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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal/Theological Notebook: The Death of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 
3rd-Aug-2008 11:57 pm
Requiem
And the world loses one of its great voices again.

While I don't claim to have avidly read everything of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's, his was one of the voices that most grabbed my attention when I was an undergraduate, both in studying Soviet history and in literature. When I was at Notre Dame, I can remember Bob and I reading and talking intently about his Harvard address of 1978, which seemed, in an edition with early responses and later reflections, to be a text much used there among undergraduatesat the time. I just went back and grabbed a copy in the last year or so, actually, when I was out in Wyoming in October, when thinking of such things again.

The apparent bafflement by Western commentators, both of the liberal and conservative camps, that he wasn't just a tamed voice of criticism of the Soviet enemy but an equally-thorough critic of the West was probably one of the earlier "complicators" of my thinking, and perhaps an early inspiration to not get caught up in the constant pressure to enter into simple dualisms in thinking – in believe that that the world actually broken into "liberal" and "conservative" realities, and that all I had to do was pick the team that was right about everything and condemn the one that was (conveniently) wrong about everything. His was, with Mother Teresa and John Paul II, perhaps the voice I most recognized as prophetic within my lifetime. At the same time, and perhaps as he would have insisted himself, his voice became less pertinent to me as he returned to the new Russia and became less international and focused on speaking to a land and culture that was not, in the end, mine.



Solzhenitsyn, chronicler of Soviet gulag, dies
Aug 4, 12:56 AM (ET)

By DOUGLAS BIRCH

MOSCOW (AP) - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian author whose books chronicled the horrors of dictator Josef Stalin's slave labor camps, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.

Stepan Solzhenitsyn told The Associated Press his father died late Sunday at his home near Moscow, but declined further comment.

Through unflinching accounts of the years he spent in the Soviet gulag, Solzhenitsyn's novels and non-fiction works exposed the secret history of the vast prison system that enslaved millions. The accounts riveted his countrymen and earned him years of bitter exile, but international renown.

And they inspired millions, perhaps, with the knowledge that one person's courage and integrity could, in the end, defeat the totalitarian machinery of an empire.

Beginning with the 1962 short novel "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," Solzhenitsyn (sohl-zheh-NEETS'-ihn) devoted himself to describing what he called the human "meat grinder" that had caught him along with millions of other Soviet citizens: capricious arrests, often for trifling and seemingly absurd reasons, followed by sentences to slave labor camps where cold, starvation and punishing work crushed inmates physically and spiritually.

His non-fiction "Gulag Archipelago" trilogy of the 1970s shocked readers by describing the savagery of the Soviet state under Stalin. It helped erase lingering sympathy for the Soviet Union among many leftist intellectuals, especially in Europe.

But his account of that secret system of prison camps was also inspiring in its description of how one person - Solzhenitsyn himself - survived, physically and spiritually, in a penal system of soul-crushing hardship and injustice.

The West offered him shelter and accolades. But Solzhenitsyn's refusal to bend despite enormous pressure, perhaps, also gave him the courage to criticize Western culture for what he considered its weakness and decadence.

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

During the 1990s, his stalwart nationalist views, his devout Orthodoxy, his disdain for capitalism and disgust with the tycoons who bought Russian industries and resources cheaply following the Soviet collapse, were unfashionable. He faded from public view.

But under Vladimir Putin's 2000-2008 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 argued, as Solzhenitsyn did in a speech at Harvard University in 1978, that Russia has a separate civilization from the West, one that can't be reconciled either to Communism or western-style liberal democracy, but requires a system adapted to its history and traditions.

Putin's successor Dmitry Medvedev sent condolences after news of Solzhenitsyn's death, Russian media reported.

"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 in the Harvard speech. "For one thousand years, Russia has belonged to such a category."

Born Dec. 11, 1918, in Kislovodsk, Solzhenitsyn served as a front-line artillery captain in World War II. In the closing weeks of the war, he was arrested for writing what he called "certain disrespectful remarks" about Stalin in a letter to a friend, referring to him as "the man with the mustache."

He was sentenced to eight years in labor camps -- three of which he served in a camp in the barren steppe of Kazakhstan that was the basis for his first novel. After that, he served three years of exile in Kazakhstan.

That's where he began to write, memorizing much of his work so it wouldn't be lost if it were seized. His theme was the suffering and injustice of life in Stalin's gulag - a Soviet abbreviation for the slave labor camp system, which Solzhenitsyn made part of the lexicon.

