BrothersJudd.com
Loading

Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at audible.com!
Download and Listen to any Audiobook for only $7.49. Save 50% for 3 months on over 100,000 Titles.

    I dedicate this to all those who did not live to tell it.  And may they please forgive me for not
    having seen it all nor remembered it all, for not having divined it all.
        -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Author's epigraph to The Gulag Archipelago

    It seemed as if it was no longer I who was writing; rather, I was swept along, my hand was being
    moved by an outside force, and I was only the firing pin attached to a spring.
        -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Invisible Allies
 

It certainly helps that he looks like a figure out of the Old Testament, but Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's enduring image is likely to be that of the prophet of the Soviet Union's doom.  No one, including Ronald Reagan, deserves more credit for making the West, and Russia itself, face the fact that Communism was evil, that it had to be defeated, and that it was entirely possible to defeat it.  Where One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, his most widely read work, is a devastating portrait in miniature of the effects of Soviet oppression on one man, the multi-volume Gulag Archipelago is the sprawling canvas upon which he depicts the entire vile system, sweeping across the decades since 1917 and touching upon every facet of society.  It is, in essence, the Prosecutor's indictment, stating the case against the enormous criminal enterprise that was the U. S. S. R.  It's always seemed to me that the only document you can really compare it to is Martin Luther's 95 Theses.  It too represented a righteous and unanswerable rebuke to a seemingly invincible institution, served as a rallying point for reformers and outright opponents, and ultimately contributed to wholesale changes in that institution (Reformation and Counter-Reformation of the Catholic Church in one case, eventual demise in the case of the Soviet Union) which would have been nearly inconceivable in its absence.

The Gulag represents Solzhenitsyn's attempt to document nearly every phase of the Bolshevik's use of the police apparatus and prison camps for the suppression of dissent, or suspected dissent.  Using a wide range of actual examples--many of them personal, others taken from fellow prisoners he might while he was detained--he takes the reader step-by-step through the process of arrest, interrogation, conviction (always conviction), transportation, and imprisonment.  One is prepared for a tone of righteous indignation and bitter irony, but I was surprised to find here a kind of dark good humor.  Perhaps this is done for effect, Mr. Solzhenitsyn suggesting that the claims of criminality upon which the authorities persecuted, and murdered, so many are worthy of only bemusement.  After all, what can be more dangerous to absolute power than for people to greet it with contemptuous laughter?  Obviously nothing, since Mr. Solzhenitsyn was banished from the Soviet Union on February 13, 1974, just two months after portions of this work began appearing in print in the West, after the KGB had obtained a draft copy.  In all likelihood, Mr. Solzhenitsyn's life was only spared because he was already a Nobel Laureate by then, having won the prize in 1970, though he was forbidden to travel outside the country at that time to accept it.

Besides offering a comprehensive Russian account of Soviet terror, Mr. Solzhenitsyn does something of extraordinary importance here, the importance of which most in the West did not fully comprehend until after the collapse of the Soviet Union, if then : he drapes the crimes of Communism around the neck of not just Stalin but of Lenin too, and traces the roots of the terror to the very philosophy of Communism itself.  It had been a convenient myth for party members in the Soviet Union and fellow travelers here in that the Russian Revolution had been a noble cause and an initial success that was gradually corrupted by the personal evil of just one man, Stalin.  True believers clung to this idea both to justify their collaboration with the regime and to give themselves hope that the system could be reformed, to get it back on its original track.  Mr. Solzhenitsyn began the process of yanking this prop out from under them, of demonstrating that the system was rotten to its evil core, that no past actions were justified and no just future was possible.  In his excellent book, Lenin's Tomb, David Remnick makes a convincing case that Gorbachev failed to understand this critique and its power, and failed to anticipate that it would be the central feature of Glasnost, delegitimizing and destabilizing communism entire, whereas he expected only criticism of certain past leaders and practices, which he could use to his own advantage.

