This is a blog for use in both of my HIS 241 and HIS 242 Russian history survey courses at Northern Virginia Community College.

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01 May 2008

Solzhenitsyn

Almost missed it, but when I was doing some research on Solzhenitsyn for our One Day in the Life assignment, I realized that he will be ninety years old this year. Further, I saw that there were some recent news items, mostly interviews with his wife, that indicated that he is in rapidly, failing health, but that he is still hard at work writing everyday and overseeing the publication of his collected works in 30 volumes--an undertaking that is proceeding at about 5 volumes per year. So it will take some time to publish everything, and these volumes do not include his unpublished materials. He has lead an almost miraculous life, and I don't really see any intellectual or cultural figure on the Russian landscape that even comes close to what he has accomplished or his importance. (After being expelled from the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn and his family lived in Vermont until his return to Russian in 1994.) Read his August 1914 sometime.

6 comments :

John b said...

As of now, Solzhenitsyn is the oldest living Nobel Peace prize winner in literature alive.

Lori P said...

Solzhenitsyn also received the Templeton prize in 1983. This prize is awarded annually to a single, living person who “has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works”. This is the world’s largest annual monetary award. Mother Theresa was the first to receive this reward.

Randa Mumaw said...

His Gulag Archipelago work looks very interesting as well. This narrative is based on eyewitness testimony, primary research material, Solzhenitsyn's own experiences as a prisoner in a Gulag labor camp.

Dana Baker said...

I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in high school. It's about a single day in the life of prisoner in a Soviet labor camp. It was very difficult to read; as you can imagine, it was powerfully depressing! Honestly, I'm surprised the Soviets allowed it to be published.

Heather Fahrenwald said...

Through Solzhenitsyn's writing's he made people aware of the Soviet labor camp system and was awarded the Novel Prize in Literature.

Igor said...

Well, I finally got around to expanding my notes on Solzhenitsyn for my HIS 102, 112 and 242 courses (novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his102/Notes/Solzhenitsyn.html. As I was doing that, it struck me that there was something rather odd--well, odd, might not be the word for it--about the ceremonies connected with his death, funeral and burial. Even though it all happened relatively in accord with his wishes, as far as I know, the regime's embrace of him in death left a lingering bad taste. After all, Solzhenitsyn fought the battle for the human spirit and the spirit of humanism for so many decades, and that battle was so much the antithesis of governments, both in Russia and in the West. But, there as he lay in state, came one government official after another.