Рефераты - Афоризмы - Словари
Русские, белорусские и английские сочинения
Русские и белорусские изложения

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Работа из раздела: «Литература : русская»

   Municipal educational establishment “High school with a profound study
                       of the English language № 27 ”

                           Alexander Solzhenitsyn


Plan. 1
Introduction.    2
Main part.  3
  1. Biography.  3
  2. Master’s works.   8
  3. The Cancer Ward.  9
Conclusion. 11
Literature. 12


                                                  'Who else, if not writers,
                                           can censure not only their faulty
                                               rulers but society at large?'
                                           Solzhenitsyn (From Nobel lecture)

      'We lived next door but did not understand that she  was  the  upright
person no settlement can  do  without.  Nor  can  a  city.  Nor  the  entire
      This excerpt from the famous short story  'Matriona's  Home'  about  a
peasant woman who gave shelter to the writer in the 1950s perfectly  applies
to the writer himself. A teacher in the broadest sense of the word, a  human
rights activist and a righteous man, whose  principle  has  always  been  to
live without lies.
      Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970 'for  the
ethical force with which he has  pursued  the  indispensable  traditions  of
Russian literature.' Active member of Russian Academy of Sciences (1997).
      Alexander Solzhenitsyn is now 84.  'A  legend  of  the  20th  century,
martyr and hero,' thus the outstanding  Russian  scholar  Dmitry  Likhachyov
described Solzhenitsyn once. For us  Solzhenitsyn  is  not  simply  a  great
writer but rather the nation's conscience whose word strikes  you  not  only
by its artistic value but by its message of truth. This  truth  is  all  the
more impressing since the writer's word and  life  are  never  at  varience.
They complement each other. Today we came to realize that the writer's  most
outstanding 'work' is his own life.
      'Longevity was given to me. 80 years is a longevity. At this  age  you
have new opportunities. You can look back at your life  and  open  something
in it that you could not notice and understand while you were  on  the  run.
For a larger part of our lives  we  act,  and  action  interferes  with  our
ability to take a quiet look at things. An old age gives some scope to  your
soul, a chance to evaluate your deeds.'

                                 Main part.