In later years Mr. Solzhenitsyn would move on to an equally powerful criticism of the moral vacuousness and extreme individualism of the West, earning him the loathing of Western intellectual elites.  Now, after the fall of the Soviet Union, he has become a harsh critic of the new Russia, for its failure to return to its roots in Orthodox Christianity, earning him the enmity of Russian bureaucrats.  You would think that folks might have learned that he is a prophet whose jeremiads you ignore at your own risk.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

Websites:

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
    -OBIT: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1918–2008: Russian traditionalist, Nobel laureate, feted in the West for criticism of Soviet Communism, then spurned for rejecting liberal materialism (Andrew Cusack, 3 August 2008, Norumbega)
    -OBIT: The death of Solzhenitsyn: The Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov on how the author of the Gulag Archipelago, who related the terrible truth about Soviet totalitarianism, outlived his era to become something of a living monument to Russia's past (Andrey Kurkov, 05 August 2008, New Statesman)
    -In Memoriam: Solzhenitsyn's Life And Writings (Forbes, 8/05/08)
    -INTERVIEW: Alexander Solzhenitsyn On The New Russia (Paul Klebnikov, May 9, 1994, Forbes)
    -ESSAY: The Prophet at Harvard (Dinesh D'Souza, 8/05/08, AOL News)
    -OBIT: The man who shook the Kremlin: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who died this week, was instrumental in bringing the Soviet Union to its knees, and he never wavered from his belief in a writer's moral responsibility to truth and beauty (Alexander Nazaryan, 8/05/08, Salon)
    -OBIT: Chronicler of the gulag (The Australian, August 05, 2008)
    -OBIT: Nobel Winner Chronicled Tyranny of Soviet Union (J.Y. Smith, 8/04/08, The Washington Post)
    -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)
    -OBIT: Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, R.I.P. (National Review, 8/04/08)
    -OBIT: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the man who exposed the horrors of Soviet Communism, dies aged 89 (Tamara Cohen, 04th August 2008, Daily Mail)
    -OBIT: CHRONICLER OF THE GULAGS: Russian Literary Giant Solzhenitsyn Dies: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the man whose writings exposed the brutality of Stalin's murderous labor camps, has died at the age of 89. Death, he told SPIEGEL last year, "is a natural milestone of one's existence." (Der Spiegel, 8/04/08)
    -VIDEO: Solzhenitsyn Dies at 89; David Remnick Reflects (Open Culture)
    -ESSAY: Understanding Solzhenitsyn (William F. Buckley Jr., April 14, 1976, National Review)
    -ESSAY: Solzhenitsyn -- a Rightist? (William F. Buckley Jr., August 1975, National Review)
    -OBIT: Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies aged 89 (Damien Francis, 8/04/.08, guardian.co.uk)
    -INTERVIEW: An Interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Joseph Pearce, February 2003, St. Austin Review)
    -INTERVIEW: 'I Am Not Afraid of Death': In an interview with SPIEGEL, prominent Russian writer and Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn discusses Russia's turbulent history, Putin's version of democracy and his attitude to life and death. (Der Spiegel, 7/23/07)
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies at 89 (BBC, 8/03/08)
Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who exposed Stalin's prison system in his novels and spent 20 years in exile, has died at 89, Russian media say.

    Obituary: Alexander Solzhenitsyn (BBC, 8/03/08)
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.
The rest of us were the lucky ones. MORE:
    _REVIEW ARCHIVE & LINKS: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (BrothersJudd.com)
    -LECTURE: A World Split Apart (Text of Address by Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises,Thursday, June 8, 1978)
    -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1918 - 2008(dwhudson, August 3, 2008, GreenCine)
   
