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Alexander Solzhenitsyn

(1918—2008)


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(1918–2008),

Russian prose writer. He joined the Red Army in 1941. Arrested in 1945 for remarks critical of Stalin, he was sent to a labour camp where in 1952 he developed stomach cancer. In 1953 he was released into ‘administrative exile’. In 1956 he returned to Ryazan, in central Russia, to work as a teacher. His first published story, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), caused a sensation through its honest and pioneering description of camp life. His major novels, Cancer Ward (1968) and The First Circle (1969), could only be published abroad, and in late 1969 he was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers. In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. The appearance abroad of the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago (1973–5), an epic ‘history and geography’ of the labour camps, caused the Soviet authorities to deport Solzhenitsyn to West Germany on 13 February 1974. He settled in the United States, where he continued a series of novels begun with August 1914 (1971), offering an alternative picture of Soviet history. He returned to Russia in 1994.

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