Tuesday, August 12, 2008


"He wrote, that while an ordinary man was obliged 'not to participate in lies,' artists had greater responsibilities. 'It is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!'"

That's from the NYT last week, after Solzhenitsyn died. Mainly I remember how he and his bone-shattering books embarrassed the liberal intelligentsia in the 1980s, when I lived in Boston among, but not of, the Cambridge cognoscenti. They didn't like his shamelessly truthful chronicles of the great failure of the Soviet experiment -- such as One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Gulag Archipelago, or even Cancer Ward. They spoke of his work as "fiction."

Russians have a saying, "Eat bread and salt and speak the truth." Solzehnitsyn was a blunt and truthful witness and that's worth more than a hundred witty and cultured Cambridge cognoscenti.

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