Monday, August 04, 2008

a hero falls

"Eddie Willers" of Adventures Of A Third World Shopkeeper points out the passing of one of the 20th Century's heroes: Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn.

I remember first reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich while I was in the Air Force. I had been impressed by Witness, but Solzhenitsyn spoke directly to me in the simple language of freedom. I devoured the rest of his then-published books and waited for each new book. He helped me realized why I had picked the winning side in defeating the greatest evil the world had yet seen.

His death strikes me as a bit anticlimactic. He saw the demise of the system that had enslaved his countrymen, but he never did see the moral world he has imagined in its place. Like Tolstoy, he was a prophet -- doomed to see only part of a better world.

Dead at 89. RIP.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post. He was one of my heroes, too. In fact, I voted for Carter rather than Ford after Ford banned him from the White House. That was a mistake, but I do not regret my reason.

Alice B.

Alan said...

I have all of his books, I believe, and especially appreciated his book Solzhenitsyn at Harvard, which included the address, 12 early responses and six later reflections. From the address "A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today...Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end?" I read the paper daily and have not seen or heard of his passing. Perhaps he ruffled too many feathers while living in New England to get at least an obit. A Day in the Life... was a classic!

islagringo said...

I read the Gulag Archepeligo (sic) while in my 20s in the Army. Strong stuff for a young boy to digest! I thought that in recent years he had had his citizenship restored and moved back to Russia, where he was declared a hero. In fact, I think that is where he died.

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- Even though he was allowed to return to Russia, the country never measured up to his dream.

Al -- Like you, I have been surprised at the cursory coverage of his death. If he had been Brad Pitt's son -- then that would be news.

Alice -- We all make mistakes.