He continued writing while working as a mathematics teacher in the provincial Russian city of Ryazan.

The first fruit of this labor was "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," the story of a carpenter struggling to survive in a Soviet labor camp, where he had been sent, like Solzhenitsyn, after service in the war.

The book was published in 1962 by order of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who was eager to discredit the abuses of Stalin, his predecessor, and created a sensation in a country where unpleasant truths were spoken in whispers, if at all. Abroad, the book - which went through numerous revisions - was lauded not only for its bravery, but for its spare, unpretentious language.

After Khrushchev was ousted in 1964, Solzhenitsyn began facing KGB harassment, publication of his works was blocked and he was expelled from the Soviet Writers Union. But he was undeterred.

"A great writer is, so to speak, a secret government in his country," he wrote in "The First Circle," his next novel, a book about inmates in one of Stalin's "special camps" for scientists who were deemed politically unreliable but whose skills were essential.

Solzhenitsyn, a graduate from the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Rostov University, was sent to one of these camps in 1946, soon after his arrest.

The novel "Cancer Ward", which appeared in 1967, was another fictional worked based on Solzhenitsyn's life. In this case, the subject was his cancer treatment in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then part of Soviet Central Asia, during his years of internal exile from March 1953, the month of Stalin's death, until June 1956.

In the book, cancer became a metaphor for the fatal sickness of the Soviet system. "A man sprouts a tumor and dies -- how then can a country live that has sprouted camps and exile?"

He attacked the complicity of millions of Russians in the horrors of Stalin's reign.

"Suddenly all the professors and engineers turned out to be saboteurs - and they believed it? ... Or all of Lenin's old guard were vile renegades - and they believed it? Suddenly all their friends and acquaintances were enemies of the people - and they believed it?"

The Stalinist era, he wrote, quoting from a poem by Alexander Pushkin, forced Soviet citizens to choose one of three roles: tyrant, traitor, prisoner.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, an unusual move for the Swedish Academy, which generally makes awards late in an author's life after decades of work. The academy cited "the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature."

Soviet authorities barred the author from traveling to Stockholm to receive the award and official attacks were intensified in 1973 when the first book in the "Gulag" trilogy appeared in Paris.

"During all the years until 1961," Solzhenitsyn wrote in an autobiography written for the Nobel Foundation, "not only was I convinced that I should never see a single line of mine in print in my lifetime, but, also, I scarcely dared allow any of my close acquaintances to read anything I had written because I feared that this would become known."

The following year, he was arrested on a treason charge and expelled the next day to West Germany in handcuffs. His expulsion inspired worldwide condemnation of the regime of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

Solzhenitsyn then made his homeland in America, settling in 1976 in the tiny town of Cavendish, Vermont, with his wife and sons.

Living at a secluded hillside compound he rarely left, he called his 18 years there the most productive of his life. There he worked on what he considered to be his life's work, a multivolume saga of Russian history titled "The Red Wheel."

Although free from repression, Solzhenitsyn longed for his native land. Neither was he enchanted by Western democracy, with its emphasis on individual freedom.

To the dismay of his supporters, in his Harvard speech he rejected the West's faith "Western pluralistic democracy" as the model for all other nations. It was a mistake, he warned, for Western societies to regard the failure of the rest of the world to adopt the democratic model as a product of "wicked governments or by heavy crises or by their own barbarity or incomprehension."

Some critics saw "The Red Wheel" books as tedious and hectoring, rather than as sweeping and lit by moral fire.

"Exile from his great theme, Stalinism and the gulag, had exposed his major weaknesses," D.M. Thomas wrote in a 1998 biography, theorizing that the intensity of the earlier works was "a projection of his own repressed violence."

Then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev restored Solzhenitsyn's citizenship in 1990 and the treason charge was finally dropped in 1991, less than a month after a failed Soviet coup.

Following an emotional homecoming that started in the Russian Far East on May 27, 1994, and became a whistle-stop tour across the country, Solzhenitsyn settled in a tree-shaded, red brick home overlooking the Moscow River just west of the capital.

While avoiding a partisan political role, Solzhenitsyn vowed to speak "the whole truth about Russia, until they shut my mouth like before."

He was contemptuous of President Boris Yeltsin, blaming Yeltsin for the collapse of Russia's economy, his dependence on bailouts by the International Monetary Fund, his inability to stop the expansion of NATO to Russia's borders, his tolerance of the rising influence of a handful of Russian billionaires - who were nicknamed "oligarchs" by an American diplomat.

