Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Russian Prophet

Belatedly we acknowledge the passing of Alexander Solzhenitsyn by adding his masterful novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to the SWNID Fiction Club. This disturbing, hopeful narrative of life in the gulag ought to be read by all literate people.

The great writer's insight into the human condition rivaled the great Russians Dostoyevski and Tolstoy. His courage to confront his totalitarian masters put him in an altogether different category. Both characteristics were nurtured by his robust Russian Orthodox Christian faith.

Of the tributes to Solzhenitsyn, none has surpassed the one in today's WSJ, most especially because the editors also included a most compelling excerpt from Solzhenitsyn's infamous Harvard commencement address in 1978. One could perhaps call it the opening salvo in the conservative insurrection against Western materialistic liberalism. That a man could be at once the victim of concentration camp horrors, a writer of singular prowess, a believer in the risen Christ, a mortal enemy of communism, a critic of the vacuous culture of the West, and an advocate for vigorous military action to protect the world's people from totalitarianism was at once amazing and at the same time completely logical.

1 comment:

Rob Brown said...

Thanks to SWNID for his honoring of a truly great author. I have always described Solzhenitsyn as "the poor man's Dostoevsky." Being that I'm poor and slightly prefer him to Fyodor.
You can file the last sentence of this post for the future passing of Elie Wiesel...save the resurrected Christ part. Which leads me to suggest "Night" for your reading list.