BBC Russian Service on Solzhenitsyn's Centennial

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Chloe Arnold of the BBC Russian Service interviews Richard Tempest, Alexander Strokanov and Margo Caulfield for a story on Solzhenitsyn's centennial.

“Солженицын - прекрасный пример того, как можно ненавидеть коммунизм, ужасно относиться к СССР, но в то же время любить Россию, быть русским патриотом. Те, кто положительно относится к коммунизму, не могут принять его, потому что Солженицын - антисоветский писатель. Пожалуй, самый заметный и сильный среди всех антикоммунистических писателей. Живущие ностальгией по советскому прошлому воспринимают его сложно. Но те, кто не связывают Россию и СССР в целое, кто критически или объективно относятся к коммунизму, они понимают ценность Солженицына. И, думаю, что его ценность только растет”, - считает Строканов.

At long last, the complete "Trilogy" available to stream with English subtitles!

We have heard you, our patient (but demanding!) readers, and are delighted to present to you today, on Solzhenitsyn’s 100th birthday, newly uploaded versions of the complete Trilogy of films about Solzhenitsyn by Sergei Miroshnichenko. All of these come with excellent English subtitles. Happy watching!

New York Times: The Writer Who Destroyed an Empire

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Michael Scammell’s op-ed piece in today’s New York Times.

Solzhenitsyn should be remembered for his role as a truth-teller. He risked his all to drive a stake through the heart of Soviet communism and did more than any other single human being to undermine its credibility and bring the Soviet state to its knees.
— New York Times


At a ceremony today on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Street in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a new monument of Solzhenitsyn. (Scroll down for video.)

11 December 2018. Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the new Moscow monument to Solzhenitsyn.

11 December 2018. Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the new Moscow monument to Solzhenitsyn.

Aleksandr Isayevich believed that, without understanding our country’s past, there could be no sensible path toward its future. And so he trained his thought and words onto her future, in an attempt to identify possible ways of rebuilding Russia, so that the dramatic and profoundly difficult trials that fell to her would never again repeat, so that our multinational people could live in dignity and justice. That is how he saw his mission, his goal, the point of his service.
— Vladimir Putin, 11 December 2018

A "Centennial Tribute" by Daniel J. Mahoney

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City Journal has posted a centennial tribute by Dan Mahoney to Solzhenitsyn and his thought.

Solzhenitsyn spoke in the name of an older Western and Christian civilization, still connected to the “deep reserves of mercy and sacrifice” at the heart of ordered liberty. It is a mark of the erosion of that rich tradition that its voice is so hard to hear in our late modern world, more—and more single-mindedly—devoted to what Solzhenitsyn called “anthropocentricity,” an incoherent and self-destructive atheistic humanism. Solzhenitsyn asks no special privileges for biblical religion (and classical philosophy), just a place at the table and a serious consideration within our souls.
— Daniel J. Mahoney

Crisis Magazine on Solzhenitsyn and patriotism

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An interesting reflection on Solzhenitsyn and patriotism in Crisis Magazine.

In Russia In Collapse, for instance, Solzhenitsyn explicitly defines patriotism not in reference to any political theory, ancient or modern, but rather characterizes it as “an integral and persistent feeling of love for one’s homeland,” and goes so far as to make the following analogy:

Love for one’s people is as natural as love for one’s family. No one can be faulted for this love, only respected. After all, no matter how much the modern world whirls and jerks about, we still aim to keep intact our family, and we hold it in special regard, suffused with sympathy. A nation is a family, too, except an order of magnitude higher in numbers. It is bound by unique internal ties: a common language, a common cultural tradition, a shared historical memory, and a shared set of problems to resolve in the future.

New Yorker notice of Between Two Millstones, Book 1

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The New Yorkerbriefly noted” the publication of Between Two Millstones, Book 1.

