portrait of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Quotes of the Day for 11 December 2003 – Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was born at Kislovodsk in Russia's Caucasus Mountains on this day in 1918. Expert in mathematics, he quickly rose to the rank of captain in the Red Army artillery in World War II, but a letter criticizing Stalin in 1945 landed him in prison for the first time, serving eight years until Stalin's death. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970, but though he was allowed to leave he declined because he feared he would not be allowed to return. In 1974, having exposed the Gulag system of work camps, he was exiled to Switzerland, was able to give his lecture to the Nobel committee, and later took up residence in Vermont. His Soviet citizenship was restored in 1990 and he returned in 1994.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart.
     - The Gulag Archipelago

You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything he's no longer in your power - he's free again.

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence. Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle.
     - Nobel Prize lecture, 1974

Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation's heart, the excision of its memory.

For a country to have a great writer is like having a second government. That is why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.

I can say without affectation that I belong to the Russian convict world no less ... than I do to Russian literature. I got my education there, and it will last forever.
     - All from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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