03 August 2008

A.I. Solzhenitsyn, 1918-2008

"Somebody in the room was bellowing: "Old Man Whiskers won't ever let you go! He wouldn't trust his own brother, let alone a bunch of cretins like you!"

The good thing about hard-labour camps is that you have all the freedom in the world to sound off. In Ust-Izhma you'd only have to whisper that people couldn't buy matches outside and they'd clap another ten on you. Here you could shout anything you liked from a top bunk and the stoolies wouldn't report it, because the security officer couldn't care less. "

(From One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich)

Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn's novella was my first brush with Russian literature, hiding as it was on one of the shelves in the School Library ten years ago. And if you can find a copy of his Collected Short Stories and Prose Poems then I recommend you read them. But it was thanks to him that I got into Russian Literature and without his work I don't think I'd have enjoyed reading Pushkin, Lermontov, Bulgakov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Gogol and the like as much as I did when I took Russian Studies at Uni.

Spasibo, Aleksandr Isaevich. Ia vas nikogda ne zabudu.


Julie said...

I did like his 'grumpy old man' persona, where he ticked off the East for its totalitarianism and the West for its greed. He'll be a miss. I tried but never got into Russian Lit; I read the Brothers Karamazov and that just about finished me off, and I couldnae be bothered with Anna Karenina; I just thought she was a pain...just shows what a pleb I am.

Anonymous said...

So unfortunate that his book, 'Two Hundred Years Together', in which he details, inter alia, large Jewish culpability for the Russian revolution, has never found a publisher for its English translation. This must surely be both a first for a Nobel prize winning writer and a victory for Jewish interests.