Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The only book by Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn I have read is Gulag Archipelago, and that too at a very young age when I had little experience of the real world. I remember I didn’t like the book much because it was more journalism and history than literature, and I found the writer very crass in his critcism of Vladimir Lenin, who he thought to be the person responsible for the vast system of prisons and labour camps in Russia.

But it was an awesome work in terms of first-hand testimony and primary documents of interrogation routines, prisoner indignities, camp massacres and other inhuman practices.

I’ve always wondered how, under constant surveillance of the KGB, he worked on this colossal book living in a camp with single-minded dedication and effort. He had to do his writing secretly, and as soon as he was done with a few pages of writing, he smuggled those pages onto his trusted friends scattered across the Soviet –to different friends at different times to save his work. This way he built up a huge, gigantic work – published later in three tomes from Paris.

He was an extra-ordinary dissident. He had amazing guts. He was a real writer.

If not for anything else, Solzhenitsyn would be remembered for this work alone.


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn: The Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970

1 comment:

Hawk eye said...

‘Gulag Archipelago’is not only a book in where Solzhenitsyn narrated all historical and legal chronology with all minute details of the Soviet Concentration camp and forced labour system from 1818 to 1956 but it also for the first time let open the view of a systemic fault of Soviet political culture. This was believed to be an inevitable outcome of Bolshevik politcal project. Since the USSR’s demise in the year 1989 it became quite prevalent to the socity of informed writers and scholars that Lenin was the theoretical and practical origins of the concentration camp system.

To its narrative part Solzhenitsyn takes the typical course of a zek, a political prisoner focussing on almost all trivia in the Gulag system. This work of Solzhenitsyn considered to a multi-layered, rhythmic and precise prose art with a tinge of sarcastic, ironic and probably the darkest gallows humour ever written.

Thanks Mr. Bose for bringing back the memories of the masterpiece that keeps on telling the truth in its unique way that could only be narrated by the master himself.


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