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As we mark 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth, we appreciate importance of historical literacy

Dec 8, 2018 by

In this Nov. 16, 1974 photo, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gives his first news conference in the West since being expelled from Russia earlier in the year, calling for a campaign of passive resistance to Communist rule and ideology. (AP Photo/Bernhard Frye)

In this Nov. 16, 1974 photo, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gives his first news conference in the West since being expelled from Russia earlier in the year, calling for a campaign of passive resistance to Communist rule and ideology. (AP Photo/Bernhard Frye)

By Jamie Gass –

“Harvard’s motto is ‘VERITAS’…” the Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said 40 years ago in his “A World Split Apart” commencement address. “[T]ruth eludes us as soon as our concentration begins to flag, all the while leaving the illusion that we are continuing to pursue it.”

Solzhenitsyn would have turned 100 this month. His celebrated works One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) and The Gulag Archipelago (1973) demolished the Soviet Union’s utopian folklore and made him the world’s greatest literary figure during the Cold War era.

Marxist-Leninist doctrines were Solzhenitsyn’s earliest ideology, when he pursued a promising career in mathematics and physics. He then served in the Red Army and fought Nazi Germany as a decorated World War II officer, until criticizing Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in private letters doomed him.

Solzhenitsyn was quickly arrested as “an enemy of the people” and sentenced to eight years of hard labor in Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka prison. He spent three years of his punishment in a Kazakhstan gulag, where he was also treated for cancer.

All American students should know that the 20th-century communist regimes Solzhenitsyn condemned left “mountains of corpses” as their legacies.

continue: As we mark 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth, we appreciate importance of historical literacy (Guest viewpoint) | masslive.com

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