A day in the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

An exhibition opened in Moscow on the great dissident writer of the Soviet era, on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of his birth.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's body was exposed at Donskoy Monastery, Moscow, on August 6, 2008. He died of cardiac arrest three days earlier, at age 89.

This was undoubtedly a special day in the life of the writer, when on November 18, 1962, the magazine Novy Mir (New World) published in Russia the first novel of Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), A day of Ivan Denissovich. "Come quickly to the editor, your expenses will be reimbursed"He had telegraphed him for a few months now to the editor-in-chief of the Soviet literary magazine, Alexandr Tvardovsky. The latter, seized with admiration for this short account of 75 pages on the daily life of a prisoner in the Gulag – testimony then unpublished in the USSR -, will take eleven months to convince the authorities to give the green light to its publication.

Only a few weeks before the novel's release, Tvardovsky was still speaking directly to Nikita Khrushchev, then the first secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR, in a letter dated September 1962. " [Soljenitsyne] is unknown, but tomorrow it can become a name in our literature "he wrote. At the time, the writer was known only to the services of the political police. Arrested in 1945 for criticizing Stalin in a private correspondence, sentenced to eight years of camp for "Counterrevolutionary activity", he had been released in 1953, a few days before the death of the Soviet leader. These years inspired him his first novel that knew, well before The Gulag Archipelago (1973), a huge impact in Russia.

It was then called "Ryazansky" – a sobriquet he will not keep – because he had settled in the city of Ryazan, 200 km south of Moscow. "I just read Ryazansky, also advocated the poet and playwright Samouil Marchak, who translated in Russian the works of William Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling or Jane Austen. It's a small but very important story. No sentence left me indifferent and all that is written in it, we see it …

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