Solzhenitsyn And Truth Essay

883 words - 4 pages

“In the struggle with falsehood art always did win and it always does win!” Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Soviet dissident, espoused this philosophy to the Swedish Academy. He spoke of the power of art in combating the tyranny and lies of a corrupt government, and as a medium for evaluating society. He was at various times, a soldier in the Soviet army, a political prisoner of the Soviet state, a celebrity for his literary works, and an exile from all of Russia. His fiery philippic against Stalin landed him in prison for eight years; his account of prison life made him immensely popular during the de-Stalinization years of the early 1960’s, and he was deported for his most famous work, The Gulag Archipelago. He has become a symbol of the higher power of artists and writers who have the courage to fight the status quo.
     Alexander Solzhenitsyn was born to Cossack intellectuals in 1918, but was raised entirely by his mother, his father having died before he was born. He went on to major in mathematics at the University of Rostov-na-Donuand and he learned literature from correspondence courses at the Moscow State University. He fought in WWII, and became a captain of artillery, but was arrested in 1945 for writing a letter criticizing Josef Stalin’s totalitarian government. He spent eight years in a variety of labour and prison camps and three more years in enforced exile. After his release, he settled in central Russia where he wrote and taught mathematics. During the early 1960’s, when government checks on culture were loosened, Solzhenitsyn became encouraged to write One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a first-hand account of life as a Soviet political prisoner whose simple, direct language made it an instant hit; Solzhenitsyn was catapulted to instant celebrity status. The work stirred many other Soviet writers to produce works describing their own situations of political imprisonment. Solzhenitsyn soon fell from the state’s grace, however, and was exiled when he attempted to published the first volume of a definitive literary-historical work on the Soviet incarceration system: The Gulag Archipelago. He moved to the USA, where he finished the other two volumes of his masterwork, and returned to Russia in 1996.
     In 1970, Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but was not able to attend the ceremony because of his fear that he wouldn’t be allowed back into the USSR when he returned (cultural restraints were being reinstated after Nikita Khrushchev’s fall from power in 1964). This event may be considered to be his most famous...

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