"Reading Solzhenitsyn": Lyndon State College to Host Conference in September


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. 

View more details (.PDF)

Class on Solzhenitsyn's Fiction to Be Taught at University of Vermont During Fall 2018 Semester

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."




March 1917, Book 1:2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist


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.

Histories tend to collapse events into a single narrative; Solzhenitsyn insists on plurality. He explodes the Russian Revolution back into myriad voices and parts, disarrayed and chaotic, detailed and tumultuous. Combining historical research with newspaper headlines, street action, cinematic screenplay, and fictional characterization, the book is as immersive as binge-worthy television, no little thanks to this excellent translation that renders its prose as masterful in English as it was in Russian.
— Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, November/December 2017




"A Witness and Prophet for History": A March 1917 Review

A review of March 1917, Book 1 by Lee Trepanier was recently published at VoegelinView.

Although it too can be distorted, literature has the unique capacity to persuade us of its truth when our own experience of life confirms it: it “bears within itself its own verification.”... March 1917 accomplishes this feat by concretely portraying the chaos, confusion, and tumult of the February Revolution. Solzhenitsyn’s depiction of the bread riots is an example where literature can portray more accurately–and more beautifully–than a historical analysis.

Solzhenitsyn Historian to Speak At The Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow 

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"."






Solzhenitsyn at 100: Upcoming Exhibit and Talk in Montpelier

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The opening of a new exhibition, "Solzhenitsyn at 100: Celebrating the Life and Work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Honor of his 100th Birthday", will take place on Saturday, May 19th at the Vermont Historical Society Museum in Montpelier. The exhibit, which will run through the summer, outlines the writer's life with a focus on the twenty years that he and his family called Vermont home (1975-1994). 

Prior to the exhibit's official opening, on Thursday, May 17th, University of Vermont Professor Kevin J. McKenna will be the guest speaker at a luncheon hosted by the museum. His talk is entitled, "No Man Is a Prophet in His Own Land’: Russia’s Loss Has Been Vermont’s Gain.” 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; coffee & water will be provided. Organizers welcome attendees to bring lunch to eat while listening.

Attendees will have a chance to view the Solzhenitsyn exhibit, which officially opens Saturday, May 19th. 

Natalia Solzhenitsyn in Figaro

   Le Figaro : Joel Saget/AFP

Le Figaro: Joel Saget/AFP

Natalia Solzhenitsyn, the author's widow, who was in Paris for the Paris Book Fair, has given an extended interview to Le Figaro.  Read the English translation here, or the original here.  Mrs. Solzhenitsyn talks about her life with the author, his love of France, his work on the Russian Revolution, and the current state of relations between Russia and the West.

Russia is going through a period that no other country has ever been through. It needs help, but not dictatorial and condescending help, as the United States has been doing with the IMF. The great mistake of the U.S. was to think that it had won the Cold War and that Russia would no longer be a player. A catastrophic approach! Because when pressured Russia bounces back like a spring. It felt humiliated, encircled. Much of the support for Putin can be explained by this feeling of humiliation. [One can] be firm with Russia, but issuing ultimatums is totally counterproductive.

Vermont General Assembly Passes Resolution Recognizing Solzhenitsyn

On March 21st, the Vermont General Assembly passed a resolution in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's honor. Ignat Solzhenitsyn and representatives of Cavendish, Vermont were on hand in Montpelier to be presented with official copies of Resolution HCR-199.

No. R-248. House concurrent resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Russian author, historian, and former Cavendish resident Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn.
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March 1917 JACKET Cover Design Recognized with Design Award

2018 Book, Jacket, & Journal Show from Association of University Presses

March 1917: The Red Wheel, Node III, Book 1 was selected by the Association of University Presses for the 2018 Book, Jacket, and Journal Show. Jeff Miller, a designer with Faceout Studio, and Wendy McMillen, production and design manager of the University of Notre Dame Press, collaborated on the design. The design was one of 53 chosen from a total of 375 submissions. The show is held each year to celebrate the year's best work in design and production in university presses. The show will be exhibited across the U.S. from June 2018 to May 2019; the first show opens June 17th in San Francisco during the 2018 AUPresses Annual Meeting

Since 1965, the Association of University Presses has held the Book, Jacket, and Journal Show each year to highlight achievements in design and production in university presses. The winning books and journals for 2018, selected by jurors in New York City, will be displayed in the annual catalog and the traveling show, which premiers in San Francisco on June 17, and continues throughout North America until May 2019.  

