Alexander Solzhenitsyn - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Picture of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize-winning historian and author of Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, and The Gulag Archipelago (First Circle, Cancer Ward); twentieth century Russian Literature
Photograph: Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
(1918 - )

Category:  Russian Literature
Born: 1918
Kislovodsk, Russia
Related authors:
Boris Pasternak, Osip Mandelstam
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Alexander Solzhenitsyn - LIFE STORIES
10/8/1970     Gulag Payback
On this day in 1970, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize. In his memoirs, Solzhenitsyn describes his failed attempt to use his Nobel as a knock-out blow to Soviet repression. "During my time in the camps," he writes, "I had got to know the enemies of the human race quite well: they respect the big fist and nothing else; the harder you slug them, the safer you will be."
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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The Cancer Ward
The First Circle
The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956
The Oak and the Calf
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Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life
by D.M. Thomas
The Oak and the Calf
by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Read by Richard Brown
audio cassette
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Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature
Solzhenitsyn was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature." Visit the official Nobel website for a brief author autobiography, Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture and Diploma, and other resources.
An Interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The author discusses the importance of religion, philosophy and spirituality to his works, delivers a sharp critique of post-socialist Russian government and society, and talks about selfishness and the evils of capitalism.

"A return to the forms of religion which perhaps existed a couple of centuries ago is absolutely impossible. On the contrary, in order to combat modern materialistic mores, as religion must, to fight nihilism and egotism, religion must also develop, must be flexible in its forms, and it must have a correlation with the cultural forms of the epoch. Religion always remains higher than everyday life. In order to make the elevation towards religion easier for people, religion must be able to alter its forms in relation to the consciousness of modern man."
BBC Books
A bibliography examines the author's education and background, early troubles, his arrest, imprisonment and exile, the literary successes, and current reputation. The reflections of BBC broadcaster Michael Charlton are also provided in audio format, from an interview aired on The Westminster Hour.

"In 1991, the political climate in Russia changed and, in 1994, Solzhenitsyn returned to his native land. On arrival he denounced Vladimir Zhirinovsky as a xenophobic nationalist and spoke scathingly of the new class of cut-throat businessmen 'who thieve our national wealth" whilst others were dying of poverty.' The changes in Russia, however, had affected his reputation. One Moscow critic wrote 'Everyone knows his name, but no one reads his books.' In October 1994, he addressed the Duma, but his speech left most deputies unmoved."
This online lesson plan for One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich provides a background to the novel, an overview of characters, plot synopsis, quotes, study questions, guide to characters, notes on language and vocabulary, suggested classrom activities and topics for discussion on plot, characterization and theme, and an extended bibliography of suggested fiction and critical reading. A useful resource for teachers.

"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. Solzhenitsyn provides his readers with a seemingly hopeless situation, and then gives them characters who struggle fiercely to maintain their individuality. Students will come away from this novel with a confidence in the possibility of success despite a cruel environment."
The New York Times
Find reviews of The First Circle, Cancer Ward, Stories and Prose Poems, and other works. Also offers articles from the newspaper on the author's work, and his political and personal struggles.

"The Russian novel has always been packed with dogma, assertion, politics and ideology. It has always hovered on the verges of utopianism, of 'What then must be done?' So, far from being a querulous eccentric, Solzhenitsyn is firmly situated in its mainstream."
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March 17, 2018
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