SOLZHENITSYN IN EXILE: Critical Essays and Documentary Materials by John B.; Richard S. Haugh & Michael Nicholson--Eds. Dunlop

SOLZHENITSYN IN EXILE: Critical Essays and Documentary Materials

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of narrowly ideological, unscholarly essays. Most contributors here flatly attack anyone who criticizes Solzhenitsyn's politics and charge that those who don't appreciate his literary qualities do so because they disagree with his political views. But the contributors use the same political standard. As co-editor Dunlop writes in one piece: ""The issue which most clearly separates Solzhenitsyn's admirers from his detractors is his view of how the United States should deal with the Soviet Union. . .I concur with [Solzhenitsyn's] view that only firmness will impress the Soviet leadership."" Solzhenitsyn's well-known criticisms of the West (that it is morally weak, flawed by the decline in religious belief, etc.) are dealt with obliquely here, mainly by ridiculing the opposition. Robert Conquest (The Great Terror), referring to what he calls the ""liberal press"" in Britain, states: ""It is surprising that [Solzhenitsyn] doesn't go a good deal further in a diagnosis of extreme decadence, if he has relied on most of our self-appointed leaders of opinion."" Others attribute Solzhenitsyn's poor reception to his self-assuredness. Rarely is it noted that Solzhenitsyn's anti-communism is so strong that, for example, he heartily approves of Pinochet's coup in Chile and lambasts the US's ""hasty Vietnam capitulation."" Solzhenitsyn speaks here at length only as a literary figure--about his Red Wheel series on the Russian Revolution. His only other appearance is in a short, vituperative exchange with Boris Souvarine about Lenin in Zurich that, typically, is edited to favor Solzhenitsyn (it omits Souvarine's original essay to which Solzhenitsyn responds). One bright spot is Lidiia Chukovskaia's recollection of Solzhenitsyn's last few months before his expulsion to the West. Other literary essays are marred by their simplistic political basis: i.e., the chronicler of Soviet horrors cannot be anything but a superb writer. Unwittingly, Birgit Meyer's piece about the German reception of Sol. zhenitsyn provides apt commentary on this collection. She notes that after his 1974 deportation, Solzhenitsyn ""soon became just one more factor in the political deliberations of the West. . .which eventually became an autonomous dispute over political nuances and lines of demarcation.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1985
ISBN: 0817980512
Publisher: Hoover Institution Press