Remembering Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: December 11, 1918–August 3, 2008F. Roger Devlin
In memory of novelist, historian, Nobel laureate, and man of the Right Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, we are reprinting F. Roger Devlin’s obituary from The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 1 (2008) as well as a list of other works about Solzhenitsyn on Counter-Currents. — Greg Johnson
The whole purpose of the revolution was to make a man like him impossible. They were forging a new being from the pliable stuff of human nature, one which would fit seamlessly into the classless society of the future. That was the reason for the censorship, the propaganda masquerading as education, the coerced conformity, the prohibition on travel, the prison camps. He is said to have read Das Kapital on his honeymoon. But the eight years forced labor they gave the young Red Army captain for some unguarded remarks about Stalin seem only to have purged his vision of all ideological distortion, of all petty and merely personal concerns. He said in later years that he no longer felt his life to be fully his own, that he had been given a mission to speak the truth for the millions who had been silenced in the name of a lie.
In America, always apt to confuse the good man with the good fellow, such integrity sometimes met with incomprehension. When Gerald Ford declined to talk with him in 1975, a White House aide explained that the author’s motive for seeking a meeting with the American President was presumably to increase sales of his books. His journalistic acclaim as a star of the Cold War evaporated overnight after an address at Harvard University. He informed his hosts that American society—weakened by prosperity, incapable of sacrifice, overly reliant on positive law, and lacking a mooring in the transcendent—was not an attractive model to Russians long schooled in suffering. His subsequent unpopularity was due to a refusal to compromise his vocation of telling the truth as far as it was given him to see.
For he understood this to be the proper task even of the artist. Rejecting the romantic view of the writer as creator of fictional worlds, he invoked, in his Nobel Lecture, an older vision of the writer as God’s apprentice, attempting to capture in powerful images an order not of his own making. Realism, in this view, and particularly moral realism, is the highest achievement of human art. A genuine work of literary art, he said, cannot be constructed on an error or a lie, because artificial and forced concepts do not survive their trial by images. Perhaps he had in mind the inane Soviet “production novels,” in which strapping dullards win the love of the prettiest girl at the factory by overfulfilling the plan. His own recounting of A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, an ordinary peasant serving a ten-year sentence in a Siberian prison camp, was a bombshell upon publication in the mendacious atmosphere of Khrushchev’s USSR precisely because of its unpretentious truthfulness.
That first little novel is still what I would recommend as the best introduction to the author, preferably in the Willetts translation. One might then dip into The Solzhenitsyn Reader, an anthology published in 2006 (see my review in The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 3).
Despite the common perception, Solzhenitsyn has never described himself as a nationalist; and he has explicitly distanced himself from any form of nationalism which would “elevate one’s nationality above a humble stance before Heaven.” He merely considers it natural and decent to love one’s homeland and national kin.
He has also admonished his countrymen that “a multinational country must rely in difficult moments of its history upon the support of all its citizens.” Russians in the early Soviet period were a “dispossessed majority,” demonized as oppressors by all the other nationalities of the former Empire and systematically taught to be ashamed of their own nation and its past. A propos of this subject, allow me to quote from the Nobel Lecture:
Countries continually repeat each other’s mistakes with a time lag. What one people has already endured, appraised, and rejected suddenly emerges among another people as the very latest word. Here once again the sole substitute for an experience which we ourselves have not lived through is art and literature. Both are endowed with the miraculous power to communicate the experience of the entire nation to another nation which has not undergone such a difficult, decades-long collective experience. In a fortunate instance, this could save an entire nation from a redundant, or erroneous, or even destructive course.
In 2001, Solzhenitsyn surprised everyone by publishing, in his eighty-third year, a new thousand-page work on the history of the Jews in Russia: Two Hundred Years Together. He had not lost his ability to scandalize. The publisher of the International Jewish Gazette in Russia gravely assured an American interviewer that the author’s real motive in undertaking this gargantuan project was “to draw attention to himself.” The work has attracted great interest in the West, but English-speaking readers may not be allowed to form their own opinion of it for some time yet. Yale University Press is known to have expressed interest in the work as early as 2001, only to drop it without explanation amid rumors that vehement protests from Jewish heavyweights had derailed the project.