    -OBIT: Nobel prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies aged 89 (guardian.co.uk, 8/03/08) -OBIT: Soviet Dissident Writer Solzhenitsyn Dies at 89 (Reuters, August 3, 2008)
    -OBIT: Alexander Solzhenitsyn Dies at 89 (VOA News, 03 August 2008)
    -INTERVIEW: The Soul of Solzhenitsyn | An Interview with Joseph Pearce, author of Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile (Ignatius Insight, May 20, 2011)
    -ESSAY: Empire-Slayer (Daniel J. Mahoney, Dec. 19, 2005, National Review)
    The Last Prophet: Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Ian Hunter, July/August 2003, Touchstone)
   -ROUNDTABLE: 1998 AMERICA: TRIUMPHANT? OR IN TROUBLE?: responses to A World Split Apart by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn * John O'Sullivan * Mark Steyn * John Lukacs * Edward Ericson * DavidAikman * Michael Novak, The American Enterprise)
    -REVIEW: of Two Hundred Years Together by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Richard Pipes, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: of The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947–2005, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, edited by Edward E. Ericson, Jr., and Daniel J. Mahoney (Daniel L. Tubbs, Claremont Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile, by Joseph Pearce and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology, by Daniel J. Mahoney (James F. Pontuso, Claremont Review of Books)
Of particular merit is Mahoney's chapter on Pyotr Stolypin, prime minister of Russia from 1906 until 1911, who might be called the "hero" of Solzhenitsyn's Red Wheel. Stolypin, a liberal who nevertheless admired Russia's ancient culture, attempted to reform his nation's semi-feudal political and economic practices while at the same time preserving the old customs and habits that were the bonds tying Russian society together. Stolypin was the only Russian statesman who understood the delicate balance between the old and the new — between conservation and change. His assassination led to the fall of the Tsar, the victory of Bolshevism, and the murder of millions of innocent people crushed under the relentless and inhuman Red Wheel.


