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Solzhenitsyn Dead - CNN.com [Aug. 4th, 2008|05:36 am]
Slavic Languages & Literature



Russian novelist, former dissident, Solzhenitsyn dead

  • Story Highlights
  • Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970
  • Years in Soviet labor camp served as basis for his literary work
  • In 1974, he was deported to West Germany; lived for years in Vermont
  • In 1990, his citizenship was restored; he moved back to Russia in 1994

(CNN) -- Russian novelist and historian Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose works detailed the horrors of Stalin's Soviet labor camps, has died at 89, Russian news agencies reported Monday.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn addresses parliament in 1994, the year he returned to Russia after two decades in exile.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn addresses parliament in 1994, the year he returned to Russia after two decades in exile.

His son, Stepan Solzhenitsyn, told The Associated Press his father died of heart failure late Sunday at his home near Moscow, Russia.

Awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970 for "The First Circle," Alexander Solzhenitsyn was considered a moral voice for Russia. His works centered on issues of good and evil, materialism and salvation.

His three-volume "Gulag Archipelago" unveiled the horrors of the Soviet labor camps, where he himself was imprisoned for eight years.

"Even as a child, without any prompting from others, I wanted to be a writer and, indeed, I turned out a good deal of the usual juvenilia," Solzhenitsyn said in a short autobiography written for the Nobel Foundation.

Even so, Solzhenitsyn, who served in the Russian Army during World War II, spent much of his life as a mathematician. Photo See photos of Solzhenitsyn »

He was arrested in February 1945 for writing letters critical of Stalin and was sentenced to eight years at labor camps, which would provide the context of his future writings.

"During all the years until 1961, not only was I convinced that I should never see a single line of mine in print in my lifetime, but, also, I scarcely dared allow any of my close acquaintances to read anything I had written because I feared that this would become known," he said in the Nobel autobiography. "Finally, at the age of 42, this secret authorship began to wear me down."

He published his first work, a novella titled "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," in a literary journal in 1959. The story was based on his own experiences at a labor camp in Kazakhstan where he worked as a miner, bricklayer and foundryman, and was later printed on a wider scale in 1961.

After publishing several more works, including the novel "Cancer Ward" -- a fictional piece based on Solzhenitsyn's own successful treatment at a clinic in Uzbekistan during his post-labor camp years of exile from 1953 to June 1956 -- he won the Nobel Prize for "The First Circle."

However, Solzhenitsyn didn't attend the ceremony for fear he would not be allowed re-entry into the Soviet Union.

Three years later, his "Gulag Archipelago" was published in Paris, France.

In 1974, he was accused of treason, stripped of his citizenship and deported to West Germany. He accepted an invitation to teach at Stanford University in California, then later moved to the woods of Cavendish, Vermont, where he lived with his family for years.

In 1990, his citizenship was restored, and he moved back to Russia in 1994.

He published his final original work in June 2001 with "200 Years Together: 1775-1995," about the history of Jews in Russia.

Last year, then-President Vladimir Putin bestowed the country's highest humanitarian award upon him. Solzhenitsyn's second wife, Natalya, accepted the award on his behalf because he was too frail to attend the public ceremony.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences to Solzhenitsyn's wife and sons, Medvedev's press secretary told the Russian news agency Interfax.