The Russian author and historian, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has written a number of major novels based on his own experience of Soviet prisons, the most famous being The Gulag Archipelago (1973-1978). Descended from an intellectual Cossack family, he was serving in the East Prussian military when he was arrested for criticizing Joseph Stalin in private correspondence with a friend and sentenced to an eight-year term in a labor camp. He was imprisoned from 1945 to 1953, followed by permanent internal exile. Through his writings, he made the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet labor camp system, and, for these efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. He was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974 but returned in 1994 and now lives with his wife, Natalia in Moscow. He has continued to criticize western materialism and Russian bureaucracy and secularization. Solzhenitsyn is the oldest living Nobel laureate in literature.

“Do not pursue what is illusory – property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade and can be confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life – don’t be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn after happiness; it is after all, all the same: the bitter doesn’t last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing.”

“Not everything has a name. Some things lead us into a realm beyond words.”

“When truth is discovered by someone else, it loses something of its attractiveness.”

“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power- he’s free again.”

“Blow the dust off the clock. Your watches are behind the times. Throw open the heavy curtains which are so dear to you- you do not even suspect that the day has already dawned outside.”

“Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.”

“Generosity is a two-edged virtue for an artist – it nourishes his imagination but has a fatal effect on his routine.”

“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”

“It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes… we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions – especially selfish ones.”

“Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle.”

“It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes… we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions – especially selfish ones.”

“Our envy of others devours us most of all.”

“If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?”

– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918- )

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