50 Zitate aus … Pearce’ Solschenizyn-Biografie (1)

Der bekannte katholische Biograph Joseph Pearce lässt Alexander Solschenizyn (1918-2008) reichlich zur Sprache kommen. Hier sind 50 Zitate von und über ihn, geordnet nach Lebenetappen. Die Rezension habe ich auf Amazon eingestellt.


(It was) the bloodiest in Russia’s troubled history. It was the destiny of Alexander Solzhenitsyn to live through almost all of them. (135-136)

 (S)tate education was becoming increasingly atheist in nature, and the Christianity of the young boy’s home life began to contrast ever more starkly with the fundamental tenets of what he was being taught at school. (361-362)

Solzhenitsyn bowed under the combined force of peer-group pressure and Soviet propaganda, turning his back on the “reactionary” teaching of his family and embracing Marxist dogma. (401-402)

He was an exceptional pupil, excelling in both the arts and the sciences, encouraged by his mother, who, like her gifted son, had been top of the class as a child. (477-478)

I had no desire to become a teacher of literature, because I had too many complex ideas of my own, and I simply wasn’t interested in retailing crude, simplified nuggets of information to children in school. (554-556)

Solzhenitsyn grieved over “the astonishing swinishness of egotistical youth. . . . We had no sense of living in the midst of a plague, that people were dropping all around us, that a plague was in progress. It’s amazing, but we didn’t realize it.” (645-646)

Solzhenitsyn “must be one of the few bridegrooms in history to have taken Das Kapital on his honeymoon and to have read it…” (859-860)

(He) had lacked upbringing by men. “In the army, I ran away from that.” (991-992)

His experiences as a front-line soldier, stretching back over eighteen months and culminating in the horrific vision of these Prussian nights, had killed off the carefree youth who had married his student girlfriend nearly five years earlier. (1206-1207)


Haft und Exil

(H)e would see how important the arrest and imprisonment had been to the subsequent development of his life and personality. … “because it allowed me to understand Soviet reality in its entirety and not merely the one-sided view I had of it previous to the arrest” (1293ff)

There were discussion groups, games of chess, a limited number of books to read, and all the while his education at the hands of others was continuing. (1696-1697)

(Erste Frau) “After all the years of trials, I could no longer sustain my ‘saintliness’. I began to live a real life.”

From the lifegiving waters—I see      That my faith is restored, O Lord of Creation!      I renounced You, but You stood by me. (2089-2091)

“First comes the fight for survival, then the discovery of life, then God.” (2098-2099)

(The) anger … became the energy, the motive force, behind Solzhenitsyn’s future work. (2190)

He had, almost overnight, been transformed from a hated enemy of the people, a pariah, to a war hero and wise critic of Stalin’s deficiencies. (2378-2379)

Solzhenitsyn now preached a gospel of self-limitation, seeking to live as simply as possible without the glitter and glamor of modern diversions. He insisted that they should not visit the cinema more than twice a month, nor go to concerts or the theater more than once every two months. (2434-2436)

Solzhenitsyn was clearly concerned never to lose sight of the truths he had learned in the camps, never to allow the comforts of life to corrupt him from the purity of the vision he believed he had acquired there. (2458-2460)

The overriding desire to tell the world the full and horrific truth about life in the camps was the passionate pulse at the heart of Solzhenitsyn’s literary vocation. (2501-2503)


Leben und Arbeit bis zur Ausweisung

He feared the worst, and visions of the Gulag flitted like a danse macabre through his mind. Perhaps as an enemy of the people he was about to become a prisoner of the people once again. (2866-2867)

“Solzhenitsyn, with his animated, militant, ideological temperament, is a man of principle.” (3096)

(Zweite Frau Alya) For years, Solzhenitsyn wrote, he had dreamed in vain of finding a male friend whose ideas would be so close to his own. (3163)

(H)e had no desire to leave his Russian homeland for a life of exile in the West. Whatever the future held, he wanted to face it on his native soil. (3339-3340)

Unwittingly, by expelling Solzhenitsyn to the West, his enemies in Russia had opened up a whole new world of research to him, placing powerful new weapons at his disposal. (3783-3785)


Exil in der Schweiz und den USA

(N)ewspapers usually take only what they need. They tear some phrase out of context, destroy all proportion, and distort my ideas. (3962-3963)

His son Ignat regrets that the public image of his father is one of sternness and severity, stating that the “common public impression is entirely inaccurate”. .,. his joie de vivre, his sense of humor, his abilities as a comic and a mimic, were lost on the general public. (4105-4106; 4125-4126)

I utilized a number of different literary devices and switched between genres; prose, citations of documents, overview of the current press, a collection of short fragments of glimpses of the life in the different regions, cinematic scripts, Russian folk sayings embedded in the text. (4336-4338)


Zurück in Russland

To a disillusioned people intent on the path of least resistance, Solzhenitsyn’s solution seemed too much like hard work. (4639-4640)

“Everyone knows his name, but no one reads his books”, wrote Grigori Amelin, a young Moscow critic, in May 1994. (4871-4872)

“It’s better to have him speak than write. He writes such ugly Russian. He is once again what he always was at heart—a provincial schoolteacher.” (4904-4905)