Death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn – dissident and writer
Tributes have been pouring in for Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian author, former Soviet dissident and Nobel Literature prize laureate who died on Sunday aged 89.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, described the author of “The Gulag Archipelago” and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” as a man of unique destiny and said: “He was one of the first people who spoke up about the inhumanity of Stalin’s regime with a full voice, and about the people who lived through this but were not broken.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called him “one of Russia’s greatest consciences of the 20th century” and said: “His refusal to compromise, his ideals and his long and eventful life make Alexander Solzhenitsyn a romantic figure, an heir of Dostoyevsky’s.” He said Solzhenitsyn “belongs to the pantheon of world literature.”
London’s Daily Telegraph said Solzhenitsyn “was not only a great man, but a passionately committed writer – he believed it was his moral duty, in the face of systematic totalitarian obfuscation, to record Russia’s 20th-century experience for posterity.”
The Washington Post described him as “a symbol of freedom and the durability of the human spirit” whose subject matter was the struggle between good and evil in the Russian soul.
Yury Osipov, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, last year said Solzhenitsyn was “the author of works without which the history of the 20th century is unthinkable”.
Solzhenitsyn was widely read in the West and in Russia even though he did not court fame. He had admirers both for his literary work and for the contribution he made as a dissident.
How good a writer do you think Alexander Solzhenitsyn was? How important do you think his role was as a dissident and as the nation’s moral conscience?