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  • Earlier this year, I was invited by Nick Skidmore, editor of Vintage Classics at Penguin, to write the forward to the 50th anniversary edition of the single volume, abridged version of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago.

  • This was perhaps the single greatest honor that has ever befalling me, given the historical importance of soldiers in its Sins book as well as its great personal impact on me, the Gulag Archipelago in its full form.

  • It was a three volume text originally written between 1958 in 1968.

  • It first saw publication in 1973 and was translated into English a year later.

  • It describes life in the Soviet forced labor camp system, the Goo Leg through a narrative compiled from interviews, personal statements from inmates, diaries, legal and historical documents and the author's own experience as a gulag prisoner.

  • Following its appearance, the books circulated underground in the Soviet Union until it's formal publication in 1989 in the literary journal Novi Mirror, which published 1/3 of the work and three issues Since the Soviet Union dissolved, the entire book has been published and has been made mandatory reading in the Russian school curriculum.

  • The 50th anniversary edition is slated for release November 1st 2000 and 18.

  • Here's a brief biography of the author Alexander Solzhenitsyn from the book.

  • Solzhenitsyn was born in 1918 and grew up in raw stove on dawn.

  • He graduated in physics and mathematics from roster of university and studied literature by correspondence course at Moscow University.

  • In World War Two, he fought as an artillery officer, attaining the rank of captain in 1945.

  • However, after making derogatory remarks about Stalin in the letter, he was arrested and summarily sentenced to eight years in forced labor camps, followed by internal exile.

  • In 1957 he was formally rehabilitated and settled down to teaching and writing.

  • Here's a description of the book.

  • From the back cover, he officially approved Abridgment of the Gulag Archipelago Volumes 12 and three.

  • A vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centers and secret police of informers and spies and interrogators, but also of everyday heroism.

  • The Gulag Archipelago is Alexander Solzhenitsyn's grandmaster work, based on the testimony of some 200 survivors and on the recollection of soldier knits and zone 11 years in labor camps in exile.

  • It chronicles the story of those at the heart of the Soviet Union who opposed Stalin and for whom the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair, a thoroughly researched document and a feat of literary and imaginative power, this edition of The Gulag Archipelago was abridged into one volume at the authors wish and with his full cooperation.

  • Doris Lessing, 1919 to 2013.

  • A British novelist, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer and winner of the 2000 and seven Nobel Prize for literature, says of the Gulag Archipelago, it helped to bring down an empire.

  • Its importance can hardly be exaggerated.

  • This is Solzhenitsyn's own forward to the original abridgment.

  • I dedicate this to all those who did not live to tell it, and may they please forgive me for not having seen it all, nor remembered at all for not having divined it all.

  • If it were possible for any nation to fathom another people's bitter experience through a book, how much easier it's future fate would become and how many calamities and mistakes it could avoid.

  • But it is very difficult.

  • There always is this fallacious belief.

  • It would not be the same here.

  • Here.

  • Such things are impossible.

  • Alas, all the evil of the 20th century is possible everywhere on Earth.

  • Yet I have not given up all hope that human beings and nations may be able, in spite of all toe, learn from the experience of other people without having to live through it personally.

  • Therefore, I gratefully accept Professor Erickson suggestion to create a one volume abridgment of my three volume work to go like Archipelago in order to facilitate its reading.

  • For those who do not have much time in this hectic century of ours, I think Professor Erickson, for his generous initiative as well as for the tactful nous, the literary taste and the understanding of Western readers, which he displayed during the work on the abridgment.

  • Ed Wordy Erickson Jr.

  • 1939 to 2017 who served as the editor of the Bridge single volume version of The Gulag Archipelago, was professor emeritus of English at Calvin College and the author of many other books, including The Soldier in its and Reader.

  • The apocalyptic vision of Mikhail Bulgakov is the Master and Margarita and the Soul and Barbed Wire, an introduction to soldier Nitsa This is what he had to say when he introduced the abridged version.

  • In 1994 after 20 years of forced exile in the West, Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia.

  • At one town meeting held on his Trans Siberian whistle stop tour to re acquaint himself with his homeland.

  • He was confronted by this rebuke.

  • It is you and your writing that started it all and brought our country to the verge of collapse and devastation.

  • Russia doesn't need you.

  • So go back to your blessed America.

  • Soldier knits and instantly replied that to his dying day he would keep fighting against the evil ideology that was capable of slaying 1/3 of his country's population.

  • The meeting erupted in applause.

  • That sort of exchange was unimaginable when the present abridgment of the Gulag Archipelago first appeared in 1985.

  • Almost no one expected then that within a few years the Soviet Union would collapse and almost in a day like the legendary one horse Shay.

