The writer and the empire: who wins? The words win.

December 17, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, during the 1970s, was a hero in the West because as a Russian writer, he chose to stand against the Soviet empire and expose its corruption and inhumanity.

His weapon was a short novel titledA Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which recounted the experiences of a Russian man sentenced to a Soviet labor camp — something that Solzhenitsyn himself had undergone.

The novel was smuggled out of the Soviet Union and published in the West. It became wildly popular and Solzhenitsyn became a household name. It rang so true and was so damning that Communist regimes never again mustered any moral standing in the world.

The writer was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and stripped of his citizenship. He settled in America and continued his writing. His novels sold widely and his voice remained powerful, but his influence waned, particularly after he criticized American society.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Solzhenitsyn was vindicated in his criticisms, and three years later he returned to his native land as a hero. But he didn’t seem any better satisfied with what Russian leaders were doing to democratize the nation than he had been with America. The country needed a strong leader, one who could maintain order, support the Church, and return the nation to its traditional values.

He thus welcomed the rise of Vladimir Putin and accepted the honors Putin offered him in 2007. He died the next year at the age of 89.

Because the centenary of his birth occurred this week, Michael Scammell, his biography, has written a piece about him in the New York Times. Scammell gives Solzhenitsyn a great deal of credit for the ultimate downfall of the Communist regime — credit he undoubtedly deserves.

He risked his all to drive a stake through the heart of Soviet communism and did more than any other single human being to undermine its credibility and bring the Soviet state to its knees. Source: Opinion | The Writer Who Destroyed an Empire – The New York Times

Solzhenitsyn’s battle with the Soviets shows the strength of writing against a political power. Words and ideas have moral force when they are correct, and they cannot be killed.

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