Yeltsin's reign, Solzhenitsyn said, marked one of three "times of troubles" in Russian history - which included the 17th century crises that led to the rise of the Romanovs and the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. When Yeltsin awarded Solzhenitsyn Russia's highest honor, the Order of St. Andrew, the writer refused to accept it. When Yeltsin left office in 2000, Solzhenitsyn wanted him prosecuted.

The author's last book, 2001's "Two Hundred Years Together," addressed the complex emotions of Russian-Jewish relations. Some criticized the book for alleged anti-Semitic passages. But the author denied the charge, saying he "understood the subtlety, sensitivity and kindheartedness of the Jewish character."

Yeltsin's successor Putin at first had a rocky relationship with Solzhenitsyn, who criticized the Russian president in 2002 for not doing more to crack down on Russia's oligarchs. Putin was also a veteran of the Soviet-era KGB, the agency that, more than any other, represented the Soviet legacy of repression.

But the two men, so different, gradually developed a rapport. By steps, Putin adopted Solzhenitsyn's criticisms of the West, perhaps out of a recognition that Russia really is a different civilization, perhaps because the author offered justification for the Kremlin's determination to muzzle critics, to reassert control over Russia's natural resources and to concentrate political power.

Like Putin, Solzhenitsyn argued that Russia was following its own path to its own form of democratic society. In a June 2005 interview with state television, he said Russia had lost 15 years following the collapse of the Soviet Union by moving too quickly in the rush to build a more liberal society.

"We need to be better, so we need to go more slowly," he said

Following the death of Naguib Mahfouz in 2006, Solzhenitsyn became the oldest living Nobel laureate in literature. He is survived by his wife, Natalya, who acted as his spokesman, and his three sons, including Stepan, Ignat, a pianist and conductor, and Yermolai. All live in the United States.

---_

Correspondent Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report



Obituary: Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who has died at the age of 89, played a significant role in ending communism. His novels were beautifully crafted, damning indictments of the repressive Soviet regime.

Born into a family of Cossack intellectuals, Alexander Solzhenitsyn graduated in mathematics and physics, but within weeks the Soviet Union was fighting Hitler for its survival.

Solzhenitsyn served as an artillery officer and was decorated for his courage, but in 1945 was denounced for criticising Stalin in a letter.

He spent the next eight years as one of the countless men enduring the gulags. He was one of the lucky ones to survive.

There followed a period of internal exile in Kazakhstan during which Solzhenitsyn was successfully treated for stomach cancer.

Instant celebrity

On his return to European Russia, he was allowed, following Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin, to publish his largely autobiographical One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, in 1962.

This made him an instant celebrity. But with the subsequent fall from power of the reformist Khrushchev, the KGB stepped up its harassment of Solzhenitsyn, forcing him to publish his work abroad.

His novels The First Circle and Cancer Ward were further damning allegories of the Soviet system.

In 1970, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But he refused to attend the award ceremony in Stockholm for fear of not being allowed back home.

In 1973, the first of the three volumes of The Gulag Archipelago was published in the West. He had been hiding the novel from the authorities, fearful that people mentioned in it would suffer reprisals.

Branded a traitor

But his former assistant, Elizaveta Voronyanskaya, revealed its location after being interrogated by the KGB after which she hanged herself.

So Solzhenitsyn decided to publish it. The Gulag Archipelago offered a detailed account of the systematic Soviet abuses from 1918 to 1956 in the vast network of prison and labour camps.

Its publication led to a violent campaign against Solzhenitsyn in the Soviet press which denounced him as a traitor.

In early 1974, even Solzhenitsyn's world reputation could not prevent his arrest. But rather than put him on trial, the Soviet authorities stripped him of his citizenship and expelled him from the country.

In exile, he continued to be a source of controversy, notably when he issued a series of documents which cast serious doubt on Mikhail Sholokov's authorship of the novel And Quiet Flows the Don.

Many of his utterances were discursive and even baffling, and the admiration for him was not entirely uncritical.

Eventually, he settled in Vermont in the USA with his second wife and their three sons. Here, he completed the other two volumes of The Gulag Archipelago.

Return to Russia

Prussian Nights, a long narrative poem about the Red Army's vengeful advance into East Prussia in 1945, was published in 1977. He was said to have composed the poem and committed it to memory 25 years before, during his years in prison.

But Solzhenitsyn also rejected liberalism, dismissing the notion of democracy introduced by Gorbachev and Yeltsin as a myth. He was equally scathing of Western liberalism.