  • Yet now the dramatic events that put the closing punctuation mark on the Soviet parentheses in Russian history have also, we may say, brought an end to what the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova called the true 20th century this for shortened century.

  • Running from 1914 to 1917 to 1989 90 91 was the era when utopian dreams rooted enlightenment.

  • Optimism came to rely on brute force to make ideological schemes prevail.

  • The 20th century is proven, in quantitative terms, at least the most murderous in human history.

  • As governments killed their subjects at record rates for decades, the word Holocaust served a shorthand for modern man's inhumanity demand.

  • Then one lone man added a second such term gulag, which now appears in dictionaries as a common noun soldier.

  • Nixon was one of the precious few who did anticipate the demise of the Soviet experiment, and he thought his book would help.

  • Oh yes, Gulag was destined to affect the course of history.

  • I was sure of that.

  • On one of his darkest days, February 12th 1974 the day before he was forced into exile and precisely because the gulag had appeared in the West, he mused, You Bolsheviks air finished.

  • There are no two ways about it, what satisfaction he felt then, when some early reviews, such as one from the Frankfurter Elga main a leading German newspaper, caught his intentions.

  • The time may come when we date the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet system from the appearance of gulag.

  • American diplomat and scholar George F.

  • Kennan hailed the work as the greatest and most powerful single indictment of a political regime ever to be leveled in modern times, one sure to stick in the craw of the Soviet propaganda machine with increasing discomfort until it is done.

  • Its work soldier Nixon has proven precedent on other matters as well.

  • Not only did he reiterate in the teeth of the prevailing opinion of Western specialists on Soviet affairs, that he was absolutely convinced that communism will go.

  • He also insisted, most resolutely and against all seeming reason that he expected to be reunited with his beloved Russia.

  • In a strange way, I not only hope I'm inwardly convinced that I shall go back.

  • I mean, my physical return, not just my books, and that contradicts all rationality.

  • His improbable prerequisites were that his citizenship be restored, that the charge of treason against him be dropped and that all his books be published in his homeland.

  • After his prophecies were fulfilled, a friend of his reminisced.

  • It seemed crazy to me at the time, but it was a real conviction, a poets knowledge he sees the man sees.

  • However, historians ultimately apportioned the credit for ending the Cold War.

  • Soldier knits and indubitably played a part in bringing the Soviet edifice down to rubble.

  • His writings de legitimized communism in his homeland and discredited it abroad.

  • He was much too modest in depicting himself as a little caf, foolishly butting a mighty oak and thinking this could bring it down, as David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, declares, in terms of the effect he has had on history.

  • So she knits and is the dominant writer of the century.

  • Who else compares Orwell?

  • Kessler Remnick concludes that to some extent you have to credit the literary works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn with helping to bring down the last empire on Earth.

  • So after that introductory material, my forward.

  • It begins with an excerpt from the speech delivered by Soldier Nets into the Swedish Academy on the occasion of his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for literature.

  • Once we have taken up the word it is, they're after impossible to turn away, a writer is no detached judge of his countrymen and contemporaries.

  • He is an accomplice to all the evil committed in this country or by his people.

  • And if the tanks of his fatherland have bloodied the pavement of a foreign capital than rust, colored stains have forever be spattered the writer's face.

  • And if on some fateful night a trusting friend is strangled in his sleep, then the palms of the writer bear the bruises from that rope and of his youthful fellow citizens nonchalantly proclaimed the advantages of debauchery over humble toil.

  • If they abandon themselves to drugs or seize hostages, then this stench to is mingled with the breath of the writer.

  • Have we the insolence to declare that we do not answer for the evils of today's world?

  • The simple act of unordinary brave man is not to participate in lies, not to support false actions.

  • His rule.

  • Let that come into the world.

  • Let it even reign supreme, only not through me.

  • But it is within the power of writers and artists to do much more to defeat the lie for in the struggle with lies.

  • Art has always triumphed, and shell always triumph, visibly irrefutably for all lies can prevail against much in this world, but never against art.

  • One word of truth show outweigh the whole world.

  • First you defend your homeland against the Nazis, serving as a twice decorated soldier on the eastern front in the criminally ill prepared Soviet Red Army.

  • Then you're arrested, humiliated, stripped of your military rank, charged under the auspices of the all purpose Article 58 with the dissemination of anti Soviet propaganda and dragged off to Moscow's infamous Lubyanka prison.

  • There, through the bars of your cell, you watch your beloved country celebrating its victory in the Great Patriotic War.

  • Then you're sentenced in absentia to eight years of hard labor.

  • But you got away easy.