But Harper Collins did announce that they would be bringing out the new, uncensored translation of The First Circle in 2009—just forty-five years after its completion. So perhaps anything is possible.
Feeling that no review published hitherto had given readers a proper sense of Two Hundred Years’ purpose and character, I undertook an account of it for an upcoming issue of this journal. [See below — Ed.] I had just put the finishing touches to it when I was given the sad duty of preceding it with an obituary.
I do not feel especially alarmed at smug reports in the press that he has been forgotten already or that young Russians are more interested in rock stars now. It is the nature of the journalistic mind to treat publicity as more important than reality. Solzhenitsyn is unpopular with such men for the very reasons that insure his lasting importance.
We men of the West had better remember him, for we may never again behold his like. When The Gulag Archipelago was released for publication in 1974, the official Soviet press was reduced to telling its captive readers that the three volumes of horrifying revelations were a panegyric upon Hitler. In France, it was an event which changed history. A whole generation had just grown up thinking Communism was cool because it frightened their parents. Suddenly they saw party spokesmen, confronted with passages from Solzhenitsyn on television, helplessly babbling about “last year’s record Soviet harvest.” He had made the mighty communists contemptible. More than any other moment in the Cold War, this is when wise observers knew the game was up—the Soviet Union was living on borrowed time. If our children do not come to appreciate his importance, the fault will be ours, not Solzhenitsyn’s.
Requiescat in pace.
About Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:
- F. Roger Devlin, “The Importance of Solzhenitsyn: Tom Sunić Interviews F. Roger Devlin.” (podcast)
- F. Roger Devlin, “Solzhenitsyn for Today’s World,” a review of Spencer J. Quinn’s Solzhenitsyn and the Right.
- F. Roger Devlin, “Solzhenitsyn on the Jews and Soviet Russia.” (Two Hundred Years Together)
- F. Roger Devlin, “Solzhenitsyn on the Jews and Tsarist Russia.” (Two Hundred Years Together)
- Spencer J. Quinn, “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Rise of a Prophet.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Lenin in Zurich.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards: Revisiting Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard Address.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “March 1917 in June 2020.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “‘Matryona’s House’: Solzhenitsyn’s Love Letter to the Russian People.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “The Memoirs of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “On Aleksandr Solzhenityn’s Warning to the West.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “The Prison Plays of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “Solzhenitsyn from Under the Rubble.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together,” Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Audio version read by Gaddius Maximus
- Spencer J. Quinn, “Stolypin vs. Bogrov: Themes of Ethnonationalism in Solzhenitsyn’s August 1914.” (Czech version here)
Works Making Substantial Reference to Solzhenitysn:
- Jonathan Bowden, “The Soviet Gulag.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “A Beginner’s Guide to the Jewish Question.”
- Spencer. J. Quinn, “Benjamin Ginsburg’s How the Jews Defeated Hitler.”
- Spencer J. Quinn, “Letter to the Z Man.”
- Dominique Venner, “The Rebel: An Interview with Dominique Venner.” (Portuguese translation here)
- Interview with Leo Yankevich
Enoch Powell, poslední tory
A “Novel” Approach to the Understanding of Evil
Remembering Gabriele D’Annunzio (March 12, 1863–March 1, 1938)
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 525 On Capitalism, Socialism, & the Ethnostate
The Elite Are Those Who Refuse to Lie
Remembering Richard M. Weaver (March 3, 1910–April 1, 1963)
Lipton Matthews Interviews Beau Albrecht about MLK
Whittaker Chambers: The Quaker Who Exposed Communism in the US, Part 2
I hope that some good person will write also a ‘A Beginner’s Guide to the Race Question’, so that we can have in one place most important informations, refutation of the egalitarian lies, as well as some links (to articles, videos, audios) so that we can further study this relevant topic.
I’m reposting a pertinent past comment (with a few additions):
Start with Jared Taylor, White Identity (especially good for Americans), and then Greg Johnson, The White Nationalist Manifesto.
