Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)

Being on the road, I haven't been keeping up with the news, and I just found out that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has died.

What a loss. This guy was a real writer, not afraid to risk years in a gulag for speaking his mind. I'd like to say that if I was living in the Soviet Union at that time, I wouldn't be afraid to write what I thought, but it's impossible to say without actually being faced with the situation.

Like everyone else, I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in school, and it was one of the few required books that stuck in my mind and compelled me to read it again when I was older. (The other was 1984) I also liked his August 1914, one of the best war books ever written, despite, or perhaps because, there is very little fighting in it.

Schools are beginning to drift away from assigning modern classics in favor of contemporary "relevant" authors. While this isn't entirely a bad thing, Solzhenitsyn's work will always be relevant as long as there are thuggish governments like the old Soviet Union. He wasn't too happy about Western commercialism either, but I suspect they won't assign any of his essays on that in school.

Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons and is copyright free

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