Book-related and General Links:
    -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-) (kirjasto)
    -Encyclopædia Britannica : Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich
    -Encyclopædia Britannica : Your search: aleksandr solzhenitsyn
    -Britannica Guide to the Nobel Prizes : Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich
    -The Columbia Encyclopedia : Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich
    -Featured Author: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn : From the Archives of The New York Times
    -The Nobel Prize in Literature 1970 (Nobel E-Museum)
    -Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn Winner of the 1970 Nobel Laureate in Literature (Nobel Prize Internet Archive)
    -Nobel Novelists: Resources
    -Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion : 1983: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    -LECTURE : A World Split Apart (Text of Address by Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises, Thursday, June 8, 1978)
    -EXCERPT : First Chapter of Invisible Allies, By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    -EXCERPT : Chapter One of November 1916. The Red Wheel: Knot II
    -ESSAY : What Kind of 'Democracy' Is This? (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, New York Times, January 4, 1997)
    -ESSAY : Bring God Back Into Politics (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, translated into English by Yermolai Solzhfnitsyn, New Perspectives Quarterly)
    -ESSAY : The Relentless Cult of Novelty And How It Wrecked the Century   (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)
    -ESSAY : What I Learned in the Gulag (Alexander Solzhenitsyn, excerpted from Gulag Archipelago)
    -INTERVIEW : A Talk With Solzhenitsyn (Hilton Kramer, May 11, 1980, NY Times)
    -EXCERPT : CHAPTER ONE of Alexander Solzhenitsyn : A Century in his Life By D. M. THOMAS
    -PROFILE : The Only Living Soviet Classic (Harrison E. Salisbury, October 9, 1970, NY Times)
    -PROFILE : Alexandr Solzhenitsyn : The high school physics-teacher-turned-novelist whose writings shook an empire (Edward E. Ericson, Jr., Christian History, Winter 2000)
    -ESSAY : Russian Gadfly, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Katharena Eiermann, Realm of Existentialism)
    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Hero of History)
    -ARTICLE : Putin meets Solzhenitsyn (Steven Eke, 9/21/00, BBC)
    -ARTICLE :  Solzhenitsyn condemns the new Russia (David Hoffman, June 5, 1998,  The Washington Post)
    -ARTICLE : SOLZHENITSYN FEELS THE STING OF NEGLECT (Fred Kaplan, May 30, 1995, Boston Globe)
    -ESSAY : Solzhenitsyn: Still Telling the Truth He can be ignored, for a while, but never silenced. (NRís editors, November 21, 1994, National Review)
    -ARTICLE : MOSCOW HOMECOMING : GREETED BY 5,000, SOLZHENITSYN ENDS TRIP WITH RENEWED ATTACK (Fred
Kaplan, July 22, 1994, Boston Globe)
    -ESSAY : A Voice in the Wilderness : Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn preaches his message of moral renewal in the hinterlands, but will Moscow listen? (JOHN KOHAN, June 1994, TIME)
    -ARTICLE : Solzhenitsyn's Journey Back : Writer Ends 20-Year Exile, but his Reception is in Doubt (Fred Kaplan, May 24, 1994, Boston Globe)
    -ARTICLE : REAGAN QUOTED SOLZHENITSYN IN ADDRESS TO SOVIETS (January 3, 1988, Boston Globe)
    -ARTICLE : Solzhenitsyn at Work : Amidst Peace of Vermont Hills Russian Exile Writes of Revolution (Bernard Pivot, February 24, 1984, Boston Globe)
    -ARTICLE : Solzhenitsyn Is Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature (October 9, 1970, NY Times)
    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn [Russian Public Fund (Solzhenitsyn's Fund)]
    -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918- ) (Bohemian Ink)
    -Internet Public Library : Online Literary Criticism Collection : Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918 - )
    -Electronic Passport to Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Mr. Dowling)
    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Spartacus)
    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn (D. Tsygankov)
    -ESSAY : The Person of the Century Nominations (Tom Wolfe, TIME)
    -ESSAY : Several Objections to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Aleksandr Podrabinek, This article originally appeared in the Russian weekly
newspaper Express Khronika in response to an by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn printed in Le Monde and The New York Times)
    -ESSAY : A Postmodern Solzhenitsyn? (William H. Thornton, CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture: A WWWeb Journal 1.3 (1999) )
    -ESSAY : Solzhenitsyn condemns the new Russia (David Hoffman, June 5, 1998, The Washington Post)
    -ESSAY : Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the Moral Foundations of Democracy (Dr. Daniel Mahoney)
    -ESSAY : Teapot Tempest? Ã�ORT Drops Solzhenitsyn and Dorenko (Post-Soviet Media Law & Policy Newsletter)
    -ESSAY : Solzhenitsyn. Is he the prophet for our times?
    -ESSAY : Alesandr Solzhenitsyn -  Some Lessons for Americans (George H. Douglas, Liberty Haven)
    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Triumphant Return (Jay Rogers, Forerunner)
    -RUSSIAN EXILE WRITES OF REVOLUTION (Bernard Pivot. Boston Globe)
   -ESSAY: The View from Two Prisons:  The Stranger and Solzhenitsyn's Gulag  (James Bair)
    -Yahoo! Group : solzhenitsyn-l · A discussion group focussed on the life and work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, one of the towering moral
and artistic personalities
