Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn has received a very good obit in the Guardian (h/t Jogo, who quite rightly says "I daresay many of its older readers cannot truthfully claim always to have loved and respected him"). The Indy publishes his last interview.

Predictably, the Stalinists and neo-Stalinists highlight his antisemitism and reactionary nationalism - Lenny here in the UK, or Andrew Austin in America, who calls the US prison system the American gulag (nearly as offensive in my mind as comparing it to the concentration camps).

For a more nuanced view, read Christopher Hitchens (of course) and Ross Douthat. They get a better measure of both his grandeur and his flaws.

2 comments:

The Contentious Centrist said...

In my unpublished post about Solzhenitsyn I also highlighted his antisemitism and Russian nationalism. You can't possibly categorize me as a Stalinist or whatever. It is a fact that these two qualities disfigure his legacy as a fighter for freedom and justice. At least in my eyes they do.

The Drunk Trots made some very pertinent comments about him, especially the mild george s:

"..And yes, he would have been a Stalin on the other side, or indeed any side, but an awful lot of people would be Stalin if they could, and those first few books of his are a pretty remarkable epic record."

http://drinksoakedtrotsforwar.com/2008/08/04/hitchens-on-alexander-solzhenitsyn/

TNC said...

Sultan Knish also has a highly critical post re: Solzhenitsyn.
Here are a couple of paragraphs:

http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2008/08/solzhenitsyn-no-one-knows.html

"While many conservatives insist on thinking of Solzhenitsyn as a fighter for freedom in the American sense, his actual politics were far closer to the European far right. Little wonder from a Monarchist whose first pamphlet actually called for the forcibly expulsion of the Jews from Russia and who to his dying day conducted a historical agenda of blaming most of Russia's problems on the Jews.

But it's not his anti-semitism that distinguishes Solzhenitsyn. Bigotry is a commonplace part of Russian politics. His hypocrisies on the other hand are another matter."