In 1974, Solzhenitsyn, the novelist, dissident, and former political prisoner, was deported from the Soviet Union and stripped of his citizenship. In that moment, he was the most famous writer in the world, celebrated—and despised—for his great “literary experiment” chronicling the Gulag Archipelago and for his independence of mind. This first volume of his memoirs covers the next four years, when he lived first in Frankfurt, then in Vermont. It is distinguished mostly by Solzhenitsyn’s descriptions of the initial pain of exile, his bristling reactions to Western mores, and his search for a quiet place to finish his work and live out his life.

TLS review of Between Two Millstones, Book 1

A reflection and review by Stephen Kotkin in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) of Between Two Millstones, Book 1.

Many – perhaps most – of Solzhenitsyn’s critics viewed him as an arch-reactionary, a nineteenth-century mind in the twentieth. But in his turn away from Western universalism to nativism and traditional values, in his revolt against liberal condescension, he appears to have foreseen the twenty-first.
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Gary Saul Morson reviews Between Two Millstones, Book 1

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The eminent Russian scholar Gary Saul Morson reviews Between Two Millstones, Book 1 in the Winter 2019 issue of The American Scholar.

When Solzhenitsyn called for gradual change to democracy and observed that “it is not authoritarianism that is intolerable, but . . . arbitrariness and illegality,” Western journalists gasped. When he castigated the shallowness of reporters, they accused him of opposing a free press. And when they discovered he had embraced Russian Orthodox Christianity, and hoped for a Russian spiritual rebirth, they called him a dangerous, perhaps fascist, nationalist. This charge particularly mystified Solzhenitsyn, because in his “Letter” he recommend Russia give up its domination over Eastern Europe and let the “peripheral nations” of the Soviet Union go their own way: “Let us find the strength, sense, and courage to put our own house in order before we busy ourselves with the cares of the entire planet.” What sort of nationalist calls for his country to give up its empire?
— Gary Saul Morson

A Slew of Moscow Events to Mark Solzhenitsyn Centennial

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There is a slew of upcoming events in Moscow to mark the peak of the Solzhenitsyn Centennial. Highlights include the première of a new production of the Alexander Tchaikovsky opera “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, conducted by Ignat Solzhenitsyn at the Bolshoi Theatre; the international conference “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Looking Back from the 21st Century”; and a special theatrical production starring Evgeni Mironov at the legendary Moscow Art Theatre. See here for a more comprehensive list.

Spectator review of Between Two Millstones

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“Solzhenitsyn, Russian Nobelist and noblest Russian”: The Spectator reviews Between Two Millstones, Book 1.

I don’t know if this is relevant, to use a Sixties word, to the emigres of our own scattering age, though our rulers might profit from this injunction of Solzhenitsyn’s:

‘The aims of a great empire and the moral health of the people are incompatible. We should not presume to invent international tasks and bear the cost of them so long as our people is in such moral disarray.’

The Soviets at whom he directed this were as obdurately indifferent as Bushes and Clintons to the moral health of their countrymen and the corrosive effects of empire.
— Bill Kauffman, Spectator

Cavendish to Celebrate Solzhenitsyn's Centennial on 2 December

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Cavendish's celebration of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's 100th birthday will take place on Sunday Dec. 2, 4 pm at the Cavendish Baptist Church. There will be a screening of his farewell address to Cavendish, discussion, and a potluck supper. The Cavendish Historical Society will be providing refreshments. The snow date is Dec. 9 at the same time and place. FMI: or 802-226-7807.

Ignat Solzhenitsyn: A Special evening of Music and Poetry

Ignat Solzhenitsyn, the conductor and pianist, and middle son of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, will present an intimate evening of music featured in and inspired by his father’s writings, along with excerpts from those writings, in honor of the centenary of his birth. The program includes piano works by Beethoven and Shostakovich, personal reflections, and a selection of Solzhenitsyn’s compelling poems, some of which will be heard in English for the very first time. This event takes place at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on Monday, 19 November 2018 at 7.30pm. For more details and tickets, go here.

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