  • It wasn't so long afterward that people in your position were awarded a tenner and then 1/4 of a century.

  • And fate isn't finished with you yet.

  • Not by any means.

  • You develop a deadly cancer in the camp, endure the exile imposed on you after your imprisonment ends and passed very close to death.

  • Despite all this, you hold your head high.

  • He refused to turn against man or God.

  • Although you have every reason to do so.

  • You write instead secretly at night, documenting your terrible experiences.

  • You craft a personal memoir, a single day in the labor camps and miracle of miracles.

  • The clouds part the sun shines through Your book is published and in your own country it meets with unparalleled acclaim nationally and internationally.

  • But the sky darkens once again and the sun disappears.

  • The repression returns.

  • You become once again a known person.

  • The secret police.

  • The dread KGB sees the manuscript of your next book.

  • It sees the light of day nonetheless.

  • But only in the West they're your reputation grows beyond the wildest of imaginings.

  • The Nobel Committee itself Bastos upon you, its highest literary owner.

  • The Soviet authorities, stripped of their camouflage, are enraged.

  • They order the secret police to poison you.

  • You pass once again near death, but you continue to write driven, solitary, intolerably inspired.

  • You're Gulag Archipelago documents the absolute and utter corruption of the dogmas and doctrines of your state, your empire, your leaders and yourself.

  • And then that is printed too.

  • Not in your own country, but in the west, once again, from copies oh so dangerously hidden and smuggled across the borders and your great book bursts with unparalleled and dreadful force into the still naive and un expecting literary and intellectual world.

  • You're expelled from the Soviet Union, stripped of your citizenship, forced to take residency in a society both strange to you and resistant in its own way to your prophetic words.

  • But the power of your stories and the strength of your morals demolish any remaining claims to ethical and philosophical credibility still made by the defenders of the collectivist system that gave rise to all that you witnessed years pass, but not so many from the perspective of history.

  • Then another miracle.

  • The Soviet Union collapses.

  • You return home, your citizenship is restored.

  • You write and speak and your reclaimed homeland until death claims you in 2000 and eight.

  • A year later, the Gulag Archipelago is deemed mandatory reading by those responsible for establishing the national school curriculum of your home country.

  • You're impossible.

  • Victory is complete.

  • The three volumes of the Gulag Archipelago, one continuous extended scream of outrage are paradoxically brilliant.

  • Bidder, disbelieving and infused with awe, are at the strength, characterizing the best among us in the worst of all situations.

  • In that monumental text published in 1973 Alexander Solzhenitsyn conducted an experiment in literary investigation.

  • Ah, hybrid of journalism, history and biography, unlike anything ever written before or since.

  • In 1985 the author bestowed his approval upon Edward E.

  • Erickson Jr single volume abridgment republished here on the 50th anniversary of the completion of the full three volume addition and Centenary of the author's birth and sold some 30 million copies in 35 languages between the pages of Soldier Nit's book.

  • Apart from the documentation of the horrors of the legions of the dead counted and uncounted, and the masses whose lives were Tauron asunder are the innumerable, soul chilling personal stories carefully preserved, making the tragedy of mass betrayal, torture and death not the mere statistic Stalin so disdainfully described but individual riel and terrible.

  • It is a matter of pure historical fact that the Gulag Archipelago played a primary rule in bringing the Soviet empire to its knees.

  • Although economically unsustainable, ruled in the most corrupt manner imaginable and reliant on the slavery and enforce deceit of its citizens, the Soviet system managed to stumble forward through far too many decades before being cut to the quick.

  • The courageous leaders of the labor unions in Poland, the great Pope John Paul, too, and the American president, Ronald Reagan, with his blunt insistence that the West faced an evil empire, all played the role in its defeat and collapse.

  • It was sold units and, however, whose revelations made it positively shameful to defend not just the Soviet state but the very system of thought that made that state what it waas.

  • It was so jin.

  • It's new, most crucially, made the case that the terrible excesses of communism could not be conveniently blamed on the corruption of the Soviet leadership, the cult of personality surrounding Stalin, or the failure to put the otherwise stellar and admirable utopian principles of Marxism into proper practice.

  • It was sold units and who demonstrated that the death of millions and the devastation of many more were instead a direct causal consequence of the philosophy.

  • Worse, perhaps, the theology driving the communist system, the hypothetically egalitarian Universalist doctrines of Karl Marx contained hidden within them sufficient hatred, resentment, envy and denial of individual culpability and responsibility to produce nothing but poison and death when manifested in the world for marks.

  • Man was a member of a class an economic class, a group that and little more and history, nothing but the battleground of classes and groups his admires regarded continue to regard Marx's doctrine as one of compassion, moral by definition, virtuous by fi.

