Solzhenitsyn and the Modern World

Overview

The story of Solzhenitsyn's reception in the West is almost as dramatic as the story of his life. After being lionized as a literary master and a freedom-fighter, he eventually was judged by many to be reactionary, authoritarian, chauvinistic, anti-democratic, anti-Western - in short, an eccentric extremist. Solzhenitsyn and the Modern World challenges the prevailing Western view of Solzhenitsyn. In a time when the collapse of Soviet Communism demands reassessment of many received opinions, Solzhenitsyn merits ...
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Overview

The story of Solzhenitsyn's reception in the West is almost as dramatic as the story of his life. After being lionized as a literary master and a freedom-fighter, he eventually was judged by many to be reactionary, authoritarian, chauvinistic, anti-democratic, anti-Western - in short, an eccentric extremist. Solzhenitsyn and the Modern World challenges the prevailing Western view of Solzhenitsyn. In a time when the collapse of Soviet Communism demands reassessment of many received opinions, Solzhenitsyn merits reappraisal as well. Although his primary contribution is literary, the chief obstacle to an appreciation of his works is the misperception of his fundamental views about the world, and particularly the modern world, as they are expressed in his essays. Solzhenitsyn's Christian faith underlies all of his thinking. It gives rise to his moral vision out of which grow all of his ideas about politics and public life. A careful reading of his essays shows Solzhenitsyn to be a Russian patriot who freely draws upon traditional Western values; a democrat with moderate, centrist tendencies; and a man who, far from being a Jeremiah figure, is deeply imbued with hope for the future of his nation and of the world. After a brief introductory call for a reassessment of Solzhenitsyn, Solzhenitsyn and the Modern World outlines his view of the moral universe and traces in detail his reception among Western critics. Ericson explains Solzhenitsyn's views on the West, democracy, and nationalism, topics about which there has been great confusion, and analyzes thoroughly his most politically programmatic essays, "Letter to the Soviet Leaders" and "Rebuilding Russia." He concludes by outlining how Solzhenitsyn has influenced the modern world and has helped point the way toward a more hopeful and humane future.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ericson argues that Russian novelist Aleksander Solzhenitsyn's moral vision, rooted in a ``Christian universalism'' that emphasizes individual responsibility and personal transformation, is profoundly relevant to the modern world. The prevailing Western view of him as an anti-democratic, anti-Western reactionary is wrong, insists Ericson ( Solzhenitsyn: A Moral Vision ). Solzhenitsyn saw a basic continuity between Lenin and Stalin in their brutal, totalitarian rule. This position is more tenable and credible today than most scholars once acknowledged, Ericson stresses. The publication of Solzhenitsyn's Rebuilding Russia (1990) leaves no doubt, he adds, that the Russian emigre writer is a proponent of grass-roots, decentralized democracy and a free-market economy. While this dense study does not entirely dispel the image of Solzhenitsyn as a messianic Russian nationalist, it is nevertheless a suggestive, rewarding reassessment of his work. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In chapter after detailed chapter, Ericson ( Solzhenitsyn: A Moral Vision , LJ 1/1/80) chips away at the prevailing Western view of his subject as antidemocratic, anti-Western, hypernationalistic, and messianic. Ericson focuses here on the significance of Solzhenitsyn's ideas for the contemporary world and the ways in which those ideas have been inaccurately portrayed and, consequently, debased. He focuses, too, on Solzhenitsyn's prescience regarding the demise of Communism and the restorative qualities of his Christian world view. This is by no means a literary interpretation; primary reference is to Solzhenitsyn's nonfiction sources. Despite Ericson's frequent conservative biases, he provides useful reassessment of a 20th-century giant. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-- Mark R. Yerburgh, Fern Ridge Community Lib., Veneta, Ore.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780895265012
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Incorporated, An Eagle Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/25/1993
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction - A Call for Reassessment 3
2 The Moral Universe 21
3 Western Critics (I) - To 1973 46
4 Western Critics (II) - From 1974 to 1977 72
5 Western Critics (III) - From 1978 98
6 On the West 126
7 On Democracy 155
8 On Nationalism 175
9 "Letter to the Soviet Leaders" 213
10 "Rebuilding Russia" (I) - An Overview 251
11 "Rebuilding Russia" (II) - First Priorities 275
12 "Rebuilding Russia" (III) - Looking Ahead 302
13 Conclusion - Influence 331
Notes 371
Works Cited 407
Permissions 422
Index 423
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