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Twenty years of exile

Nobel Prize-winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia after spending two decades in exile on this day in 1994

Published: 27th May 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th May 2017 12:30 AM   |  A+A-

Nobel Prize-winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia after spending two decades in exile on this day in 1994

A literary giant who took on communists
Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin for ten years in 1945 for political dissent. An “obscure, middle-aged, unpublished high school science teacher”, he burst onto the literary stage in 1962 with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which was based on his experiences in the Soviet labour camps

‘We must root out Stalinism’
“Solzhenitsyn owed his initial success to (the then Soviet leader) Khrushchev’s decision to allow Ivan Denisovich to be published in a popular journal,”  wrote Michael T Kaufman in the New York Times. Khrushchev was reported to have said, “There’s a Stalinist in each of you; there’s even a Stalinist in me. We must root out this evil.”

Gulag Archipelago
After Khrushchev’s removal in 1964, the communists again started silencing him. His work The Gulag Archipelago, written in secrecy in USSR, is the definitive work on Stalin’s camps where millions died

Literature Nobel
Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Literature Nobel in 1970 “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”. Afraid he wouldn’t be let back into the USSR, he refused to go to Stockholm and received the prize only after he was forcibly exiled in 1974. He came back to Russia in 1994 and died there in 2008, at the age of 89

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