                                                     1. Biography.

      One of the leading Russian writers  of  the  20th  century,  Alexander
Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, was born in Kislovodsk,  on  the  11th  of  December
1918 in a family of Cossack intellectuals and brought up  primarily  by  his
mother. His father had studied philological subjects at  Moscow  University,
but did not complete his studies, as he enlisted as  a  volunteer  when  war
broke out in 1914. He became an  artillery  officer  on  the  German  front,
fought throughout the war and died in the summer of 1918, six months  before
his son was born. Alexander was brought up by his mother, who  worked  as  a
shorthand typist, in the town of Rostov-on-Don, where he spent the whole  of
his childhood and youth, leaving the grammar school there in 1936.  Even  as
a child, without any prompting from others, he wanted to be  a  writer  and,
indeed, he turned out a good deal of the usual juvenilia. In the  1930s,  he
tried to get his writings published but he could not find anyone willing  to
accept his manuscripts. He wanted to acquire a literary  education,  but  in
Rostov such an education that would suit his wishes was not to be  obtained.
To move to Moscow was not possible, partly because his mother was alone  and
in poor health, and partly because of their modest circumstances.
      Solzhenitsyn therefore began to study at the Department of Mathematics
at Rostov University, where it proved that he had considerable aptitude  for
mathematics. But although he found it easy to learn  this  subject,  he  did
not feel that he wished to devote his whole life  to  it.  Nevertheless,  it
was to play a beneficial role in his destiny later on, and on at  least  two
occasions, it rescued him  from  death.  For  he  would  probably  not  have
survived the eight years in camps if he had not, as  a  mathematician,  been
transferred to a so-called sharashia, where he spent four years; and  later,
during his exile, he was allowed to teach  mathematics  and  physics,  which
helped to ease his existence and made it possible for him to  write.  If  he
had had a literary education it is quite likely  that  he  should  not  have
survived these ordeals  but  would  instead  have  been  subjected  to  even
greater pressures. Later on, it is true, Alexander Isayevich  began  to  get
some literary education as well; this was from 1939 to  1941,  during  which
time, along with university studies in  physics  and  mathematics,  he  also
studied by correspondence  at  the  Institute  of  History,  Philosophy  and
Literature in Moscow.
      In 1941, a few days before  the  outbreak  of  the  war,  Solzhenitsyn
graduated  from  the  Department  of  Physics  and  Mathematics  at   Rostov
University. At the beginning of the  war,  owing  to  weak  health,  he  was
detailed to serve as a driver of horsedrawn vehicles during  the  winter  of
1941-1942. Later, because of his mathematical knowledge, he was  transferred
to an artillery school, from which, after a crash course, he passed  out  in
November 1942. Immediately after this he was put in command of an artillery-
position-finding company, and in this capacity,  served,  without  a  break,
right in the front line  until  he  was  arrested  in  February  1945.  This
happened in East Prussia, a region which is linked with  his  destiny  in  a
remarkable way. As early as 1937, as  a  first-year  student,  he  chose  to
write a descriptive essay  on  'The  Samsonov  Disaster'  of  1914  in  East
Prussia and studied material on this; and in 1945 he himself  went  to  this
area (at the time of writing, autumn 1970, the book  August  1914  has  just
been completed).
      Solzhenitsyn was arrested on the grounds of what  the  censorship  had
found during the  years  1944-1945  in  his  correspondence  with  a  school
friend, mainly  because  of  certain  disrespectful  remarks  about  Stalin,
although they referred to him in disguised terms. As  a  further  basis  for
the 'charge', there were used the drafts of stories  and  reflections  which
had been found in his map case. These, however, were not  sufficient  for  a
'prosecution', and in July 1945  he  was  'sentenced'  in  his  absence,  in
accordance with a procedure then frequently applied, after a  resolution  by
the OSO (the Special Committee of the NKVD), to eight years in  a  detention
camp (at that time this was considered a mild sentence).
      Solzhenitsyn  served  the  first  part  of  my  sentence  in   several
correctional work camps of mixed types (this kind of camp  is  described  in
the play, The Tenderfoot and the Tramp). In 1946,  as  a  mathematician,  he
was transferred to the group of scientific research institutes of  the  MVD-
MOB (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of  State  Security).  He  spent
the middle period of his sentence  in  such  'SPECIAL  PRISONS'  (The  First
Circle). In 1950 he was sent to the newly established 'Special Camps'  which
were intended only for political prisoners. In such a camp in  the  town  of
Ekibastuz in Kazakhstan (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich), he  worked
as a miner, a bricklayer, and a foundryman. There he  contracted  a  tumour,
which was operated on, but the condition was not cured  (its  character  was
not established until later on).
      One month after  he  had  served  the  full  term  of  his  eight-year
sentence,  there  came,  without  any  new  judgement  and  even  without  a
'resolution from the OSO', an administrative decision to the effect that  he
was  not  to  be  released  but  EXILED  FOR  LIFE  to  Kok-Terek  (southern
Kazakhstan). This measure was not directed specially against him, but was  a
very usual procedure at that time. He served this exile from March 1953  (on
March 5th, when Stalin's death was made  public,  he  was  allowed  for  the
first time to go out without an escort) until June  1956.  Here  his  cancer
had developed rapidly, and at the end of 1953, he was very  near  death.  He
was unable to eat; he could not sleep  and  was  severely  affected  by  the
poisons from the tumour. However, he was able to go to a  cancer  clinic  at
Tashkent, where, during 1954, he was cured (The Cancer Ward, Right Hand).
      During all the years of exile,  Solzhenitsyn  taught  mathematics  and
physics in a primary school and during his  hard  and  lonely  existence  he
wrote prose in secret (in the camp he could  only  write  down  poetry  from
memory). He managed, however, to keep what he had written, and  to  take  it
with him to the European part of the country, where, in  the  same  way,  he
continued, as far as the outer world was concerned, to occupy  himself  with
teaching and, in secret, to devote himself  to  writing,  at  first  in  the
Vladimir district (Matryona's Farm) and afterwards in Ryazan.