Obviously, everything by Greg Johnson at CC should be read. Just going back to Dr. Johnson’s earliest material here and then reading forward to the present would constitute an enormous education in all aspects of the white man’s plight. Ditto for many other of the writers (but Johnson is preeminent for providing clear understanding of the core issues).
There is also a wealth of material at the American Renaissance, The Occidental Observer, and National Vanguard websites. The Occidental Quarterly is worth subscribing to (the first decade’s issues can be accessed freely over the internet). One can also find the old issues of the now-defunct Instauration online.
Worthy books include (in order only of my remembering them; those in bold are especially important, though there is clearly a bias towards the American situation):
Salter, On Genetic Interests
Robertson, The Dispossessed Majority
Murray, Human Diversity; The Bell Curve; Losing Ground
Rushton, Race, Evolution and Behavior
Taylor, Paved With Good Intentions
Oliver, America’s Decline; Christianity and the Survival of the West; “Conspiracy or Degeneracy?”
Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance
Pearson, Heredity and Humanity; Shockley on Eugenics and Race
Nelson, America Balkanized
Brimelow, Alien Nation
Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order; Who We Are
Keeley, War Before Civilization
Brown, The Might of the West
Simpson, Which Way Western Man?
Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet
Lynn (where to start or end with this great scholar?), Dysgenics; Eugenics; IQ and the Wealth of Nations; The Global Bell Curve; The Chosen People
Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization
Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color; The Revolt Against Civilization
Hannaford, RACE: The History of an Idea in the West (lefty but useful)
Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (again, not by one of us, but useful)
Francis, Essential Writings on Race (I would add Beautiful Losers and Revolt from the Middle just because he was such a good writer, and all Sam’s stuff ultimately related to our cause in some way or another; I’ve not read Leviathan and its Enemies)
Wood, Diversity: The Invention of a Concept
Gottfried, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt
Burnham, Suicide of the West
MacDonald, A People That Shall Dwell Alone; Separation and Its Discontents; The Culture of Critique
Reed, The Controversy of Zion
Duke, My Awakening
Scruton, The West and the Rest
Duchesne, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization
Levin, Why Race Matters
Hardin, Living Within Limits
Raspail, The Camp of the Saints (novel)
This list is obviously not intended to be exhaustive. There are numerous works that could be added (and I encourage others to do so) that I simply haven’t read (works by Richard McCulloch, eg, Destiny of Angels), or am not remembering. CC publishes many such books, as does Arktos, Ostara, and Imperium presses. There are also legions of books tangentially related to the Occidental cause, like the histories of David Irving and Thomas Goodrich, or such popular science works as Pinker, The Blank Slate, and Plomin, Blueprint. CC ought to start an open and ongoing space (ie, one where comments never close, so it can be continuously added to) for White Nationalist Bibliography, so newbies (and racial preservationist veterans!) have a place to turn for ready recommendations to get up to maximum speed on these issues. We’re not (yet) politically viable, but we’re certainly intellectually so. The more educated we get now, the more powerful we will become, and the greater our chances to secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.
Holy shit, I haven’t suspected, that I will receive such a litany of books, but anyway, enormous thanks for your help. I haven’t read most of your books, in fact I have read only very few from your list. When it comes to Macdonald – I prefer second to third part of his trilogy, because, it is not only about (((their))) destructive activities, but also and above all: how to fight (((them))) back! I have just started to listen to the audio version of the first part, especially because I want to know how these parasites from middle eastern deserts have aquired so high intelligence?! OK, so let’s start this intellectual journey, good times, good times as Golden One often says.
Btw: I don’t want to bother you further, but what about history of the european race (or more broadly: history of an aryan race including our eastern cousins from Iran and higher castes of India)? Are there any books (or films or audios or maybe some articles at least) worth mentioning? Your books seem to be concentrated mostly on 1) biology 2) present politics, and there is not much place left for our history, especially the most curious and inspiring part of our history: namely our heroic history. For me personally books such as (to give some examples): Mein Kampf (Hitler), For My Legionaries (Codreanu) or mentioned above book My Awakening (Duke) were and are particularly curious and inspiring, because are more autobiographical than purely theorethical, and were written by people who were/are more like fighters then purely intellectuals (though I myself am more like intellectual, than a fighter, in fact much more), and include many practical advices how to conduct our lives properly, not only how to illuminate the normies.
