Alexander Solzhenitsyn died yesterday in Moscow at age 89.
You can read all about the author of "One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich" and "The Gulag Archipelago" in the usual places. To DIH's mind the accounts all seem kind of flat.
No one, so far, has written much about the horror of the reports the night Solzhenitsyn was arrested, in 1974. DIH can still hear the deep, mellow voice of the New York Times's broadcaster, sounding shaken beyond belief, when he read the news that night.
As for DIH , she spent the night on the living room sofa, next to the stereo, waking up every ten minutes to see if there was any news, and to pray that the Soviets wouldn't blow the man's brains out, or send him back to the Gulag. I can still hear the arguments everyone made that night: would they really do it? Would they sentence him to Siberia? No, no, they couldnt', he was far too famous by now, imagine the uproar. Imagine the protests. But still... would they do it?
It was a forlorn relief we felt the next morning, when it was announced they had decided to just kick him out of Russia instead.
I was in college when the film of "One Day" came out. I watched it in an auditorium full of coddled American students, who for once were dead silent as the movie played. When it was over my roommate murmured, "Remind me the next time I start to complain."
It's important to remember things like that. It's important to remember Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the countless prisoners Ivan Denisovich represented.