Solzhenitsyn passes away in Moscow
mchawk | August 3, 2008 at 01:29 pmby
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News just in:
The Russian Gazeta is reporting the death of writer and Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Initial reports suggest that he died of heart-failure. He was 89.
This story has just hit the wires. I'll update as more comes in.
Breaking News, from the BBC
The author of the Gulag Archipelago and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, who returned to Russia in 1994, died of either a stroke or heart failure.
The Nobel laureate had suffered from high blood pressure in recent years.
After returning to Russia, Solzhenitsyn wrote several polemics on Russian history and identity.
His son Stepan was quoted by one Russian news agency as saying his father died of heart failure, while another agency quoted literary sources as saying he had suffered a stroke.
He died in his home in the Moscow area, where he had lived with his wife Natalya, at 2345 local time (1945 GMT), Stepan told Itar-Tass.
The tributes to this great man are already starting to come in: From Gazeta: The Russian President, Dmitriy Medvedev, has expressed his condolences to Solzhenitsyn 's wife and sons.
From the BBC obituary:
Born into a family of Cossack intellectuals, Alexander Solzhenitsyn graduated in mathematics and physics, but within weeks the Soviet Union was fighting Hitler for its survival.
Solzhenitsyn served as an artillery officer and was decorated for his courage, but in 1945 was denounced for criticising Stalin in a letter.
He spent the next eight years as one of the countless men enduring the gulags. He was one of the lucky ones to survive.
There followed a period of internal exile in Kazakhstan during which Solzhenitsyn was successfully treated for stomach cancer.
On his return to European Russia, he was allowed, following Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin, to publish his largely autobiographical One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, in 1962. This made him an instant celebrity. But with the subsequent fall from power of the reformist Khrushchev, the KGB stepped up its harassment of Solzhenitsyn, forcing him to publish his work abroad.
In 1970, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But he refused to attend the award ceremony in Stockholm for fear of not being allowed back home.
In 1973, the first of the three volumes of The Gulag Archipelago was published in the West. He had been hiding the novel from the authorities, fearful that people mentioned in it would suffer reprisals. [It] offered a detailed account of the systematic Soviet abuses from 1918 to 1956 in the vast network of prison and labour camps. Its publication led to a violent campaign against Solzhenitsyn in the Soviet press which denounced him as a traitor.
In early 1974, even Solzhenitsyn's world reputation could not prevent his arrest. But rather than put him on trial, the Soviet authorities stripped him of his citizenship and expelled him from the country.
Eventually, he settled in Vermont in the USA with his second wife and their three sons. Here, he completed the other two volumes of The Gulag Archipelago.
[Age never diminished his political spirit.] In 2006, Solzhenitsyn, then 87, castigated Nato, accusing it of trying to bring Russia under its control. He accused the organisation of "preparing to completely encircle Russia and deprive if of its sovereignty".
By then, Alexander Solzhenitsyn had already secured his place in history as one of the greatest Russian writers of the 20th Century.
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