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Solzhenitsyn in his own words

Quotations from Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who has died at the age of 89 near Moscow.

EXTRACT FROM ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

Please note: this is the final passage of the book

Shukhov felt pleased with life as he went to sleep. A lot of good things had happened that day. He hadn't been thrown in the hole. The gang hadn't been dragged off to Sotsgorodok [settlement]. He'd swiped the extra gruel at dinnertime. The foreman had got a good rate for the job. He'd enjoyed working on the wall. He hadn't been caught with the blade at the searchpoint. He'd earned a bit from Tsezar that evening. And he'd bought his tobacco.

The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one.

Just one of the three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days of his sentence, from bell to bell.

The extra three were for leap years.

CRISIS OF WESTERN CIVILISATION

People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert...

It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defence against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror.

It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organised legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

extract from his speech at Harvard University, 1978

WHY I WRITE

I can't say that I wrote my books in order to open the eyes of the West to what had been going on in the East. Above all, I wrote all my books for the benefit of my own people, for the Russians, because [we] ourselves don't know our own history.

It's not just the West that doesn't know our history; we ourselves have lost it. Recent events, both pre- and post-Revolutionary, have been wiped out. The documents have been burnt, the witnesses killed. So I have been working to reconstruct the truth, all the truth about my own country, and this is what I have done primarily for our own people's benefit.

speaking to the BBC in 1974

RUSSIA AFTER COMMUNISM

I never doubted that communism was doomed to collapse, but I was always afraid of how Russia would emerge from that communism and at what price. I know I am coming back to a worn-out, discouraged, shell-shocked, Russia which has changed beyond recognition and is wandering about in search of itself.

from a speech in Vladivostok on his return to Russia from exile in 1994

VLADIMIR PUTIN'S RUSSIA

The main achievement is that Russia has revived its influence in the world.

But morally we are too far from what is needed. This cannot be achieved by the state, through parliamentarianism...

As far as the state, the public mind and the economy is concerned, Russia is still far away from the country of which I dreamed.

his last TV interview, 2007


SEE ALSO
Solzhenitsyn warns of Nato plot
28 Apr 06 |  Europe
Putin meets Solzhenitsyn
21 Sep 00 |  Europe


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