    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn : Teacher Resource Guide (Internet School Library Media Center)
    -ONLINE STUDY GUIDE : One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (SparkNote by Debra Grossman)
    -ONLINE STUDY GUIDE : to A Day in the Live of Ivan Denisovich (ClassicNote)
    -ONLINE STUDY GUIDE : to One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Book Rags)
    -TEACHERS' GUIDE : to IVAN DENISOVICH (James R. Cope and Wendy Patrick Cope, Penguin Books)
    -ARCHIVES : "Solzhenitsyn" (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : reviewed author: solzhenitsyn (NY Review of Books)
    -LINKS : SOLZHENITSYN ALEXANDER (Geometry)
    -REVIEW : of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Harrison E. Salisbury , NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of One Day in the Life (Philip Rahv, NY Review of Books)
    -ANNOTATED REVIEW : Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr: The Cancer Ward (Jack Coulehan, Medical Humanities)
    -REVIEW : of The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Raymond Williams, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of August 1914: The Red Wheel Part I by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1971) (Peter Geyer)
    -REVIEW : of The Gulag Archipelago Ã�: 1918-1956. An Experiment in Literary Investigation By Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1974) (Stephen F. Cohen, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO: 1918-1956. An Experiment in Literary Investigation. Volume II. (1975) (Patricia Blake, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO:1918-1956. An Experiment in Literary Investigation. Volume III (1978) (Hilton Kramer, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Oak and the Calf : Sketches of Literary Life in the Soviet Union (1980) (John Leonard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of The Oak and the Calf (Joshua Rubenstein, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW : of REBUILDING RUSSIA : Reflections and Tentative Proposals By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1991) (Daniel Patrick Moynihan, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Russian Question at the End of the 20th Century (1995) (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of The Russian Question (Edward E. Ericson Jr., The Crisis)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916. The Red Wheel: Knot II (1999) Ã�(Richard Bernstein, New York Times)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916. The Red Wheel: Knot II (John Bayley, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916 (Daniel J. Mahoney, Ã�New Criterion)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916  (Alexis Klimoff, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916 (NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, The Nation)
    -ESSAY : Khrushcheva vs. Solzhenitsyn (Salon, 4/23/99)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916 (George Steiner, The Observer)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916 (Neal Ascherson, The Observer)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916 (Philippe D. Radley, World Literature Today)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916 (JUDITH ARMSTRONG, The Age)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916 (Daniel Johnson, booksonline)
    -REVIEW : of November 1916 (Richard Seltzer, Samizdat)
    -REVIEW : of Invisible Allies (Peter Thwaites, For a Change)
    -REVIEW : of Together for Two Hundred Years (Marina Koldobskaya, New Times)
    -REVIEW : of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology. By Daniel J. Mahoney (Robert P. Kraynak, First Things)
    -REVIEW : of Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life. By D. M. Thomas (George Steiner, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life (A.N. Wilson, Literary Review)
    -REVIEW : of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life (Josephine Woll, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW : of Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life (Michael Specter)
    -REVIEW : of Alexander Solzhenitsyn: a Century in His Life (Hilary Spurling, booksonline)
    -REVIEW : of Alexander Solzhenitsyn : A Century in His Life  (Roger Bishop, Book Page)
    -REVIEW : of Alexander Solzhenitsyn : A Century in His Life (WL Webb, ZA Play)
    -REVIEW : of Alexander Solzhenitsyn : A Century in His Life (Alexei Pavlenko, The Denver Post)
    -REVIEW : of Alexander Solzhenitsyn : A Century in His Life (Mike Sweeney, Fort Worth Star-Telegram )
    -REVIEW : of Great Souls: Six Who Changed the Century by David Aikman (Charles W. Colson)
    -REVIEW : of Great Souls (MIKE J. McMANUS, News Herald)
    -REVIEW : of Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile, by Joseph Pearce and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology, by Daniel J. Mahoney ( James F. Pontuso, Claremont Review of Books)
    -BOOK LIST : Modern Tomes : George Nash on 20 Years of Great Conservative Thought (Heritage Foundation)
    -BOOK LIST : 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Century : #2. The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (National Review)

FILM :
    -FILMOGRAPHY : Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Imdb.com)
    -INFO : One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1970) (Imdb.com)
    -INFO : The Knot (1999) (Imdb.com)
    -REVIEW : of The Knot : Written and directed by Aleksandr Sokurov (Alexander Soifer , American Historical Review)

GENERAL :
    -Russian Orthodox Church
    -Post-Soviet Media Law & Policy Newsletter
    -Russia Reform Monitor
    -ARTICLE : Fathe

Comments: