Alexander Solzhenitsyn, RIP

Monday, August 4th, 2008

His regrettable personal politics aside, you simply can’t overstate the importance of Solzhenistyn’s documentation of the horrors of Stalinism and the Soviet gulags

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8 Responses to “Alexander Solzhenitsyn, RIP”

  1. #1 |  parse | 

    you simply can’t overstate the importance of Solzhenistyn’s documentation of the horrors of Stalinism and the Soviet gulags

    I think you could pretty easily overstate it. Like “Solzhenistyn’s writing single-handedly ended the cold war and brought down the Berlin war.” That was easily enough, and such an account eclipses the contributions of David Hasselhoff.

  2. #2 |  Mit Etagniw | 

    Oh boo-frakking-hoo. He wasn’t perfect, so what? He did more to influence a generation or more toward freedom and against the state than most here. He paid his dues in loss of liberty, property and lives of those he cared about. He was a product of his society and culture and wrote from that perspective. In some form, in some fashion, we all have our own bigotry. It maybe carefully hidden or we are in denial or even have yet to discover it until someone else’s difference brings it out in us. Be careful of the standards that you judge another by. You may find those same standards applied to you by those who do not share your convenient blind spots of self.

  3. #3 |  TGGP | 

    I’ll hold on deciding whether or not he’s an anti-semite until Two Hundred Years Together gets translated into English. I guess until then we’ll have to settle for Yuri Slezkine.

  4. #4 |  perlhaqr | 

    Requiescat in Pace, Aleksandr Isayevich.

  5. #5 |  xyz123 | 

    have read that most sov gulagees thought it was *Reagan* that “single-handedly ended the cold war and brought down the wall”.

    solzhenitsyn shone the light on the cockroaches, to be sure. but they continued to run around unchecked until somebody else stomped on them. no reagan, and solzhenitsyn and pasternak are just 2 more guys the soviets don’t allow to be read. in a generation or so, there’ll be another luminary whose stories of tsar vlad sell well and garner prizes while being ignored by the left.

    glad to see our politicians have made such good use of a soviet-free russia.

  6. #6 |  Honeyko | 

    Are there any eulogies which don’t spend five times as much column space complaining about Solzhenitsyn’s foibles as they do Stalin’s or Soviet Russia’s?

  7. #7 |  JJH2 | 


    As far as I’m aware, most mainstream Solzhenitsyn obituaries don’t even bother to raise the issue of his apparent anti-Semitism at all. See a fairly typical example from the AP here:

    Of course, even if it was true that newspaper obits spent more time talking about the personal characteristics of the decedents themselves, rather than lampooning third parties that they criticized and which are universally reviled (I haven’t met any mainstream supports of Stalinist Russia in a while), well, so what? He’s the subject of the obit, not Stalin.

  8. #8 |  JJH2 | 


    We should all be so lucky to be reminded of our own personal bigotry. How else to overcome our “blind spots” if we cant see them ourselves? Being a “product of your culture” is no excuse for anti-semitism, racism against any group, misogyny, or support for the brutal authoritarian practices of Soviet Russia. I would like to think we live in a time where it is possible to take an honest measure of a man, virtues and vices, and let his accomplishments speak for themselves. I have no use for uncritical, fawning adulation, and I suspect, given how frequently people misplace those kinds of expectations in others with tragic results, that human kind can no longer afford it either.