Ivan Denisovich Has Died


One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world,
he told us. Here's Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Nobel lecture on the nature of art:
One day Dostoevsky threw out the enigmatic remark: "Beauty will save the world". What sort of a statement is that? For a long time I considered it mere words. How could that be possible? When in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything? Ennobled, uplifted, yes - but whom has it saved?

There is, however, a certain peculiarity in the essence of beauty, a peculiarity in the status of art: namely, the convincingness of a true work of art is completely irrefutable and it forces even an opposing heart to surrender.
Here's an interesting remark relevant to campaign season.
It is possible to compose an outwardly smooth and elegant political speech, a headstrong article, a social program, or a philosophical system on the basis of both a mistake and a lie. What is hidden, what distorted, will not immediately become obvious.

Then a contradictory speech, article, program, a differently constructed philosophy rallies in opposition - and all just as elegant and smooth, and once again it works. Which is why such things are both trusted and mistrusted.

In vain to reiterate what does not reach the heart.

But a work of art bears within itself its own verification: conceptions which are devised or stretched do not stand being portrayed in images, they all come crashing down, appear sickly and pale, convince no one. But those works of art which have scooped up the truth and presented it to us as a living force - they take hold of us, compel us, and nobody ever, not even in ages to come, will appear to refute them.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. Last night my parents were recalling hearing him speak at some hotel in downtown Washington. President Ford wouldn't meet with him, Kissinger's State Dept. wouldn't meet with him and even forbade its employees to hear him speak (imagine!) when he addressed the AFL-CIO. Dad said it was an absolutely thrilling speech, and recalled Solzhenitsyn pacing back and forth restlessly across the stage. Richard Brookhiser calls him the bravest soul of the handful that brought down the Soviet Union. Here's his Harvard commencement speech , A World Split Apart, with audio file! Mr. W. was laughing about how angry that speech made all our elites --it was the moment they turned on Solzhenitsyn and discovered Andrei Sakharov, who was a secular humanist and wouldn't trouble them with a critique of materialism. The headline on Scotty Reston's column fumed, "A Head Split Apart." We mustn't lament him too much, though. Remember this exchange from a Spiegel interview last year.
SPIEGEL: Anyhow, we wish you many years of creative life.
Solzhenitsyn: No, no. Don't. It's enough.