn assumed the character of Denisovich, struggling to survive in a camp after service in the war. This book was published by order of Nikita Khrushchev who was eager to defame and almost condemn Stalin. This created a sensation in a country where the truth was spoken behind closed doors. This book was made into a film, produced in America, and the main character was played by British actor, Tom Courtenay.
When Khrushchev was removed in 1964 and the KGB reinstalled, Stalin's laws against "thought crimes" were reinstated and Solzenitsyn was targetted again.
His next book, "The First Circle", written in 1953/56, revealed his experiences in a special camp for scientists, who were politically threatening but their skills were needed.
His third book, "Cancer Ward", was published in 1967, where in fact he was the patient recording his own experiences from 1953-56. Solzenitsyn compared cancer to the fatal sickness of the Soviet system. A quote from Alexander Pushkin, another Russian poet, was given as, "the Russian citizen was a traitor, a tyrant or a prisoner".
Exiled and subsequent Return to Russia
Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in1970. The Soviet leaders condemned this and he was banned from travelling to receive the Nobel Prize.
In 1974, Solzhenitsyn was pronounced as an "Enemy of the State" and exiled on charges of treason. He went to Germany and then on to the U.S. and settled in Vermont.
In 1994, Solzhenitsyn made a triumphant return to Russia as President Gorbachev had restored his citizenship. Boris Yeltsin, successor to Gorbachev, awarded Solzhenitsyn, Russia's highest honor, The Order of St. Andrew, and Solzhenitsyn refused acceptance and wanted Yeltsin prosecuted. Solzhenitsyn and Vladimir Putin (Yeltsin's successor), despite differences, agreed on Russia's advancement.
Solzhenitsyn worked on a project to publish his works, beginning in 2006, but he died in 2008.
Solzhenitsyn's wife said, on his death: "He wanted to die at home and he has died at home, He wanted to die in the Summer and he has died in the Summer. He lived a difficult but happy life; and he and I were happy."
A Poem by Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn
When was it that I completely
Scattered the good seeds, one and all?
For after all I spent my boyhood
In the bright singing of Thy temples.
Bookish subtleties sparkled brightly,
Piercing my arrogant brain,
The secrets of the world were…in my grasp,
Life’s destiny…as pliable as wax.
Blood seethed—and every swirl
Gleamed iridescently before me,
Without a rumble the building of my faith
Quietly crumbled within my heart.
But passing here between being and nothingness,
Stumbling and clutching at the edge,
I look behind me with a grateful tremor
Upon the life that I have lived.
Not with good judgment nor with desire
Are its twists and turns illumined.
But with the even glow of the Higher Meaning
Which became apparent to me only later on.
And now with measuring cup returned to me,
Scooping up the living water,
God of the Universe!
I believe again!
Though I renounced You, You were with me!
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago Two 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation III-IV (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1975), pp. 612-615.