"What Men Live By": Paper Presented at the Annual AATSEEL Meeting

This year's annual meeting of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AAATSEEL) took place on February 3rd in Washington, D.C, where Professor Kevin McKenna of University of Vermont presented a lecture entitled, “‘What Men Live By’: Leo Tolstoy’s Proverb-Parable As a Source for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Novel, Cancer Ward.”

McKenna's paper will be published at a later date.


Winner of Solzhenitsyn Monument Design Competition Announced

On 17 January, the Union of Moscow Architects announced the project winner, Andrei Nikolaevich Kovalchuk, selected by their jury from a Russia-wide field of design projects competing to build the new Solzhenitsyn monument on ul. Solzhenitsyna (Solzhenitsyn Street) in Moscow in connection with the writer’s upcoming centennnial. 

  The Winning Design   solzhenitsyn.ru

The Winning Design

Claremont Review of Books: MARCH 1917, BOOK 1

Guy Burnett reviews March 1917, Book 1 in tandem with Catherine Merridale's Lenin on the Train.

There was no shortage of blame, but Solzhenitsyn shows how the most dangerous blunders leading up to October 1917 were the Czar’s. He presents Nicholas II as a naïve but devoted family man, a great neighbor but poor leader, whose faith in the protestors was his undoing.

The Quarterly Conversation: March 1917, Book 1

The novelist Jeff Bursey reviews March 1917, Book 1, suggesting that it is very much a modernist novel, even as History herself emerges as a "skillfully drawn character in this portrait of Russia on the eve of its transformation".

What we have, so far, of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s mega-novel The Red Wheel is correspondingly inventive, despairing, sharp, acidic, lyrical, and panoramic, with shafts of insight illuminating murky or forgotten corners.
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Will Morrisey Review of March 1917, Book 1

A probing review of March 1917, Book 1posted today.

Solzhenitsyn has made this mob of characters and passions, this kinesis of revolution, intelligible. For this his work deserves to be read not only in Russia but everywhere. The thoughts of the characters, their understandable confusion, their elation or despair, come through without any resort to moral relativism. In scenes that parallel one another, Solzhenitsyn gives us mind after mind, capturing the insights but also the illusions of each. When he intervenes in his own voice he speaks not with narrative omniscience, which he leaves to God, but with narrative judgment, which as a Christian he shares a bit with God, thanks to God.

Daniel J. Mahoney Reviews March 1917, Book 1

Insightful review of March 1917, Book 1 from renowned Solzhenitsyn scholar Daniel J. Mahoney in the new issue of National Review.  

This volume consists of 170 chapters (out of 656 in March 1917 as a whole), most of them relatively brief. One experiences on every page the frenzied pace of events spiraling completely out of control.

Russian Memorial to Victims of Political Repression Unveiled In Moscow

As reported by Digital Journal, The Solzhenitsyn Foundation and the Memorial organization have partnered in backing the creation of a new monument by sculptor Georgy Frangulyan, which was unveiled as a part of a memorial for Soviet-era victims of political repression in Central Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at the memorial's dedication and quoted Natalia Solzhenitsyn in his remarks. 

To know, to remember, to condemn and only then to forgive.
— Natalya Solzhenitsyn
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University of Notre Dame Press Establishes New Solzhenitsyn Series

The University of Note Dame Press has announced a major new Solzhenitsyn series, called The Center for Ethics and Culture Solzhenitsyn Series. March 1917: Red Wheel, Node III, Book 1, the first book in this series, will be published later this month.  It is the continuation of Solzhenitsyn's epic Red Wheel novel, which begins with August 1914, then November 1916, and now March 1917.