      During all the years until 1961, not only was  he  convinced  that  he
should never see a single line of him in print in his lifetime,  but,  also,
he scarcely dared allow any of his close acquaintances to read  anything  he
had written because he feared that this would become known. Finally, at  the
age of 42,  this  secret  authorship  began  to  wear  him  down.  The  most
difficult thing of all to bear was that he could not get  his  works  judged
by people with literary training. In 1961, after the 22nd  Congress  of  the
U.S.S.R. Communist Party and Tvardovsky's speech  at  this,  he  decided  to
emerge and to offer One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
      Such an emergence seemed,  then,  to  Solzhenitsyn,  and  not  without
reason, to be  very  risky  because  it  might  lead  to  the  loss  of  his
manuscripts, and to his own  destruction.  But,  on  that  occasion,  things
turned out successfully, and after protracted efforts, A.T.  Tvardovsky  was
able to print his novel one year  later.  The  printing  of  his  work  was,
however, stopped almost immediately and the  authorities  stopped  both  his
plays and (in 1964) the novel, The First Circle, which, in 1965, was  seized
together with his papers from the past years. During these months it  seemed
to him that he had committed an unpardonable mistake by revealing  his  work
prematurely and that because of this he should not be able to carry it to  a
conclusion. After 1966, his work was not published in the Soviet  Union  for
many years.
      The open conflict between communist regime  and  Solzhenitsyn  erupted
with his Letter to the Fourth  National  Congress  of  Soviet  Writers  (May
1967), in which he demanded the abolition of censorship, the  rehabilitation
of many writers victimized during the repression,  and  the  restoration  of
his archives, confiscated by the KGB in 1965. After the  publication  abroad
of The First Circle (1968) and The Cancer Ward (1968-69) abroad and  winning
the Nobel Prize (1970, 'for the ethical force with which he has pursued  the
indispensable  traditions  of   Russian   literature')   the   confrontation
increased. Further public statements by Solzhenitsyn  (A  Lenten  Letter  to
Pimen, Patriarch of all Russia, Letter to the Soviet Leaders, etc.) as  well
as the publication of the first variant of August 1914 (1971) and the  first
volume of The Gulag Archipelago (1973), led the Soviet authorities to  exile
him to Germany (February 1974).

      Having settled first in Switzerland, Solzhenitsyn,  his  wife  Natalia
Dmitrievna, three sons: Ermolai, Ignat and Stepan,  in  1976  moved  to  the
United States.  They  lived  in  Cavendish,  Vermont.  While  in  the  West,
Solzhenitsyn completed The Oak and the Calf (1975) and Three  Plays  (1981).
In 1982 an enlarged version of August 1914 was published as the first  in  a
series of novels about the Russian Revolution to be called collectively  The
Red Wheel.  Excerpts from this work had been published in 1975 as  Lenin  in
Zurich. There were many public addresses and speeches also:  A  World  Split
Apart, Misconceptions About  Russia  Are  a  Threat  to  America,  etc.  The
intellectual and moral influence of Solzhenitsyn played  an  important  role
in the fall of communist power in East Europe and Russia.

      In 1989 Gulag Archipelago was published as a serial  in  the  literary
magazine Novy Mir.  In 1990  Solzhenitsyn  was  again  admitted  the  Soviet
citizenship. Then he published How to  Reconstruct Russia:  Reflections  and
Tentative Proposals.  He came back to Russia in  May  1994.  Among  his  new
works was  Russian  Question  at  the  End  of XX  Century,  Russia  in  the
Abuss and other publicist writing, short stories. Now the magazine Novy  Mir
has began to publish his Sketches on Exile (a sequel  of  The  Oak  and  the
Calf). There is a new his historical book now: 200 Years Together.
      After return he tried to influence the modern Russian politics and met
President Yeltsin (1994) and President Putin (2000).

                             2. Master’s works.

        Literature, however, was not  Solzhenitsyn's  first  profession.  He
graduated from Rostov University (and with honors) and  in  the  50s  taught
mathematics, physics and astronomy. Perhaps, this explains the logic  always
present in his literary work. The idea of every short story  or  epic  novel
is always  crystal  clear.  The  author's  stand  is  never  ambiguous.  The
celebrated One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,  which  made  the  writer
famous overnight, is a wild protest  against  Stalin's  concentration  camps
and, in a broader sense, against suppression of any  personality.  But  this
protest is expressed in amazing artistic form, where every  word  is  richly

      One Day and Matriona's Home have been read by millions  of  people  in
this country, while the large-scale novels In Circle One, Cancer  Ward,  The
GULAG Archipelago and The Red Wheel are a hard  nut  to  crack  and  on  the
whole have not become national bestsellers.  Certainly,  many  readers  were
discouraged by the size of these books; The Red Wheel alone consists  of  10
volumes. Besides, after all  the  revelations  of  the  perestroika  period,
after scandals and masses of compromising material  daily  supplied  by  the
media, many people simply don't have the energy to go deep into  the  events
of the past, which were even more frightening that  those  of  the  present.
The writer himself has an approximately similar opinion  on  the  issue.  As
for the Russian literature of the Soviet period on the  whole,  he  believes
that 'After 1917 life and people changed greatly. But literature produced  a
very poor reflection of these changes. The truth  was  suppressed  and  lies
encouraged. Thus we arrived in the 1990s,  knowing  next  to  nothing  about
this country. This explains the great number of surprises.'
      There is still another reason why  many  people  remain  strangers  to
Solzhenitsyn's work. His major books are not entertaining reading. In  fact,
they are  political  and  philosophical  essays.  The  writer  believes  his
mission is to keep things under constant scrutiny.

