Cella's Review alerts us to ISI's new The Solzhenitsyn Reader , an anthology of essays, speeches, excerpts from novels, and poetry by the man who awakened many to the true menace of Russian communism.
In hindsight, it's difficult to imagine how unaware most of the West was about the brutal reality of the gulag until Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. In those post-McCarthy years, it was unfashionable to criticize the Soviet Union or Communism, except as a military threat. Solzhenitsyn exposed the true horror of the atheist regime, which responded by exiling him, first to Switzerland and finally backwoods Cavendish, Vermont.
He disappointed many in the growing American conservative movement with his commencement address at Harvard University in 1978. Far from being a rah-rah stump speech for capitalism, Solzhenitsyn condemned the amorality and spiritual emptiness of Western society in the same terms in which he criticized Communism.
Now back in Mother Russia, with his 88th birthday a month away, he continues to be controversial. Catholics particularly are unhappy with his stance against the admission of Catholic priests to Russia from other countries. He has also been accused of anti-Semitism and pro-dictatorial views. Despite his stubborn refusal to be easily categorized, Solzhenitsyn will certainly be remembered as one of the most influential voices of the past 100 years.