In 2018 — the centenary of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s birth and the 40th anniversary of his prophetic Harvard commencement address — the University of Notre Dame will launch several initiatives connected to the work of this novelist, critic of Communism and 1970 Nobel laureate for literature. Through his writing on the system of forced labor camps in the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn brought worldwide awareness to the devastating core of totalitarianism.
The University’s plans include the acquisition and first English translations of Solzhenitsyn works, as well as major academic conferences and postdoctoral fellowships that will connect researchers from around the world to the manuscript and print collections held by the Hesburgh Libraries — which are among the most extensive holdings in the United States related to the life and work of Solzhenitsyn.
Today marks exactly 40 years to the day that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn delivered his famous Harvard address. In Chapter 4 of his memoirs of the West, Between Two Millstones—forthcoming in English this October—Solzhenitsyn reflects on the controversy spawned by his speech. Those reflections are excerpted in the new issue of National Review.
Learn more about the forthcoming English publication of BETWEEN TWO MILLSTONES, Book 1: Sketches of Exile.
Kevin McKenna presented a lecture on Solzhenitsyn yesterday at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier.
Margot Caulfield, director of the Cavendish Historical Society and author of the young adult biography of Solzhenitsyn, The Writer Who Changed History, joins Vermont Edition to discuss the author's time in Cavendish.
Plus, Kevin McKenna, a Russian language and literature professor at the University of Vermont, discusses his research into the Russian writer and his path to fame, exile, and eventual return to his home country.
The University of Notre Dame Press has announced the long-awaited English publication of BETWEEN TWO MILLSTONES, Book 1: Sketches of Exile—Solzhenitsyn’s memoirs of the West. Book 1, covering the years 1974-1978, will appear in October in a first English translation by Peter Constantine. Book 2, covering 1978-1994, is slated for release in autumn 2019.
Open to the public, this event will occur in conjunction with the opening of a photo exhibit devoted to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the time he spent living in Vermont (1975-1994). McKenna will present a general introduction to Solzhenitsyn and his life in Cavendish, as well as what his presence in Vermont meant for Vermonters.
This is the Vermont History Museum's "Third Thursday Talk" for May. The presentation will begin at 12:00pm.
Attendees will have a chance to view the Solzhenitsyn exhibit, which officially opens Saturday, 19 May.
Solzhenitsyn appreciated the privacy that settling in the woods of rural Vermont afforded him. On Vermont Public Radio, Mary McCallum ponders if that level of privacy would be possible in this 24/7 online era.
From September 6-9, 2018, the Institute of Russian Language, History, and Culture of Lyndon State College and Northern Vermont University will host a conference welcoming Solzhenitsyn researchers, including members of the academic community, writers, and museum officers. This International Scientific Conference is titled "Reading Solzhenitsyn" and it seeks to commemorate the contributions of the author, who would have turned 100 this year.
The official languages of the conference will be English and Russian. Presented papers will be included in a book to be published after the conference. The organizing committee is accepting applications currently.
Professor Kevin J. McKenna, a professor in the Department of German and Russian at the University of Vermont, plans to teach a semester-long course devoted to the fiction writing of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
The course description, provided by the department:
"Often compared both to Fyodor Dostoevsky as well as Leo Tolstoy, the fiction of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. His works remain to this day so central to Russian literary culture that in 2006 Russian national television named them, along with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, as the major national literary achievements in Russian fiction. In 2011, Time Magazine described Solzhenitsyn’s literary works as the main artistic achievements of the 20th century. To this day Solzhenitsyn’s writings are credited with exposing and “bringing down” the Soviet Union.
The primary goal of this World Lit. 018/118 course will be to derive an understanding of the interplay between 20th-century history, society, and art as depicted in the fictional universe of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novels, Cancer Ward) and In the First Circle). Closely related in theme, style and substance to the novels, his short story “Matryona’s House” and novella One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich will complete the reading list for this course. At all points of contact with Solzhenitsyn’s fiction one cannot help but pose one of Tolstoy’s original questions: “By what do we [humans] live/ Чем мы живём” and the 20th-century Soviet-era correlation “how does one survive with his/her conscience intact?” To better understand why a literary giant like Solzhenitsyn could not publish his fiction in his own country, this course will also consider the major philosophical, ethical and political constructs of Soviet “socialist realism” as practiced in the USSR in the 20th century."
Foreword Reviews recently announced their 2017 Indie Finalists; they have named March 1917: The Red Wheel, Node III, Book 1 as a finalist in the History category. Foreword Reviews highlights the best of the indie book publishing industry, including independent publishers and university presses. University of Note Dame Press published Book 1 of March 1917 in November 2017 as the first volume in its ongoing The Center for Ethics and Culture Solzhenitsyn Series.
Professor Brian McKenna of University of Vermont will speak at the The Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences at a seminar their task force is hosting in Moscow on 29 May 29 at 3PM. McKenna's presentation is entitled, "No Man Is a Prophet in His Own Land: Vermont’s (USA) Centennial Observance of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Birth and Life".
From the presentation's abstract:
"December 12, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of Nobel Prize Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s birthday. Born in Kislovodsk, Russia, Solzhenitsyn late in life became a resident of Cavendish, Vermont where he and his wife (Natalia Dmitriyevna) raised their three sons over the course of 18 years. Why did this famous and brilliant Russian writer select Vermont for his new “home?” What was life like for a Russian-born writer in the verdant hills and valleys of Vermont? While Solzhenitsyn was certainly a “prophet” in his native Russia in the 1960s-1970s, why did the United States turn its “back” on their “new prophet” following his Harvard Commencement Lecture in 1978? What explains the decision of everyday Vermonters in Cavendish to refuse to abandon Solzhenitsyn following the Harvard Lecture? And in Russia itself, was its proverbial prophet abandoned upon his return to his homeland in 1994? Can, indeed, “prophets” return to their homeland, be it Russia or Vermont? And, if so, how did Russian proverbs sustain the daily life, and influence the literary works of this famous and invaluable Russian writer? To address these questions, analysis will turn to the role of proverbs in Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize Lecture, Мир спасёт красота/ "Beauty Will Save the World" as well as to his novella, Матрёнин двор/ "Matryona's Home"."