Monday, August 18, 2008

Solzhenitsyn is dead

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian dissident and author.  1918-2008.  Stalin couldn't kill him.  The Russian Gulags didn't end him.  Cancer had no hold on him.  But time finally caught up with him.

I remember reading the Gulag Archipelago in my early 20s.  It was a daunting book (and that was just volume 1) but I couldn’t put it down at times.  The sheer disregard for humanity and justice during the Stalin years is just breathtaking.  Comparisons to things like Guantanamo as the American "gulag" fall about as short as trying to compare Bush to Hitler or Stalin.  You may not like his policies, but you're belittling what Hitler was and what he tried to do.   It's like comparing the kid who stole a pack of bubble gum to the guy who broke down the door, shot the store keeper and emptied the cash register.  If you need some perspective, read the book.

1 comment:

Willie said...

His fiction is fantastic. Two books worth reading one after the other are: "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" (a short story) and a much longer one "The First Circle".

That title "The First Circle" is making reference to the outermost circle of hell from Dante's Inferno. It's just past the gates of hell, not the deepest part of hell. Solzhenitsyn used this image to show the Soviet prison system right at the edge of their hell. Whereas the "One Day" book is about the Soviet prison in deepest hell. The "One Day" book a believer as one of the characters.