On This Day

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Writer and Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Profession: Writer and Nobel Laureate

Nationality:
Russia
Russian
Soviet Union
Soviet

Why Famous: Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a Russian writer, known in particular for his opposition to the Soviet Union. Most famously, he wrote 'The Gulag Archipelago' which detailed the Soviet system of scattered prisons and labour camps in which countless citizens were stowed by the regime.

For his dissident writing, Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Union of Writers in 1969 only to be awarded the 1970 Nobel prize in literature. He only received this award in 1974 after he was ultimately expelled from the Soviet Union.

Solzhenitsyn's writing drew on his own experiences under the Soviet regime. He had, for instance, spent eight years in labour camps for criticising Stalin in a letter. And his 'Cancer Ward' was informed by his experience after being diagnosed with what was thought to be terminal cancer.

It was these experiences—his time in exile and labour camps, and perhaps especially his terminal diagnosis—that led Solzhenitsyn back to his Orthodox Christian faith, which he credited with his apparently miraculous recovery. He summarised the world's problems thus: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened."

Born: December 11, 1918
Birthplace: Kislovodsk, Russia

Generation: Greatest Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Horse
Star Sign: Sagittarius

Died: August 3, 2008 (aged 89)
Cause of Death: Heart failure

Married Life

  • 1940-04-07 Writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (21) weds Natalya Reshetovskaya

Historical Events

  • 1969-11-12 Author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn expelled from the Soviet Writers Union
  • 1970-10-08 Soviet author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wins the Nobel Prize for Literature
  • 1970-12-10 Soviet novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn chooses not to claim his Nobel Prize in Literature for fear that the USSR would prevent his return afterwards. Accepts in 1974 after he was deported.
  • 1973-12-28 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn publishes "Gulag Archipelago" - a literary investigation of the police-state system in the Soviet Union
  • 1974-02-13 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist and historian, is deported from the Soviet Union to Frankfurt, West Germany and stripped of his Soviet citizenship
  • 1974-09-19 The KGB begin a large-scale operation to discredit Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and cut his communications with Soviet dissidents
  • 1994-05-27 Writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returns to Russia after 20 years in exile
  • 2007-06-12 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist and historian, is awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation for his humanitarian work by President Putin

Quotes by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  • "We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable."