Tag: Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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We continue our small reading group of Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, vol. 1, to help us understand what is happening today. You can read the original post: The Gulag Archipelago, V. 1: Ch. 1&2. For the next two weeks (October 1-15), we continue with Chapter 7, “In the Engine Room,” Chapter 8, “The Law as […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard talk with Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a pianist, conductor laureate of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, principal guest conductor of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, and son of the Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. They discuss his father’s legacy, his courageous work to debunk the Soviet Union’s utopian myths, and key lessons American educators and students should draw from his life, writings, and battle with Soviet communism. They also explore his warning to Western democracies in his historic “A World Split Apart” Harvard Commencement speech, about their own crippling “short-sightedness,” “loss of will,” and crisis of spirit. Ignat describes his family’s 20-year exile in rural Vermont, recounted in his father’s newly released memoir, Between Two Millstones, Book 2, in which Solzhenitsyn expounds on the vital importance of local self-government, the rule of law, liberty, and what he called “self-limitation.” Ignat describes the education he and his brothers received at home, his own impression of the strengths and weaknesses of American education, and what inspired him to become a classical musician and conductor. He concludes with a reading from one of his father’s works.

Related: 2018 op-ed by Jamie Gass: “As we mark 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth, we appreciate importance of historical literacy

Quote of the Day: Solzhenitsyn on Freedom

 

“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

As others on Ricochet have noted, today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. As it is my turn to provide a quote of the day, I thought it appropriate to draw on his fund of wisdom for today’s quote.

On Finishing The Gulag Archipelago

 

Earlier today I finished the final volume of The Gulag Archipelago. Whereas Mark Twain defines a work of great literature as “Something that everyone wants to have read but no one wants to read,” I still think I’d like to re-read this one. There’s very little I can do for the multitudes processed through the Soviet prison camps, but I can bear witness. To that and to the camps that are still maintained in North Korea, Cuba, and other dictatorships around the world.

Even if there weren’t such camps in existence today I’m far too pessimistic to believe “never again.” If anything, I hope to be the one in the camp rather than the one running it. To that end, here are some lessons I learned from the book to help survive the Gulag.