There’s no such thing as “aryan race”. Aryan is a linguistic term, not a racial one. There are “aryan” languages, but there are not “aryan” races. Dr. Hans Guenther has explained that 80 years ago.
Interesting! And yes, I have heard not once about Guenther, without however reading the man himself. Hitler & Codreanu/Cuza have been using term aryan race and so have I, thus following their example, though now I rather think in terms of european race.
Well, much of what you ask for can be gleaned from any older (honest) work of European historiography. More specifically, you might enjoy Arthur Kemp’s history of the white race, March of the Titans, though, while I admire Mr. Kemp’s ideological soundness and commitment to white preservation, I had the feeling when reading/perusing his multivolume work that serious, professional historians might have a host of issues with his often tendentious presentation and occasional historical simplification.
You asked for what might be called a General Introduction to the Race Question (RQ), so I provided what I know (albeit from an American-centric and English-language perspective). There are may aspects to the RQ (as it pertains to whites, and note: CC is devoted to white interests, and is not merely a racially neutral, human biodiversity source), but they boil down to whether race is empirically meaningful as a category of biological and historical analysis; the effects of diversity (coercively imposed nonwhiteness) upon white nations; and the current state and future prospects of the white race and its unique Western civilization. The books I listed, if carefully read, should be more than sufficient to debrainwash any openminded person who currently accepts the West’s mainstream, establishment views on race (ie, taxonomical race-denialism, combined with the belittling of white accomplishment; the exaggerated celebration of nonwhites; the inculcation of ethico-historical white guilt; and the undesirability – at least for whites – of racially homogeneous nations).
To repeat: the bibliographic list I provided is not remotely implied to be exhaustive.
I enjoy your comments.
Thank you for the archive at the bottom. I’ve only read Gulag Archipelago and Ivan Denisovich and I’ve been unsure of what to go on to next, but I think these articles will help me out. Any recommendations would be appreciated as well.
University of Notre Dame Press has over the past few years been publishing new translations of the early portions of Solzhenitsyn’s massive Red Wheel novel cycle. I believe they’ve put out three parts (ie, three 700+ page novels) so far. Right now, they’re still having a sale for I think 40% off (plus free shipping above $30 or $50, I forget), but it ends soon. Spencer Quinn has reviewed some of those here.
I have a copy of “One Day in the Life of Ivan…” and I started it once but it was such a downer than I never finished it. I know he was a great writer, maybe the best in the 20th century.
His sentence was 10 years. 3,653 days. The three extra days were for the leap years.
I respect Solzhenitsyn as an important figure in the anti-Communist struggle of the last century, but I do not like him as a writer. For me he is too wordy and sometimes too boring. As anti-Communist writers I prefer much more such authors as Ivan Soloniewicz and Grigory Klimov, and also many books of Soviet defectors – military and intelligence officers, diplomats, officials, journalists, and even writers and artists. Kravchenko’s I CHOOSE FREEDOM is no way worse than ARCHIPELAG GULAG, and written for 20 years earlier. Yes, I know that Kravchenko was a moderate Left and stayed a Socialist till his death, but as witness he is no less important than A.S. As for Jews in Russia there was a good book JEWS IN RUSSIA AND IN THE USSR, written by Russian emigrant author Andrey Dikiy, and that was in the last half of 1960’s. Also Klimov and Soloniewicz both have discussed “Jewish question” in Russia in their books. I do not know if any of their works were translated into English.
Thanks so much for your recommendations, but I don’t think it’s easy for us Americans to find these things, particularly in English.
You probably have no idea how difficult it can be to get Solzhenitsyn. It’s not easy to get-in a good and complete translation.
In book form, much more difficult.
Gulag Archipelago was a smash hit book in the US in the late 60’s (or was it early 70’s?)
It’s insanely hard to find in all three volumes.
I have them because I inherited them from my parents. They are cheaply printed and moldy, and falling apart.
I haven’t had much luck replacing them.
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