SOLZHENITSYN AND THE SECRET CIRCLE by Olga Carlisle

SOLZHENITSYN AND THE SECRET CIRCLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Until her relationship with Solzhenitsyn collapsed amid mutual recriminations, Olga Carlisle's secret, intimate circle oversaw Western publication of his work. Now she attempts to set the record straight and clear herself of Solzhenitsyn's charge that she delayed the appearance of the American edition of The Gulag Archipelago; had it appeared sooner, he has maintained, his banishment from the Soviet Union would not have been possible. Carlisle, granddaughter of Socialist Revolutionary leader Victor Chernov and author Leonid Andreyev, and herself friend of such noted Soviet literati as Nadezhda Mandelstam and Kornei Chukovsky, seemed ideally suited to act as Solzhenitsyn's agent; as a translator with a Western passport, she passed in and out of Russia at will. The role pitched her into a shadowy world of pirated editions and KGB machinations. She depicts Solzhenitsyn as an immensely complicated figure who, speaking in terms of ""salvos,"" ""explosions,"" and ""engagements,"" believes it his destiny to lead an offensive against an evil Soviet regime. According to Carlisle his autocratic ego and mistrustfulness grew as attacks against him increased. He turned towards the Russian Orthodox faith and shocked Carlisle by condemning Vietnam war protests as a sign of Western moral weakness. While never questioning his literary talent, Carlisle contends that Solzhenitsyn's messianic vision poisoned their relations. The reader must decide for himself whether or not she has represented her dealings with him candidly. Her account is perhaps overly dramatic, subject to an excess of emoting--racing thoughts, sinking hearts, and shaking hands--but it is a revealing glimpse of the circumstances under which much Soviet dissident literature is ""exported"" to the West.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1978
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston