Publication in 1962 of the novella Denisovich, an account of a day in a Gulag prisoner's life, made him a celebrity during the post-Stalin political thaw.
However, within a decade, the writer awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature was out of favour again for his work, and was being harassed by the KGB secret police.
In 1973, the first of the three volumes of Archipelago, a detailed account of the systematic Soviet abuses from 1918 to 1956 in the vast network of its prison and labour camps, was published in the West.
Its publication sparked a furious backlash in the Soviet press, which denounced him as a traitor.
Early in 1974, the Soviet authorities stripped him of his citizenship and expelled him from the country.
A look at the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn
He settled in Vermont, in the US, where he completed the other two volumes of Archipelago.
While living there as a recluse, he railed against what he saw as the moral corruption of the West.
Scathing of Boris Yeltsin's brand of democracy, he did not return to Russia immediately upon the collapse of the USSR in 1992, unlike other exiles.
It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations
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