Monday, August 04, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: 1918-2008

I can't write a full biography in this case. But...

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn died at the age of 89+. He studied mathematics in Rostov, married a chemistry student, divorced, and married a mathematician. So he was pretty close to science.

As a leading Soviet dissident, he showed the reality of Gulags to the West and won the 1970 Nobel prize for literature. America - as defined by the conservatives - liked him and viewed his message as a confirmation of Reagan's strict policies against communism.

However, the "liberals" were critical of his "reactionary" preference for Russian patriotism and the Russian Orthodox religion. He also harshly criticized what he saw as the ugliness and spiritual vapidity of the dominant pop culture of the modern West, including television and rock music: "... the human soul longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits... by TV stupor and by intolerable music." He criticized consumerism, mediocracy, and the loss of traditional values.

It shouldn't be unexpected that Solzhenitsyn's relation with the "liberals" was analogous to his relation with the communists: the insulting vocabulary with words such as "reactionary" is surely not the only thing that the communists and the "liberals" (what a stupid word for freedom-haters!) share.

Also, it shouldn't be too surprising that he returned to Russia in 1990. During the last decades, he also wrote many texts revealing the overrepresentation of Jews among the revolutionaries in Russia (except for Lenin). These and other things have earned him an undeserved label of a controversial person.

RIP.

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