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RIP - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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  • RIP - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    I read "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" back in high school. You definately didn't want to get on the wrong side of the Party.

    Russians mourn dissident hero Solzhenitsyn

    Mon Aug 4, 2008 8:13am EDT
    By Maria Golovnina
    MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russians on Monday mourned Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the author and dissident whose criticism of the tyranny of Soviet rule made him one of the bravest figures of the 20th century.

    Solzhenitsyn, a Nobel literature laureate, died of heart failure late on Sunday in his Moscow home. He was 89.

    On Monday, a chorus of voices across the world expressed grief at the death of a man whose struggle exposed the horror of Josef Stalin's camps and made him the conscience of Russia.

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, described Solzhenitsyn as a "man of unique destiny whose name will remain in Russia's history."

    "He was one of the first people who spoke up about the inhumanity of Stalin's regime with a full voice, and about the people whose lived through this but were not broken," Gorbachev, told Interfax news agency.

    A funeral service will take place at the medieval Donskoi monastery in Moscow on Wednesday and Solzhenitsyn will be buried there later that day in accordance with his will, said a Russian Orthodox church spokesman.

    President Dmitry Medvedev and top Russian officials as well as global leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. President George W. Bush sent their condolences.

    "The death of Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn is a heavy loss for the whole of Russia," said a telegram from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former agent with the KGB security service that led the persecution campaign against Solzhenitsyn.
    Long banned from publication, Solzhenitsyn owed his initial fame to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who allowed the publication in 1962 of his "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", which described the horrifying routine of labor camp life.

    He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970 for his work, including "Gulag Archipelago", a chronicle of his own and thousands of other prison camp experiences.
    In his books, he shook consciences by unveiling the dark secrets of the Gulag, the network of prison camps where millions of Russians died during Stalin's purges. Some read and distributed his books underground, fearing state persecution.

    In 1974, he was stripped of his citizenship and put on a plane to West Germany for refusing to keep silent about his country's past. He became an icon of resistance to the totalitarian system from his American home in Vermont.

    In Troitse-Lykovo in the outskirts of Moscow where Solzhenitsyn spent his final years, passers-by paid tribute by tucking flowers into the blue-painted gate of his house.
    "It's a great loss for our family. It's also a loss for the country," his son Stepan told Reuters. "He was always really happy he returned. This is his home."
    Solzhenitsyn refused to return to Russia until after the Soviet Union collapsed, marking his comeback in a long train journey from Vladivostok on the Pacific coast to Moscow in 1994.

    After his return, the post-Soviet leadership paid him great respect. But he became increasingly critical of the state of modern day Russia, denouncing corruption and Western influences in a society that had emerged from 80 years of Soviet rule.
    He lived in seclusion outside Moscow, playing no discernible role in Russian political life and rarely appearing in public.

    In a bookstore in central Moscow, a selection of his most famous books was put on display beneath a large black-and-white portrait of the author.

    Television channels and radio stations ran constant solemn reports on his life but some younger Russians confessed they knew little about his work.
    "He is very famous. I'm just starting his works," said Viktoria Danilova, a 17-year-old in central Moscow. "Unfortunately I haven't read very much yet."

  • #2
    I also read 1914 and the Gulag series when I was in college...those are some big books.

    I always imagined that Solzhenitsyn's personality would be just like the Russian writer featured on one of the Seinfeld episodes. A cranky dissident that also found much wrong with America and had an irritable mean streak. Like the character in that particular Seinfeld episode he probably also had a real aversion to modern electronics.
    Sponsor of Alex Pieterangelo.

    ..."I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered." George Best