He returned to Russia in 1994 and told the Russian parliament, the Duma, that post-communist Russians were not living in a democracy.

He denounced politicians as being corrupt, and appeared regularly on television to voice his disapproval of the country which had first reviled and then embraced him.

In 2000, his book, Two Hundred Years Together, again covered sensitive ground in exploring the position of Jews in Soviet society.

He denied some charges of anti-Semitism. Gradually, his own people no longer had quite the desire to listen so carefully to his criticisms.

But former President Vladimir Putin courted his approval towards the end of the author's life, personally visiting his home in 2007 to award him the State Prize of the Russian Federation for his humanitarian work.

In 2006, the first Russian film based on one of his novels - The First Circle (V Kruge Pervom) - was shown on Russian state television, four decades after it was published.

The 10-part TV film depicted the terror of Stalin's regime, describing the Soviet Union as a huge prison camp.

Also in 2006, Solzhenitsyn, then 87, castigated Nato, accusing it of trying to bring Russia under its control.

He accused the organisation of "preparing to completely encircle Russia and deprive if of its sovereignty".

By then, Alexander Solzhenitsyn had already secured his place in history as one of the greatest Russian writers of the 20th Century.


Nobel laureate and Soviet dissident Solzhenitsyn dies
DAVID HENRY

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the dissident Russian writer and Nobel laureate whose portrayals of Josef Stalins labour camps and political oppression helped undermine the Soviet grip on power, has died, his son said. He was 89.

He died of heart failure, Stephan Solzhenitsyn said.

Solzhenitsyn revealed to the Western world the inner workings of the gulag, the network of prisons and camps that held as many as 20 million people during Stalins reign of terror and killed at least 1.5 million. He became a thorn in the side of Soviet authorities and was an icon for Russian intellectuals, helping trigger the demise of the communist regime with his calls for social conscience and historical justice.

"No writer that I can think of in history really was able to do so much through courage and literary skill to change the society they came from, wrote David Remnick, the New Yorker magazine editor whose account of the Soviet collapse in Lenins Tomb won the Pulitzer Prize. "And to some extent, you have to credit the literary works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn with helping to bring down the last empire on Earth.

Solzhenitsyn, who wrote more than 20 books, drew on his own experience as a political prisoner in his early works, including One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. He was stripped of citizenship, moving to Switzerland in 1974 before emigrating to the US two years later.

International recognition earned Solzhenitsyn a place in the ranks of the countrys most prominent dissidents, who included nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov, writer Vladimir Bukovsky and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Some turned to samizdat, the secret copying and distribution of banned literature, to promote human rights and freedom of expression. Others used self- censorship by employing Aesopian language to deliver a political message to Russian intellectuals without appearing on the radar of the Soviet censors.

Solzhenitsyns passion for Russian culture and disillusionment with Western consumerism prompted a return to the country of his birth in 1994.

His ideas were considered anachronistic in post-Communist Russia and he received little public attention in later years. Russian writer Aleksandr Genis described the repatriated Solzhenitsyn as "the last remaining prophet in the abandoned temple of absolute truth".

Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was born on December 11th, 1918, in Kislovodsk, a north Caucasian town between the Black and Caspian seas.

Solzhenitsyn studied mathematics at Rostov University and took a correspondence course at the Institute of History, Philosophy and Literature in Moscow. He served in World War II as commander of an artillery-position-finding unit on the frontline. While in East Prussia, he was arrested in February 1945 for writing disrespectful remarks about Stalin in letters to a friend.

The sentence was eight years in a detention camp, considered relatively lenient at the time. The periods he spent in various camps and prisons were documented in works such as The Tenderfoot and the Tramp, The First Circle and Ivan Denisovich. He later said he wouldnt have survived his sentence if his mathematics skills hadnt earned him a transfer to a sharashka, a secret research laboratory where inmates developed new technologies and were spared hard labour.

In March 1953, Solzhenitsyn was sent into "exile for life" in Kok-Terek, a town in southern Kazakhstan. A year later, he was allowed to travel to Tashkent for successful treatment of stomach cancer.

His time in the clinic inspired the book Cancer Ward, which was published in 1968. All of his writing in exile was done in secret and financed by his job teaching mathematics and physics.

