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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  • Russian author
  • Born December 11, 1918
  • Died August 3, 2008

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (; 11 December 1918 – 3 August 2008) was a Russian novelist, historian, and short story writer. He was an outspoken critic of the Soviet Union and communism and helped to raise global awareness of its Gulag forced labor camp system. He was allowed to publish only one work in the Soviet Union, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), in the periodical Novy Mir. After this he had to publish in the West, most notably Cancer Ward (1968), August 1914 (1971), and The Gulag Archipelago (1973).


There are a lot of clear thinkers everywhere.




Our government declared that it is conducting some kind of great reforms. In reality, no real reforms were begun and no one at any point has declared a coherent programme.




It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones.




You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power - he's free again.




Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.




The name of 'reform' simply covers what is latently a process of the theft of the national heritage.




Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 20th century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.




The sole substitute for an experience which we have not ourselves lived through is art and literature.




Literature transmits incontrovertible condensed experience... from generation to generation. In this way literature becomes the living memory of a nation.




For a country to have a great writer is like having a second government. That is why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.




For us in Russia, communism is a dead dog, while, for many people in the West, it is still a living lion.




I have spent all my life under a Communist regime, and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either.




Blow the dust off the clock. Your watches are behind the times. Throw open the heavy curtains which are so dear to you - you do not even suspect that the day has already dawned outside.




The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.

The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.




The clock of communism has stopped striking. But its concrete building has not yet come crashing down. For that reason, instead of freeing ourselves, we must try to save ourselves from being crushed by its rubble.




The next war... may well bury Western civilization forever.

The next war... may well bury Western civilization forever.




Of course God is endlessly multi-dimensional so every religion that exists on earth represents some face, some side of God.




Man has set for himself the goal of conquering the world but in the processes loses his soul.




A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.

A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.




When truth is discovered by someone else, it loses something of its attractiveness.




For us in Russia communism is a dead dog. For many people in the West, it is still a living lion.




Today when we say the West we are already referring to the West and to Russia. We could use the word 'modernity' if we exclude Africa, and the Islamic world, and partially China.




Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle.




Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation's heart, the excision of its memory.




I can say without affectation that I belong to the Russian convict world no less than I do to Russian literature. I got my education there, and it will last forever.




It is time in the West to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.




We have arrived at an intellectual chaos.

We have arrived at an intellectual chaos.




Not everything has a name. Some things lead us into a realm beyond words.




Religion always remains higher than everyday life. In order to make the elevation towards religion easier for people, religion must be able to alter its forms in relation to the consciousness of modern man.




In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.

In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.




Talent is always conscious of its own abundance, and does not object to sharing.




Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle.




It is the artist who realizes that there is a supreme force above him and works gladly away as a small apprentice under God's heaven.




Literature becomes the living memory of a nation.




If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?




Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.

Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.



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