Alexander Solzhenitsyn is not one to play it safe. The eminent Russian author has shown an uncommon heroism in his battle against Soviet oppression. He has stood his ground fully aware that at any moment his voice could be stilled. The threat of another long imprisonment such as he experienced under Stalin does not intimidate him.

Solzhenitsyn was named to receive the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature, but the award has never been officially bestowed. He has refused to go to Stockholm to pick it up because he doubts that Soviet authorities would let him return. The author of The First Circle, The Cancer Ward, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich thus shuns a comfortable platform for his prophetic utterings. He knows he can speak more meaningfully from within the Soviet Union even though his literary masterpieces cannot be published there. And he also is saying that to forsake his own land for the security and liberty of the free world, which offers greater opportunity for personal fulfillment, would cost him the loss of immediate identification with the plight of his countrymen.

Solzhenitsyn was to have received his prize last month in a private ceremony in Moscow. But the event was called off, or at least delayed, when the Soviet government refused a visa to the secretary of the Swedish Royal Academy, who was to present the award.

The Kremlin’s action seems to be a direct reprisal for Solzhenitsyn’s “Lenten Letter,” which, circulated secretly in Moscow, reached the hands of Western newsmen and made headlines around the world. In the letter the author reproaches the Russian Orthodox Church for its subservience to the state. “A church dictatorially directed by atheists is a spectacle that has not been seen for 2,000 years,” ...

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