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Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn Edit Profile


Once on the meeting Nikita Khruschev called Aleksandr Isayevich as Ivan Denisovich(character of Solzhenitsyn book). USSR Author, Nobel Prize laureate.


Educated at high school in Rostov-on-Don. Graduated from Rostov University in mathematics and physics, 1941.


His father died before Aleksandr’s birth. Brought up by his mother (the daughter of a rich farmer), who knew French and English well, and worked as a typist and stenographer. Artillery captain, 1941-1945.

Arrested in February 1945 at the front in East Prussia by the NKVD for disparaging remarks about Stalin in his letters. Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. Spent the first 5 years of his prison term employed as a mathematician in a special scientific research institute in Moscow (Sharashka) run by the Interior ministry-MGB. Later gave a remarkable description of this establishment in his novel V Kruge Pervom (The First Circle).

Sent to a labour camp in Kazakhstan, 1950-1953 (described in Olen’ i Shalashovka-T\t Love Girl and the Innocent - and in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich). Released after Stalin’s death in March 1953 with terminal cancer, prohibited to live anywhere except Central Asia. Described his illness in Rakovyi Korpus (The Cancer Ward).

Settled in KokTerek, Kazakhstan, as a mathematics teacher, 1953-1956, and made an amazing recovery. Receiving permission to move to Central Russia, returned to Riazan, resuming family ties with his first wife N. Reshetovskaia. His first story was published in the magazine Novyi Mir thanks to the efforts of its editor-in-chief Tvardovskii and the personal permission given by N. Khrushchev.

Ivan Denisovich was the first public description of the tragedy of the Gulag camps in the USSR, which so deeply affected the life of the whole nation, and created a sensation in 1962. Became an over-night celebrity and a symbol of the demands for glasnost. By judicious use of his literary talent and practical ingenuity (described in The Calf and the Oak), gained enormous prestige and was able for years to successfully resist considerable pressure (constant persecution by the Committee for State Security, expulsion from the Writers Union, refusal to publish his works).

His works and declarations (against censorship, for religious freedom and for a return to traditional cultural values) became wellknown in samizdat, although after 1966 he was unable to publish anything officially in the USSR and even his previously published works were removed from libraries. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. Not permitted to receive the prize officially, and refused the Swedish offer to get it clandestinely (in the end, received it in person at a full-scale ceremony in Stockholm when already living in the West).

The pressure from the establishment and the Committee for State Security was matched by the deep sympathy which was felt for him among very wide circles in the USSR. Given refuge at the most difficult time by Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife, the opera singer Galina Vishnevskaia, at their dacha in Peredelkino. Received the widest cooperation from hundreds of his former Gulag inmates when gathering material for his sensational 3-volume Gulag Archipelago. Met a young scientist Natalia Svetlova, and married her (after his estrangement from Reshetovskaia, who had been manipulated by the Committee for State Security).

When the Gulag Archipelago began to appear abroad (Les Editeurs Reunis, Paris), expelled from the USSR (in handcuffs, on a special plane with a Committee for State Security guard) to Germany. Stayed with Heinrich Boll (a fellow Nobel Prizewinner), later moved to Zurich, where he completed research for Lenin in Zurich. In 1976, moved to the USA, where he settled with his family in the state of Vermont.

A Laureate of the Templeton Prize for the Advancement of Religion. Seen by some in the West as a shrewd and difficult personality with right-wing and monarchist leanings, due to his sharp polemics against left-wing circles. In the 1980s, engaged in a multi-volume historical work Krasnoe Koleso (The Red Wheel) on life in Russia during World War I and the Revolution 1917, which he regards as the main work of his life.

Also instrumental in starting a debate on postWorld War II forcible repatriation of Russians, 1943-1947, and the lifting of the anathema on Old Believers by the Russian Orthodox Church, practiccally healing the schism (Raskol). Despite many acrimonious controversies, generally regarded by enemies and friends alike as by far the most important figure of present times in Russian literature. Other works: A Letter to the Leaders of the Soviet Union, Avgust 14 (August 1914), Matrenin Dvor.

Several editions of his collected works published in France, USA and Germany.


Quotations: Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened."[49]


  • Academy Arts and Scis.

  • Hoover Institute War

  • Revolution and Peace (honorary)

  • Russian Academy of Scis. (field of language).