Municipal educational establishment “High school with a profound study of the English language № 27 ”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Student: Marina Telegina.

Form: 11”B”

Teacher: Solodkov V.V.

Angarsk, 2002


Plan. 1

Introduction. 2

Main part. 3

1. Biography. 3

2. Master’s works. 8

3. The Cancer Ward. 9

Conclusion. 11

Literature. 12


"Who else, if not writers,

can censure not only their faulty

rulers but society at large?"

Solzhenitsyn (From Nobel lecture)

"We lived next door but did not understand that she was the upright person no settlement can do without. Nor can a city. Nor the entire land..."

This excerpt from the famous short story "Matriona's Home" about a peasant woman who gave shelter to the writer in the 1950s perfectly applies to the writer himself. A teacher in the broadest sense of the word, a human rights activist and a righteous man, whose principle has always been to live without lies.

Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970 "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature." Active member of Russian Academy of Sciences (1997).

Alexander Solzhenitsyn is now 84. "A legend of the 20th century, martyr and hero," thus the outstanding Russian scholar Dmitry Likhachyov described Solzhenitsyn once. For us Solzhenitsyn is not simply a great writer but rather the nation's conscience whose word strikes you not only by its artistic value but by its message of truth. This truth is all the more impressing since the writer's word and life are never at varience. They complement each other. Today we came to realize that the writer's most outstanding "work" is his own life.

"Longevity was given to me. 80 years is a longevity. At this age you have new opportunities. You can look back at your life and open something in it that you could not notice and understand while you were on the run. For a larger part of our lives we act, and action interferes with our ability to take a quiet look at things. An old age gives some scope to your soul, a chance to evaluate your deeds."

Main part.

1. Biography.

One of the leading Russian writers of the 20th century, Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, was born in Kislovodsk, on the 11th of December 1918 in a family of Cossack intellectuals and brought up primarily by his mother. His father had studied philological subjects at Moscow University, but did not complete his studies, as he enlisted as a volunteer when war broke out in 1914. He became an artillery officer on the German front, fought throughout the war and died in the summer of 1918, six months before his son was born. Alexander was brought up by his mother, who worked as a shorthand typist, in the town of Rostov-on-Don, where he spent the whole of his childhood and youth, leaving the grammar school there in 1936. Even as a child, without any prompting from others, he wanted to be a writer and, indeed, he turned out a good deal of the usual juvenilia. In the 1930s, he tried to get his writings published but he could not find anyone willing to accept his manuscripts. He wanted to acquire a literary education, but in Rostov such an education that would suit his wishes was not to be obtained. To move to Moscow was not possible, partly because his mother was alone and in poor health, and partly because of their modest circumstances.

Solzhenitsyn therefore began to study at the Department of Mathematics at Rostov University, where it proved that he had considerable aptitude for mathematics. But although he found it easy to learn this subject, he did not feel that he wished to devote his whole life to it. Nevertheless, it was to play a beneficial role in his destiny later on, and on at least two occasions, it rescued him from death. For he would probably not have survived the eight years in camps if he had not, as a mathematician, been transferred to a so-called sharashia, where he spent four years; and later, during his exile, he was allowed to teach mathematics and physics, which helped to ease his existence and made it possible for him to write. If he had had a literary education it is quite likely that he should not have survived these ordeals but would instead have been subjected to even greater pressures. Later on, it is true, Alexander Isayevich began to get some literary education as well; this was from 1939 to 1941, during which time, along with university studies in physics and mathematics, he also studied by correspondence at the Institute of History, Philosophy and Literature in Moscow.

