Guest / Limited Access /

Had Alexandr Solzhenitsyn died too young, like so many other forced laborers, the Soviet Union might still be with us. Yet many of the 89-year-old author's eulogists write as if he lived too long.

To be sure, tributes to Solzhenitsyn have reflected the enormity and diversity of his contributions. The Wall Street Journal lauded him for calling evil like it is, saying he "fortified the West with the truth and will to triumph in the Cold War." The Associated Press enthused that his accounts of the Soviet Gulag, most famously One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, "inspired millions, perhaps, with the knowledge that one person's courage and integrity could, in the end, defeat the totalitarian machinery of an empire." The New York Times painted him with vivid color. "Mr. Solzhenitsyn was heir to a morally focused and often prophetic Russian literary tradition, and he looked the part," Michael T. Kaufman wrote. "With his stern visage, lofty brow and full, Old Testament beard, he recalled Tolstoy while suggesting a modern-day Jeremiah, denouncing the evils of the Kremlin and later the mores of the West."

But like Dostoevsky before him, Solzhenitsyn is not so easy for Westerners to understand. Both renowned authors chronicled their time in brutal Russian labor camps. Yet the experience scarcely dimmed either Orthodox Christian's national pride. You might expect the great opponent of Stalin would have worried President Vladimir Putin, under whose leadership Russia has retreated from Western-style democracy. On the contrary, the AP notes that Putin revived "Solzhenitsyn's vision of Russia as a bastion of Orthodox Christianity, as a place with a unique culture and destiny."

America's love affair with the man ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedThe History We’d Prefer to Forget
The History We’d Prefer to Forget
Why we pass on pain to the next generation.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickYou Need a More Ordinary Jesus
You Need a More Ordinary Jesus
We are united with a Christ who seems not to have done much of note for most of his life.
Comments
Christianity Today
Freedom Is Not Our Goal
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

August 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.