Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date read: August, 2005
Read count: 3
Growing up, this was one of my favorite books. People always think it’s weird once I say that, and I agree, it is weird. But I grew up in a unusual household that appreciated all forms of Soviet literary dissonance. My father was a big fan of any text that criticized Communism down to the very last detail, and no surprise, Solzhenitsyn was–still is–one of his favorite authors, along with many others. He and I used to discuss these texts extensively; these were some of the most memorable moments of my childhood. And that’s why I can never give an objective review of this particular book because, no matter how skewed the subject matter, it would always remain a favorite.
It wasn’t until years later that I learned Solzhenitsyn was a an anti-semite, and he’d published a series of “critical” essays spouting his brand of anti-semitism. Dad and I took a huge step back from Solzhenitsyn’s books at that point and we don’t read him again, but would occasionally discuss things related to his books when/if they come up.
Solzhenitsyn will always remain a powerful critical voice in Soviet literature, but his personal views shouldn’t be ignored. There are people who can separate the author from his/her work; I’m not one of those people. To each their own, however I hope readers don’t overlook Solzhenitsyn’s essays and call them a fluke.