"During all the years until 1961, not only was I convinced that I should never see a single line of mine in print in my lifetime, but, also, I scarcely dared allow any of my close acquaintances to read anything I had written," he wrote in an autobiographical profile submitted for his Nobel Prize in 1970. After the 22nd Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in 1961,

Solzhenitsyn gambled that the thaw in political thinking would allow his works to be published. He approached Aleksandr Tvardovsky, the editor of Novy Mir magazine, who agreed to release Ivan Denisovich the following year.

The authorities terminated the printing of the book almost immediately and Solzhenitsyns papers were confiscated.

In 1969, he was expelled from the Soviet Writers Union for denouncing censorship in the country. Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize a year later, though he didnt attend the ceremony. "We all know that an artists work cannot be contained within the wretched dimension of politics," he said in Stockholm in 1974 at a banquet celebrating his Nobel Prize four years earlier. "For this dimension cannot hold the whole of our life and we must not restrain our social consciousness within its bounds." Solzhenitsyn spent about two years in Zurich after he was exiled abroad. There he wrote his autobiography, The Oak and the Calf, and Lenin in Zurich, a book debunking the myths surrounding the father of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin. In 1976, Solzhenitsyn moved with his family to Cavendish, Vermont, where he lived in isolation and wrote The Red Wheel, a historical series on the 1917 Russian Revolution.

For almost two decades he was rarely seen in public, with the notable exception of his commencement speech at Harvard University in June 1978. On that occasion, he lambasted the moral decrepitude of Western society, which stood at "the abyss of human decadence" and "in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive."

In 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev restored Solzhenitsyns citizenship and treason charges were dropped against the writer the following year. His return to Russia in 1994, preceded by an audience with Pope John Paul II during a stopover in Rome, failed to ease Solzhenitsyns alienation.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia embraced the consumerism that he so despised in the West, while its political system fell under the control of oligarchs whose actions bore a troubling resemblance to those of the old Soviet leaders.

"It is as if, just having survived the heaviest case of cholera, to immediately upon recuperation get the plague," he said of the transition. Solzhenitsyns wife, Natalia, returned with him to Russia, while their three sons - Yermolai, Stephan and Ignat - remained in the US, where they held citizenship.

"As the Russian saying goes, 'Do not believe your brother, believe your own crooked eye'. And that is the most sound basis for an understanding of the world around us and of human conduct in it, Solzhenitsyn once said. - (Bloomberg)


Solzhenitsyn death leaves complex legacy in Russia
Aug 4, 3:57 PM
By JIM HEINTZ

MOSCOW (AP) - Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Vladimir Putin could have seemed like natural enemies - a writer plagued by the secret police and a president who started his career with the KGB.

But by the time of the Nobel Prize-winning Solzhenitsyn's death at age 89 on Sunday he had warmed to Putin's vision of Russia. His death left a complex legacy - vividly intense books standing up for human dignity and free thought, but support for a man widely criticized as pushing Russia back into repressive ways.

As a young author, Solzhenitsyn earned worldwide acclaim as an unbending dissident whose books exposed dictator Josef Stalin's network of slave labor camps and undermined the Soviet system.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who closed the last of the Soviet political prisons in the 1980s, praised Solzhenitsyn as "one of the first who spoke aloud about the inhuman Stalinist regime and about the people who experienced it but were not broken."

But Putin, a veteran of the KGB that waged a campaign of harassment against Solzhenitsyn in the 1960s and '70s who is now prime minister after eight years as president, also laid claim to the writer's memory.

Putin called Solzhenitsyn "our compatriot and contemporary," saying the "entire thorny path of his life will remain for us an example of genuine devotion and selfless serving to the people, fatherland and the ideals of freedom, justice and humanism."

Solzhenitsyn's nonfiction trilogy, "The Gulag Archipelago," published in the 1970s, shocked the Soviet elite, helped destroy lingering support for the Soviet experiment in the West and inspired a generation of dissidents in the Soviet Union.

While he was relentless in exposing the tyranny of the Stalinist era, he became a fierce critic of the West and embraced Putin-era efforts to weaken or abolish democratic institutions in the early 21st century.

Viktor Pavlov, a 69-year-old writer who worked amid Soviet labor camps in the Arctic city of Norilsk in the 1950s, said he worried that Solzhenitsyn's passing could stifle what little dissent remains in Russia.

"While Solzhenitsyn accepted Putinism, the writer always remained the man who embodied openness, criticism of the powers-that-be, the powers that Putin all his life served," Pavlov said in Paris, where he now lives after fleeing what he said was pressure from Russian authorities over his writings in 2006.

