Solzhenitsyn is a very controversial figure in Russia: opinions range from complete approval to active rejection.

“… teachers also behaved with an eye on the Alex’s nervousness.

This eventually created in him some belief in the infallibility of his personality, certain feeling of exclusivity. “

Kirill Simonyan / From the book by Natalia Reshetovskaya (Solzhenitsyn’s first wife)

Originally nothing really separated Solzhenitsyn among others, only some religiousness. But even that led only to ridicule, which quickly stopped because of extreme nervousness of Solzhenitsyn. Soon Solzhenitsyn joined the Komsomol. Next he was admitted to the Department of Physics and of the University. No literature.

The Beginning of a Man-Made Myth or Just Stupidity?

World War II reached the USSR. Solzhenitsyn was called up for military service in convoy. He applied to courses for officers and left the front for a year. When he returned he served in sound intelligence –when at a large distance you try to determine the location of enemy artillery by cannonade, without seeing it. However, in his correspondence towards the end of the war, in spite of military censorship that read all the letters, he spoke disrespectfully about Stalin, which led to his arrest. Activity of military censorship was not a secret and was even publicized. The question arises – why?


In prison Solzhenitsyn gets to “sharashka” and worked there as a mathematician until 1950. “Sharashka” were research institutions established in prisons by highly educated political prisoners (in spite of the repressionstowards disagreeable citizens, the Stalinist regime was not ready to lose valuable talents).

After the conflict with his superiors, Solzhenitsyn until his release in 1953 was serving his term in a special camp in Kazakhstan (the specialty of the camp was construction). Later it was reflected in his short story “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” Before his rehabilitation in 1956-1957, Solzhenitsyn was sent into exile, where it was found that he had cancer, which was cured. This period is described in his work “Cancer Ward.”

A Publicist or a Writer


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn / Verhoeff, Bert / Anefo

In 1959 Solzhenitsyn wrote the story “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, which due to active promotion by Alexander Tvardovsky in 1962 was published in the journal “New World”. The Secretary-General of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev gave personal permission to Alexander Tvardovsky to publish the story. For the first time in the Soviet press there was published a piece that spoke about the life in the camp. The story causes a great response of letters, which later became the basis of Solzhenitsyn work “The Gulag Archipelago.”

Before 1963, Solzhenitsyn had time to publish several short stories and selected chapters from “The Gulag Archipelago.”

However, since then, all editorial doors in the USSR for Solzhenitsyn got closed.

Starting in 1966, Solzhenitsyn began openly criticizing the Soviet regime.

In 1967 Solzhenitsyn sent an open letter to the 4thCongress of the Soviet Writers’ Union, in which he called to abandon censorship that was destroying Russian literature.

See also:

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: the Nobel Prize, deportation and a triumphant return


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