Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Poets and Poems: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and “Prussian Nights”

It was first job out of college. I was a copy editor at a newspaper in Texas. Turnover was high, and with a few short months I was No. 2 on the copy desk. One of my tasks was sorting through all of the stories from wires services and deciding what should be included in the newspaper.

One day, in late 1973, we received a notice from the New York Times News Service. A manuscript of worldwide importance was soon to be published, and it promised enormous impact on world politics. A few weeks later, we learned what the manuscript was: The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a detailed and documented account of life in the Soviet Union’s huge network of labor camps.

Solzhentisyn had emerged as a writer during a small sliver of freedom in the early 1960s. His novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich had been published (or approved for publication) by the Soviet magazine Novy Mir in the early 1960s (translated into English in 1963). Two other manuscripts (Cancer Ward and The First Circle) had circulated in Russia via samizdat and then smuggled out to the West. The Soviets were not pleased when Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. When the non-fiction Gulag was published in early 1974, the Soviet Union responded almost immediately by expelling the writer from the country. He made his way first to Germany, and eventually settled in Vermont, where he continued to write fiction and non-fiction and edit the next two volumes of Gulag.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Photograph by Nuzrath Nuzree via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Anonymous said...

vermont sounds like a pretty good deal...

Anonymous said...