In 1941, a few days before the outbreak of the war, Solzhenitsyn graduated from the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Rostov University. At the beginning of the war, owing to weak health, he was detailed to serve as a driver of horsedrawn vehicles during the winter of 1941-1942. Later, because of his mathematical knowledge, he was transferred to an artillery school, from which, after a crash course, he passed out in November 1942. Immediately after this he was put in command of an artillery-position-finding company, and in this capacity, served, without a break, right in the front line until he was arrested in February 1945. This happened in East Prussia, a region which is linked with his destiny in a remarkable way. As early as 1937, as a first-year student, he chose to write a descriptive essay on "The Samsonov Disaster" of 1914 in East Prussia and studied material on this; and in 1945 he himself went to this area (at the time of writing, autumn 1970, the book August 1914 has just been completed).

Solzhenitsyn was arrested on the grounds of what the censorship had found during the years 1944-1945 in his correspondence with a school friend, mainly because of certain disrespectful remarks about Stalin, although they referred to him in disguised terms. As a further basis for the "charge", there were used the drafts of stories and reflections which had been found in his map case. These, however, were not sufficient for a "prosecution", and in July 1945 he was "sentenced" in his absence, in accordance with a procedure then frequently applied, after a resolution by the OSO (the Special Committee of the NKVD), to eight years in a detention camp (at that time this was considered a mild sentence).

Solzhenitsyn served the first part of my sentence in several correctional work camps of mixed types (this kind of camp is described in the play, The Tenderfoot and the Tramp). In 1946, as a mathematician, he was transferred to the group of scientific research institutes of the MVD-MOB (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of State Security). He spent the middle period of his sentence in such "SPECIAL PRISONS" (The First Circle). In 1950 he was sent to the newly established "Special Camps" which were intended only for political prisoners. In such a camp in the town of Ekibastuz in Kazakhstan (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich), he worked as a miner, a bricklayer, and a foundryman. There he contracted a tumour, which was operated on, but the condition was not cured (its character was not established until later on).

One month after he had served the full term of his eight-year sentence, there came, without any new judgement and even without a "resolution from the OSO", an administrative decision to the effect that he was not to be released but EXILED FOR LIFE to Kok-Terek (southern Kazakhstan). This measure was not directed specially against him, but was a very usual procedure at that time. He served this exile from March 1953 (on March 5th, when Stalin's death was made public, he was allowed for the first time to go out without an escort) until June 1956. Here his cancer had developed rapidly, and at the end of 1953, he was very near death. He was unable to eat; he could not sleep and was severely affected by the poisons from the tumour. However, he was able to go to a cancer clinic at Tashkent, where, during 1954, he was cured (The Cancer Ward, Right Hand).

During all the years of exile, Solzhenitsyn taught mathematics and physics in a primary school and during his hard and lonely existence he wrote prose in secret (in the camp he could only write down poetry from memory). He managed, however, to keep what he had written, and to take it with him to the European part of the country, where, in the same way, he continued, as far as the outer world was concerned, to occupy himself with teaching and, in secret, to devote himself to writing, at first in the Vladimir district (Matryona's Farm) and afterwards in Ryazan.

During all the years until 1961, not only was he convinced that he should never see a single line of him in print in his lifetime, but, also, he scarcely dared allow any of his close acquaintances to read anything he had written because he feared that this would become known. Finally, at the age of 42, this secret authorship began to wear him down. The most difficult thing of all to bear was that he could not get his works judged by people with literary training. In 1961, after the 22nd Congress of the U.S.S.R. Communist Party and Tvardovsky's speech at this, he decided to emerge and to offer One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

Such an emergence seemed, then, to Solzhenitsyn, and not without reason, to be very risky because it might lead to the loss of his manuscripts, and to his own destruction. But, on that occasion, things turned out successfully, and after protracted efforts, A.T. Tvardovsky was able to print his novel one year later. The printing of his work was, however, stopped almost immediately and the authorities stopped both his plays and (in 1964) the novel, The First Circle, which, in 1965, was seized together with his papers from the past years. During these months it seemed to him that he had committed an unpardonable mistake by revealing his work prematurely and that because of this he should not be able to carry it to a conclusion. After 1966, his work was not published in the Soviet Union for many years.

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