                             3. The Cancer Ward.

      I would life to tell you about one of my favorite novels by  Alexander
Solzhenitsyn. It is The Cancer Ward.
      The story takes place in the men's cancer ward of a hospital in a city
in Soviet Central Asia. The patients in Ward 13 all suffer from cancer,  but
differ in age, personality, nationality, and social  class  (as  if  such  a
thing could be possible in the Soviet 'classless' society!).  We  are  first
introduced to Pavel Rusanov, a Communist Party functionary, who  enters  the
hospital because of a rapidly growing neck tumor.

      We soon learn, however, that the  book's  central  character  is  Oleg
Kostoglotov, a young man who has recently been discharged from a penal  camp
and is now 'eternally' exiled to this particular province.  Only  two  weeks
earlier, he was admitted to the ward in grave condition from an  unspecified
tumor, but he has responded rapidly to radiation therapy. Among the  doctors
are Zoya,  a  medical  student;  Vera  Gangart,  a  young  radiologist;  and
Lyudmila Dontsova, the chief of radiation therapy.
      Rusanov  and  Kostoglotov  respond  to  therapy  and  are   eventually
discharged; other patients remain in the ward, get worse, or are  sent  home
to die. In the end Kostoglotov boards a train to the site of  his  'eternal'
exile: 'The long awaited happy life had come, it had come! But Oleg  somehow
did not recognize it.'
      Solzhenitzyn himself was released from a labor  camp  in  early  1953,
just before Stalin's death, and was  exiled  to  a  village  in  Kazakhstan.
While incarcerated, he had been operated on for a tumor, but  was  not  told
the  diagnosis.   He   subsequently   developed   a   recurrence,   received
radiotherapy in Tashkent, and recovered.
      In The Cancer Ward Solzhenitzyn transforms these  experiences  into  a
multifaceted tale about  Soviet  society  during  the  period  of  hope  and
liberalization after Stalin's  death.  Cancer,  of  course,  is  an  obvious
metaphor for the totalitarian state. The novel also provides an  interesting
look at mid-century Soviet medicine and medical ethics.
      The novel also explores  the  personal  qualities  and  motivation  of
physicians, and the issue of  intimate  relationships  between  doctors  and
patients. Probably the book's strongest points are its  insight  into  human
nature and the believability of its characters.


      Solzhenitsyn is disappointed with  Russian  literature:  'On  the  one
hand, our Russian literature is very high because it has not lost its  ethic
standard. On the other hand, partly under the influence of Gogol,  with  his
merciless  attitude  toward  public  vices,  Russian  literature  lost   its
creative message. We have  Oblomov,  Onegin,  Pechorin,  all  the  so-called
'useless people', but where are  the  builders,  the  creators?  Russia  was
created as a mighty power stretching east to  Siberia,  where  back  in  the
18th century we had educational institutions, talented people  and  culture.
Then under Gogol's influence there appeared a succession  of  satirists  and
ironists. Saltytkov-Shchedrin, for example, with his scathing  look  at  the
negative is simply mustard.'
      Today  Solzhenitsyn  continues  working,  preparing  his  diaries  for
publication, writing  letters  to  the  former  fellow-inmates  and  helping
thousands of people. The Solzhenitsyn foundation is based on  the  royalties
of The GULAG Archipelago, published in 30 countries. It  supports  thousands
of former political prisoners across Russia.
      'Giving is far more important than taking,' says  the  writer's  wife,
Natalia. 'As for him, he has popular love.  He  receives  wonderful  letters
and knows there are many people who are grateful to him. But  he  works  not
for this gratitude. We are happy to be back home. We never feel lonely,  nor
do we bear any grudge. We feel as if we had never left the country.'


                    1. Нива Ж. Солженицын. – М., 1992.
 2. The New York Times, May 15,1997.
 3. The New York Times, March 1, 1998.
 4. Encyclopedia Britannica.
 5. Профиль, 12 января 1998, №1.
Student: Marina Telegina.
Form: 11”B”
Teacher: Solodkov V.V.

                                Angarsk, 2002

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