Monday, August 11, 2008

Harrison, William. "The Other Solzhenitsyn." GUARDIAN August 4, 2008.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's anti-Sovietism was heroic and influential, but its other side became clearer upon the Union's collapse. The death of the literary colossus and anti-Soviet dissident has, quite rightly, been greeted with an outpouring of praise for his principled and brave unmasking of the horrors of the Soviet regime. His literary achievements, closely connected with his dissident activities, have also justifiably received much attention. But there is another side to Solzhenitsyn – one which most obituaries have mentioned only in passing, if at all. Solzhenitsyn's analysis of Soviet communism was based on the notion that the Bolsheviks imposed a totalitarian system on Russia that had no basis in Russian history or character. He laid the blame on Marx and Engels and the Bolsheviks. Russian culture, he argued, and particularly that of the Russian Orthodox Church, was suppressed in favour of atheist Soviet culture. Persona non grata in the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn lived in exile in the US from 1974, but found western culture equally to his distaste. His historical writing is imbued with a hankering after an idealized Tsarist era when, seemingly, everything was rosy. He sought refuge in a dreamy past, where, he believed, a united Slavic state (the Russian empire) built on Orthodox foundations had provided an ideological alternative to western individualistic liberalism. . . . Read the rest here:

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