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Alexander Solzhenitsyn
1918 -

Russian author of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch and others, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970


Click here for an essay by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
A person who is not inwardly prepared for the use of violence against him is always weaker than the person committing the violence.

European democracy was originally imbued with a sense of Christian responsibility and self-discipline, but these spiritual principles have been gradually losing their force. Spiritual independence is being pressured on all sides by the dictatorship of self-satisfied vulgarity, of the latest fads, and of group interests.

from From Under the Rubble
A loss of courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days...Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

Jun. 8, 1978 - from his speech "The Exhausted West", delivered at commencement at Harvard University
We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.

from A World Split Apart
It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes. It may even lie on the surface; but we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones.

1973 - from "Peace and Violence" in Solzhenitsyn: A Documentary Record, Leopold Labedz, ed.
Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.

Oct. 01, 1967 - from a letter to three students (published in Solzhenitsyn: A Documentary Record ed. by Leopold Labedz)
In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.

There is one psychological peculiarity in the human being that always strikes one: to shun even the slightest signs of trouble on the outer edge of your existence at times of well-being.

Patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them.

from From Under the Rubble
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.

Truth seldom is pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter.

Jun. 8, 1978 - from his speech "The Exhausted West", delivered at commencement at Harvard University
The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and of course in the United Nations.

Jun. 8, 1978 - from his speech "The Exhausted West", delivered at commencement at Harvard University