Alexander Solzhenitsyn is dead at 89
Above, Mr. Solzhenitsyn working at Stanford in 1976.
See the article in today’s New York Times by Michael T. Kaufman, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dies at 89.
This great man’s great life deceived us all at the end, why? He seemed to only be able to identify what was wrong in the society about him. When the big correction was made, when the Soviet Union collapsed, in no small part due to his own efforts, he seemed totally unable to identify and build on what was right.
Instead, Solzhenitsyn immediately turned his sharp and unforgiving gaze onto first the Godless Western world, where he was living in exile, and then onto the new Russia to which he had returned, and where he identified only crass materialism and physical pleasure seeking. Oligarchs and the lives they represented, those of Russia as well as those of the West, were now the principal target of his wrath and scorn.
And he didn’t stray from this hardline position during the 14 years, dating from his return to Russia in 1994 until his death today. With the fall of the Soviet Union Solzhenitsyn’s own greatness seemed to have deserted him, leaving quite an empty shell behind, one totally without its former heroic occupant. And nothing remarkable, nothing real and human ever took its place.
David Remmick knew Solzhenitsyn well during the Soviet years when the writer was making history. According to George F. Kennan,
the American diplomat, this Solzhenitsyn’s book, The Gulag Archipelago, which led to his expulsion from his native land, was “the greatest and most powerful
single indictment of a political regime ever to be leveled in modern
Remmick also knew Solzhenitsyn during his obscurity, and visited him near the end of his life. Remmick cites Solzhenitsyn’s prose poem, “Growing Old,” and quotes the writer as having told him, “I’m not working with the old speed. In the evening I feel tired and go to bed fairly early. In the morning, I feel strong, but this strength doesn’t last as long as it used to.”
This is the Solzhenitsyn that the public never new. Too bad. There is so much that he could have told us. So much other than what was wrong with first his world then ours. He could have written more about that strength he felt, even as an old man, in the morning hours. And he could have written about his own family, his wife and children, evidently a remarkable family in its own right. From his books we don’t know that he was a man like all of us. And that is our loss.Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized