Day By Day

Monday, August 04, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is Gone

From the NYT:
MOSCOW (AP) -- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author whose books chronicled the horrors of the Soviet gulag system, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.

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

Solzhenitsyn's unflinching accounts of torment and survival in the Soviet Union's slave labor camps riveted his countrymen, whose secret history he exposed. They earned him 20 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.

Read it here.

His life and work were a tremendous testimony to moral courage and clarity. He was no friend of the modern world or of western capitalism, but he bore powerful witness to the evil that was the Soviet system and for that he must rank as one of one of the great literary figures of the Twentieth Century. "One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich", which I read at the age of sixteen, haunts me to this day. So does the "Gulag Archipelago" which I read while stationed not far from the "5 K zone" that separated the free nations of Europe from the evil empire. Reading Solzhenitsyn was a significant part of my intellectual development and now that he is gone I can appreciate how important to me it was that he lived.