Friday, May 13, 2011

Solzhenitsyn's Remarkable Story

In 1994, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn flew from Alaska to Magadan, the former center of the Soviet Union’s labor camp system on the Pacific coast. From there Solzhenitsyn journeyed slowly by train across the expanse of the country, taking his time and talking to ordinary people along the way. Having been an exile from his homeland for twenty years, Solzhenitsyn relished the intentionally long train journey, which gave him a chance to savor the country and reconnect with the people he loved.

During his travels Solzhenitsyn was generally well received by the Russian people. However, this was not always the case. Passing through Siberia, he was met with an angry Russian who shouted, “It is you and your writing that started it all!” The man was, of course, referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the system of communism it had birthed in Russia. As this hostile comment suggests, the people of Russia did not all agree that the fall of communism had been a good thing for Russia. But they did agree that the writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had been instrumental in communism’s collapse.
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