August 4, 2008


Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the man who exposed the horrors of Soviet Communism, dies aged 89 (Tamara Cohen, 04th August 2008, Daily Mail)

When summoned for deportation in 1974, he made a damning written statement to the authorities: "Given the widespread and unrestrained lawlessness that has reigned in our country for many years, and an eight-year campaign of slander and persecution against me, I refuse to recognize the legality of your summons.

"Before asking that citizens obey the law, learn how to observe it yourselves. Free the innocent, and punish those guilty of mass murder."

The West offered him shelter and accolades, but Solzhenitsyn was vocal in his criticism of Western culture for what he considered its weakness and decadence.

Returning to his home country as a hero in 1994, he was lived quietly in Moscow, where his writing has continued to criticise Western materialism and Russian bureaucracy.

But his later works did not generate the same interest from the West. His disdain for capitalism and disgust with the new generation of Russian tycoons was unfashionable....

-OBIT: Chronicler of the gulag (The Australian, August 05, 2008)
The West offered him shelter and accolades, but Solzhenitsyn's refusal to bend despite enormous pressure also gave him the courage to criticise Western culture for what he considered its weakness and decadence.

After a triumphant return in 1994 that included a 56-day train trip across Russia to become reacquainted with his native land, Solzhenitsyn expressed disappointment that most Russians hadn't read his books.

During the '90s, his nationalist views, his devout Orthodoxy, his disdain for capitalism and disgust with the tycoons who bought Russian industries and resources on the cheap following the Soviet collapse, were unfashionable and for a while he faded from the public mind. But under Vladimir Putin's 2000-08 presidency, Solzhenitsyn's vision of Russia as a bastion of Orthodox Christianity, as a place with a unique culture and destiny, gained renewed prominence.

Putin now argues, as Solzhenitsyn did in a speech at Harvard University in 1978, that Russia has a separate civilisation from the West, one that can't be reconciled to communism or Western-style liberal democracy but requires a system adapted to its history andtraditions.

"Any ancient, deeply rooted autonomous culture, especially if it is spread on a wide part of the earth's surface, constitutes an autonomous world, full of riddles and surprises to Western thinking," Solzhenitsyn said.

"For 1000 years Russia has belonged to such a category."

Brights were so offended by his critique of the West they even trumped up charges that he was anti-Semitic in an attempt to marginalize him.

Understanding Solzhenitsyn (William F. Buckley Jr., April 14, 1976, National Review)

To bring on Sovietologist Richard Lowenthal to confute the vision of Solzhenitsyn is on the order of invoking Naziologist Walter Winchell to dispose of a speech by Winston Churchill. It is as obvious that many defeats are caused by internal conditions, as it was obvious to Churchill that Europe had to fear the strength of Hitler only in context of the weakness of France and Great Britain. No doubt the French, adequately prepared, fired bya more galvanizing vision, would have stood up to Hitler, rather than capitulate; indeed, would have stood up to Hitler before it became necessary to capitulate. The disease of the thirties afflicts us yet again, Solzhenitsyn is saying. And all the more strongly because the moment we seek to resist the trend we are made, by such as the editors of Time Magazine, to taste atomic cinders in our mouths.

Solzhenitsyn does not believe one should refuse to communicate with the USSR, as it is being suggested. He believes that these communications ought not to encourage the Soviet Unions in its growing obsession to dominate the world, and obliterate dissent.

Time says of Solzhenitsyn that “as a prophet he has a vision so simple, single-minded and absolute that it cannot cope with a real and complex world.’ People who have less simple, less single-minded, less absolute visions have done very poorly in coping with a real and complex world. A generation ago the Soviet Union was a threat only to its own citizens. Now it is master in Angola, and petrifier of the thought and vision of the worldly editors of the most cosmopolitan magazine in the world.

Solzhenitsyn’s vision is as simple as Cato’s; as naïve as Churchill’s. The great effect of his worlds is that, on listening to them, those of the Lowenthal’s blur instantly from memory.

-Solzhenitsyn -- a Rightist? (William F. Buckley Jr., August 1975, National Review)
The gradual rejection of Solzhenitsyn by the American intellectual establishment was predictable. For one thing he is entirely independent, moving through the cosmopolitan scene without tripping over any of the Lilliputian nets that ensnare most of us. Now Newsweek Magazine has come up with the killer designation: “The exile found himself ignored by some influential liberals and embraced — apparently to his discomfort — by the conservative right.” If only they can thus taxonomize him — a member of the conservative right — they can pin him up in a showcase along with the rare and grotesque butterflies, let him go on there with his writhings and — forget about him.

-OBIT: Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies aged 89 (Damien Francis, 8/04/.08,
His wife, Natalya, told Interfax that her husband, who suffered along with millions of Russians in the prison camp system, died as he had hoped to die.

"He wanted to die in the summer - and he died in the summer," she said. "He wanted to die at home - and he died at home. In general I should say that Alexander Isaevich lived a difficult but happy life."

His monumental work the Gulag Archipelago, written in secrecy in the Soviet Union and published in Paris in three volumes between 1973 and 1978, is the definitive work on Stalin's camps, where tens of millions perished.

Last year he was awarded one of Russia's highest honours, the state prize. In announcing the award Yury Osipov, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, called Solzhenitsyn "the author of works without which the history of the 20th century is unthinkable".

    -OBIT: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008) (Gregory McNamee, August 4th, 2008, Britannica Blog)

    -TRIBUTE: Solzhenitsyn at Work (JOHN McCAIN, August 4, 2008, NY Sun)

    -OBIT: Last struggle is over for Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Tony Halpin, 8/04/08, Times of London)
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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 4, 2008 7:47 AM
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