(1955 – 1968)
All these circumstances-war, camp, Stalin’s death in 1953, and Khrushchov’s report on the tragic consequences of Stalin’s cult of personality at the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956-should be taken into account as facts of Solzhenitsyn’s spiritual biography. He took them much deeper than many others.
The first Solzhenitsyn’s works published in the early 1960s – the story One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), the story Matryon’s Dvor (1963) – appeared at the end of Khrushchev’s thaw, on the eve of a period of stagnation. In addition, other stories of the writer were published: “The Case at Kochetovka Station” (1963), “Zakhar-Kalita” (1966), “Kroschotki” (1966). Solzhenitsyn began to be called, on the one hand, a writer of “camp” prose, and on the other – prose “village.” The author himself once remarked that he rarely addressed the genre of the story, “for artistic pleasure”: “In a small form one can put a lot, and it is a great pleasure for the artist to work on a small form.
The story “One day of Ivan Denisovich” was originally called “Sh-854 (one day of one convict)”. No matter how much you write about the camp life, you can not forget the column of people in jackets, with portraits on their faces from the icy wind with narrow slits for eyes, barracks,
“… And the column came out into the steppe, directly against the wind and against the blushing sunrise. Naked snow lay to the edge, to the right and to the left, and there was not a single tree in the whole steppe.”
A new year began, the fifty-first, and Shukhov had the right to two letters… “
In the story, the reader encounters a multitude of vivid human consciousness, with a polyphony of thoughts and voices. Ivan Denisovich, for example, can not but ridicule, albeit gently, Alyosha the Baptist and his appeal: “Out of all earthly and mortal prayers, the Lord bequeathed us only about daily bread: Give us today’s bread!”
“Pike, then?” Asked Shukhov ” .
With sympathy, Shukhov watches the riot of the captain of the second rank of Buinovsky against the guards, but he does not hide his doubt: will he break down. Shukhov is close to Brigadier Tyurin with his clever independence, prudent obedience to fate, distrust of the phrase.
In a small space of the story, many human destinies, previously far apart, are combined. Time (one day) as it flows into the camp space, spreads over the snowy expanse. It flows (along with the movement of the column) along the road, is compressed, compacted to the bottleneck on the bunks. This art of compression, concentration – a remarkable achievement of the writer. It is due to the fact that the source of the movement in the story was a specific human character.
In 1962, the domestic reader did not yet know Solzhenitsyn’s novel “In the First Circle” (1955-1968). This is a novel about the stay of the hero – intellectual Nerzhin – in a closed research institute, in “sharashka.” Here in conversations with other prisoners: with critic Lev Rubin, engineer and philosopher Sologdin – Nerzhin long and painfully finds out: who in a servile society is less likely to live by lying? These all-knowing intellectuals or yesterday’s peasant Spiridon, a janitor on the same “sharashka”? After sharp, deep disputes Nerzhin arrives at the idea that, perhaps, Spiridon, who does not understand the many vicissitudes of history and his fate, lived nevertheless more naively and purerly, morally, and more sincerely.
The old woman Matryona from the story “Matrenin yard” with her disinterestedness, inability to offend the world – and he not only offended him, robbed him, but also destroyed it – the predecessor of the old women of the righteousness of V. Rasputin’s novel “The Last Duration” and “Farewell to Matera” , a grandmother from V. Astafiev’s book “The Last Bow” (see “Matrenin Yard”).
“The Gulag Archipelago” (1958-1968), the author himself figuratively defined as “petrified our tear.” In this work attracts not only the richness of spoken intonations, shades of sarcasm and irony. The most important thing is that in the style of the writer, the mosaic nature of the glued pieces prevails. The meaning of differently directed throwing, rapid rolls in different directions – in two author’s conclusions. On the one hand, the “Gulag” is a petrified tear, it is an indictment. And on the other hand, this is a book about collective, not yet washed away sin. Here all the victims and accomplices – and the same Krylenko, Raskolnikov, Dybenko, Gorky, and gullible peasants who blindly burned the libraries of the nobility and killed the Junkers in 1917, and in the years of collectivization made up the largest stream of exiles. From the chain of “ripples” Solzhenitsyn’s troubled thought ripens about the personal salvation of him from the inner “dustiness”, the greasiness of the soul with lies and vulgarity of complacency. The writer comes to his favorite idea of victory over evil through the sacrifice, through non-participation, albeit painful, in lies. In the final of his book, Solzhenitsyn says thanking the prison, so cruelly connected it with the people who made him involved in the people’s fate: “Thank you, prison, that you were in my life.”
Solzhenitsyn becomes “in opposition not so much to this or that political system as to the false moral foundations of society.” He seeks to return to eternal moral concepts their deep, primordial significance. The writer continues one of the central humanistic lines of Russian classical literature – the idea of a moral ideal, inner freedom and independence, even with external oppression, the idea of moral perfection of each. In this he sees national salvation. He also conducts the same thought in his seemingly most “political”, accusatory book, The Gulag Archipelago: “… the line dividing good and evil does not pass between states, not between classes, or between parties, it passes through every human heart – and through all human hearts… “
In a small article “To live not according to lies!” in an open journalistic form, the writer calls to live according to conscience, to live in truth. “We are so hopelessly human that we will give up all the principles, our soul, all the efforts of our ancestors, all the possibilities for our descendants for the modest feeder today, so as not to upset our fragile existence.” There was no hardness, no pride, no warmth ” . “So the circle – closed? And exit – really not?” The author believes in the opposite, being convinced that “the simplest, most accessible key to our liberation: personal non-participation in lies! Let the lie cover everything, let everyone lie in everything, but in the smallest we shall rest: let him not through me!”
In a lecture on the occasion of the awarding of the Solzhenitsyn-Nobel Prize (1970), he develops this idea, proving that writers and artists are even more accessible – to defeat lies. The writer finished his speech with a Russian proverb: “One word of truth the whole world will overtake.”
Solzhenitsynskaya’s truth is tough, sometimes ruthless. But, as S. Zalygin correctly notes in this regard, “in our domestic context, our now-current expression” To face the truth “is really the same as” looking into the eyes of suffering. “This is our story.”