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INVISIBLE ALLIES by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1887178422
Publisher: Counterpoint

A portion of Solzhenitsyn's memoir, The Oak and the Calf (1980), that could not be published originally because it reveals his allies in the Soviet Union and how he managed to get his writings out of the country. Solzhenitsyn was convinced from the first of the importance of what he was writing and of its ability to hurt the communist system. Here he gives us some idea of the desperate energy with which he worked. Of The Gulag Archipelago he writes, "It even seemed as if it was no longer I who was writing; rather, I was swept along, my hand was being moved by an outside force." But he also makes it clear that his efforts would have been fruitless without the many people (he mentions more than 100 by name) who, at risk to their freedom, their careers, and in some cases their lives, worked selflessly to help him. He tells of the fear that ruled their days and the precautions that became part of their being; of the ways in which they typed, hid, and ultimately spirited abroad the various manuscripts that then burst upon the world. He is particularly interesting in his analysis of his appeal to the public at large, which in the late 1960s was almost complete, such was the revulsion against the system; he lost much of his popularity as his own aims, including his religious feelings, became more apparent. He chronicles his initial ignorance of Western journalism and his slowly growing comprehension as to how journalists could help in his struggle against the Soviet Union. But for all its heroism and insight, of all Solzhenitsyn's books this may be the least satisfactory: His respect for those who helped him and his own reticence on personal matters join to make it perhaps the closest thing he has ever written to socialist realist odes to heroic tractor drivers.