Nina L. Khrushcheva called Solzhenitsyn an ally of her great-grandfather, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, in the effort to dismantle the cruel legacy of the his predecessor - dictator Josef Stalin.

She called the Gulag trilogy "this incredible monument to the horrors of Stalinism." But she, too, was critical of his embrace of Putin, saying Solzhenitsyn's Russian nationalism was even stronger than his anti-Stalinism.

One of Solzhenitsyn's sons, Stepan, defended his father's view, saying Russia under Putin has changed in ways that pleased his father. "Undoubtedly, Russia has turned some kind of corner," he said. "Look around you. This is not a country where people cower in fear."

Born Dec. 11, 1918, Solzhenitsyn served as a front-line artillery captain in World War II, then in the war's closing weeks was arrested for calling Stalin "the man with the mustache" in a letter to a friend.

He was sentenced to eight years in labor camps. After that, he served three years of exile in Kazakhstan. It was during this period that he began to write, and continued to do so while working as a mathematics teacher.

His first book, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch," was published in 1962 by Khrushchev's order.

The book created a sensation in a country where unpleasant truths were spoken in whispers, if at all. Abroad, "One Day" was lauded not only for its bravery, but for its spare, unpretentious language.

After Khrushchev was ousted in 1964, Solzhenitsyn faced KGB harassment, publication of his works was blocked and he was expelled from the Soviet Writers Union. But he was undeterred.

In the novel "Cancer Ward," which appeared in 1967, cancer became a metaphor for the fatal sickness of the Soviet system - a system, he wrote, that forced Soviet citizens to choose one of three roles: tyrant, traitor, prisoner.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, but Soviet authorities barred him from traveling to Stockholm, Sweden, to attend the ceremony. Pressure from the government only increased in 1973 when the first book in the "Gulag" trilogy appeared in Paris.

The following year, Solzhenitsyn was arrested on treason charges and expelled the next day to West Germany in handcuffs. His expulsion inspired worldwide condemnation of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

Solzhenitsyn eventually moved to America, settling in the tiny town of Cavendish, Vt., with his wife and sons, for the next 18 years. There he worked on what he considered his life's work, a multi-volume saga of Russian history titled "The Red Wheel."

Gorbachev restored Solzhenitsyn's citizenship in 1990 and the treason charge was dropped in 1991. He returned home with uncharacteristic fanfare in 1994.

Besides his wife, Natalya, Solzhenitsyn is survived by his three sons, including Stepan, Ignat and Yermolai.

Public viewing of Solzhenitsyn's body is to take place Tuesday at the Russian Academy of Sciences, with his funeral and burial the following day at Moscow's Donskoi Monastery.

---

Associated Press writers Douglas Birch, Paul Sonne and Dave Nowak in Moscow and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.
Comments 
4th-Aug-2008 06:12 pm (UTC) - Cancer Ward
Anonymous
I had to read Cancer Ward in grad school for a class on ethics. I remember spending an entire day whizzing through it. I personally had never read anything like it and loved it. Then I remember going to class the next day and hearing all the complaints and the number of people who couldn't get past the first few chapters. A Day in the Life of Ivan Dasonivich (sp?) is one of Chad's favorites; and I have yet to read it.
Ang
4th-Aug-2008 09:20 pm (UTC) - Re: Cancer Ward
Huh. I didn't know that your tastes ran in this direction, too. Cancer Ward isn't one I've touched, though Ivan Denisovitch was the first that I read in school, and it hit me in the way you've described. Interesting to know that "I didn't like it" is an acceptable cop-out among grad students – sheesh!
4th-Aug-2008 09:36 pm (UTC) - Re: Cancer Ward
Anonymous
Whew I butchered the spelling didn't I? Well I don't believe the prof then said, "go ahead you can skip this one." Reading a book one doesn't like makes me think of my book club. We always give a brief weigh in regarding our like or dislike of a book. There have been several I have not really preferred. But I am finding one can still discuss and converse about a book they don't prefer. Now if I didn't prefer 100% of our reads, I would probably begin to grumble. But I have found there is a place for reading something we don't like. Ang
9th-Dec-2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you posted your year in review. I totally missed this piece of news as this was my only vacation week.

I have yet to read any of his works, but Solzhenitsyn was heavily quoted by my favourite law professor, Ian Hunter, all the time. I think professor Hunter considered his 3 greatest influences of the 20th century to be Malcom Muggeridge, C.S. Lewis and Aleksandre Solzhenitsyn.
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