Golden Recursion Inc. logoGolden Recursion Inc. logo
Advanced Search
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a Russian novelist and historian who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970.

The Russian writer, essayist, and social activist Alexander Solzhenitsyn was born December 11, 1918 in Kislovodsk. Solzhenitsyn's parents came from peasants, but received a good education. When the First World War broke out, his father, Isay Solzhenitsyn, left Moscow University to volunteer at the front, and was awarded three times for bravery. He was killed in the hunt six months before his son was born. To support herself and her child, Solzhenitsyn's mother, Taisia Zakharovna (née Shcherbak), worked as a typist after her husband's death, and when the boy was six years old, she moved with her son to Rostov-on-Don.

In 1936 Solzhenitsyn graduated from high school and entered the physics department of Rostov University. In 1939, he enrolled as an extern at the Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History in Moscow. After graduating, Solzhenitsyn worked as a mathematics teacher in a Rostov high school.

In 1941 he was mobilized and served in the artillery. In 1943 he received the Order of Patriotic War of the second degree, the next - the Order of the Red Star, being already a captain.

On February 9, 1945, at the front in East Prussia Solzhenitsyn was arrested for the sharp anti-Stalinist statements in the letters to his childhood friend Nikolay Vitkevich. On July 27, 1945, he was sentenced to eight years of hard labor camps under Article 58 of the Criminal Code, paragraphs 10 and 11.

Within a year, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was in a Moscow prison, and then was transferred to Marfino, a specialized prison near Moscow, where mathematicians, physicists and scientists of other specialties conducted secret scientific research. Experienced these years reflected the writer in such works as "The Deer and the shalashovka," "The Road," "In the First Circle", "The Gulag Archipelago. Since 1950, Solzhenitsyn was in Ekibastuz prison camp (the experience of "general work" recreated in the story "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"); here he contracted cancer (the tumor was removed in February 1952). From February 1953 Solzhenitsyn was in "eternal exile" in the aul Kok-Terek (Dzhambul region, Kazakhstan).

In February 1956 Solzhenitsyn was rehabilitated by decision of the Supreme Court of the USSR, which made his return to Russia possible.

In 1956-1957 he was a teacher in a rural school in the Vladimir region. Since 1957, Solzhenitsyn lived in Ryazan, where he taught school.

In May-June 1959 Solzhenitsyn wrote the story "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" (original title "Sch-854"), the manuscript of which was given to Alexander Tvardovsky, editor-in-chief of the magazine "New World". Tvardovsky realized that the censors would not grant permission for publication, and he appealed personally to Nikita Khrushchev for permission. In 1962, Solzhenitsyn made his magazine debut. "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" was the first published work on the camp theme.

In 1963, in the January "New World" were published stories "Matrenin yard" and "The incident at the station Krechetovka.

From 1965 to 1968 was written "The Gulag Archipelago", in 1966 - finished the novel "Cancer Ward.

After the fall of Khrushchev Solzhenitsyn was criticized by the authorities, a campaign against the writer was launched: in September 1965, the KGB seized his authors' archive; possibilities of publications were cut off, only the story "Zakhar-Kalita" ("New World", 1966) was published. The triumphant discussion of "Cancer Ward" in the prose section of the Moscow branch of the Writers' Union did not bring the main result - the story remained under a ban. In 1969 Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Union of Writers.

In 1970 Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the moral force with which he continued the tradition of Russian literature.

In February 1974, Solzhenitsyn was arrested, accused of high treason and, by decision of the CPSU Central Committee, stripped of his Soviet citizenship. For some time the writer and his family lived in Zurich, Switzerland, then moved to the United States, where he settled in Vermont, near the town of Cavendish. Over the next three years, Solzhenitsyn, trying not to attract attention, visited various universities in America, which have Russian archival fonds, and worked on the epic "Red Wheel", remade the first "knot" August Fourteenth, as well as created two new novels "October Sixteenth" and "March Seventeenth. In addition to fiction, Solzhenitsyn was actively engaged in journalism, reflecting on the past and future of Russia, trying to find a distinctive Russian way, based on national moral values.

Chapters from "Gulag Archipelago" were not printed in the Soviet Union until 1989, after the beginning of perestroika, and in August 1990 Solzhenitsyn was returned to Soviet citizenship. In 1994 the writer returned to his homeland, but his arrival was controversially received, causing much controversy about the writer's work and stance on life. After his arrival, Solzhenitsyn settled near Moscow in an allotment in the village of Troitse-Lykovo, where he continued his literary work. In 1998, was published autobiographic work "Ugodiloslo kernel between two millstones. Sketches of exile. His stories and lyrical miniatures ("Tiny") were published. In 2001-2002, the writer's two-volume edition of Two Two Hundred Years Together (A Study of Contemporary Russian History), devoted to Russian-Jewish relations, was published. The book provoked a controversial reaction. In 2006, a 30-volume collection of the works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn began to appear.

The writer died August 3, 2008 in his house in Troitse-Lykovo of acute heart failure. He is buried in the cemetery of the Donskoi monastery in Moscow.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a full member of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation. In 1998 he was awarded the Order of St. Andrew, but declined the award. He was awarded the Lomonosov Grand Gold Medal (1998). In 2007, he was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation for outstanding achievements in the field of humanitarian activity.

Shortly after his return to the country, a literary prize named after him was established to award writers "whose work has high artistic merits, contributes to the self-cognition of Russia, and makes a significant contribution to the preservation and careful development of the traditions of Russian literature".

In 1974 the writer founded the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Russian Public Foundation and gave it all the world's royalties for The Gulag Archipelago. Since then, the Foundation has provided systematic assistance to victims of the Gulag, as well as funding projects related to the preservation of Russian culture.

Solzhenitsyn was married for the second time (his first marriage to Natalya Reshetovskaya was dissolved in 1973). From his marriage to his second wife Natalya Svetlova he had three sons: Yermolai (born in 1970), Ignat (born in 1972) and Stepan (born in 1973). Solzhenitsyn's adopted son Dmitry Tyurin, Natalya Solzhenitsyn's eldest son from her first marriage, died in 1994.


December 11, 1918
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk.


Further Resources



Golden logo
By using this site, you agree to our Terms & Conditions.