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From a newly-translated memoir, excerpted in the Wall Street Journal, from his new home in Vermont:
But the Lord also sustained me in another way, in the fact that, even though living in the West, I did not have to rush from pillar to post to survive, which would have been exhausting and degrading in an alien milieu: I didn’t need to look for money to live on. And so I never took an interest in whether my books would be to the taste of a Western readership, whether they’d “sell.” In the USSR, I’d been accustomed to earning almost nothing but spending almost nothing as well. Alas, in the West, that wasn’t possible, especially with a family.
I didn’t immediately understand how immense was the gift of material well-being bestowed on me: It meant total independence. I found myself unhindered and alone with the work I’d now found my way to. I was writing books-without having to worry about anything else. Independence! It’s broader in scope and more effective than freedom alone. Without it, I could not have fulfilled my task. But this way, Western life has flowed past me, to one side, having no effect on the rhythm of my work. And the only irretrievable loss of time has been due to our homeland’s irretrievable lapse into exhaustion.
But as for me, I seem to have no sense of the passage of time: I’ve now already spent over 2,000 days following the same regimen, always in profound tranquillity-something I’d feverishly dreamed of throughout my Soviet life. There’s no telephone in the house where I work, no television, I’m always in fresh air (following the Swiss custom, the bedroom windows are kept open, even in freezing weather), living on healthy American provincial food, never once having been to the doctor for anything serious, plunging into the icy pond at the age of 63.
How wonderful it would be if our pampered snowflake children could learn the lesson of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.Published in