  • It consider the working classes in all their oppression and work forthrightly to free them.

  • But hate may well be a stronger and more compelling motivator than love.

  • In consequence, it took no time in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, for solidarity with the common man and the apparently laudable demand for universal equality to manifest.

  • It's unarticulated and ever darkening shadow.

  • First came the most brutal indictment of the class enemy.

  • Then came the ever expanding definition of that enemy, until every single person in the entirety of the state found him or herself at risk of encapsulation within that insatiable and devouring net.

  • The verdict, delivered to those deemed at fault by those who elevated themselves to the simultaneously held positions of judge, jury and executioner, the necessity to eradicate the victimizers, the oppressors in Toto without any consideration whatsoever for reactionary niceties such as individual innocents, let us note as well.

  • This outcome wasn't the result of the initially pristine Marxist doctrine becoming corrupt over time but something apparent and present at the very beginning of the Soviet state itself.

  • So jin, it's and sites, for example, one Martin Lots is writing for the newspaper Red Terror.

  • November 1st, 1918.

  • We are not fighting against single individuals.

  • We are Exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class.

  • It is not necessary.

  • During the interrogation toe, look for evidence proving that the accused opposed the Soviets by word or action.

  • The first question you should ask him is, What class does he belong to?

  • What is his origin, his education and his profession?

  • These are the questions that will determine the fate of the accused.

  • Such is the sense and essence of red terror.

  • It is necessary to think when you read such a thing, to meditate long and hard on the message.

  • It is necessary to recognize, for example, that the writer believed that it would be better to execute 10,000 potentially innocent individuals than to allow one poisonous member of the oppressor class.

  • To remain free is equally necessary to pose the question.

  • Who precisely belonged to that hypothetical entity, the bourgeoisie?

  • It is not as if the boundaries of such a category are self evident there for the mere perceiving, they must be drawn.

  • But where, exactly and more importantly by whom or by what?

  • If it's hate inscribing the lines instead of love, they will inevitably be drawn so that the lowest, meanest, most cruel and useless of the conceptual geographers will be justified in manifesting the greatest possible evil and producing the greatest possible misery members of the bourgeoisie.

  • Beyond all redemption.

  • They had to go as a matter of course.

  • One of their wives, Children, even their grandchildren off with their heads, too.

  • All were incorrigibly corrupted by their class identity and their destruction, therefore ethically necessitated.

  • How convenient that the darkest and diarist of all possible motivations could be granted the highest of moral standings.

  • That was a true marriage of hell and of Heaven.

  • What values what philosophical Presumptions truly dominated under such circumstances?

  • Was it desire for brotherhood, dignity and freedom from want not in the least, not given the outcome?

  • It was instead, and obviously the murderous rage of hundreds of thousands of biblical Kane's, each looking to torture, destroy and sacrifice their own private ables.

  • There is simply no other manner of accounting for the corpses.

  • What could be concluded in the deepest, most permanent sense from soldier knits and anguished gulag narrative?

  • First we learned what is indisputable, what we all should have learned by now.

  • What we have nonetheless failed to learn that the left like the right Congar Oh, too far that the left has in the past going much too far.

  • Second, we learned what is far more subtle and difficult, how and why that going too far occurs.

  • We learn as soldier knits and so profoundly insists that the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.

  • And we learned as well that we all are each of us simultaneously oppressor and oppressed.

  • Thus we come to realize that the twin categories of guilty oppressor and justice seeking victim could be made endlessly inclusive.

  • This is not least because we all benefit unfairly, and they're all equally victimized by our throne.

  • Nous are arbitrary placement in the flow of time.

  • We all a crew undeserved and somewhat random, privileged from the vagaries of our place of birth or inequitably.

  • Distributed talents are ethnicity, race, culture and sex we all belong to a group, some group that has been elevated in comparative status through no effort of our own.

  • This is true in some manner along some dimension of group category for every solitary individual, except for the single most lowly of all at some time and in some manner, we may all, in consequence, be justly targeted as oppressors and may all equally seek justice or revenge as victims.

  • Even if the initiators of the revolution had therefore, in their most pure moments, being driven by ah, holy desire to lift up the downtrodden, was it not guaranteed that they would be over taken by those motivated primarily by envy, hate and the desire to destroy as the revolution progressed?

  • Hence the establishment of the hungrily growing and most often fatal list of class enemies right from the very first moments of the Communist revolution.

  • The demolition was aimed first at the students, the religious believers and the Socialists, continuing under Stalin with the old revolutionaries themselves, and was followed soon thereafter by the annihilation of the successful peasant farmer Cool axe.