What Extraordinary Writing Does
I don’t know much about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the author of the Gulag Archipelago other than he was a revolutionary writer who ended up moving to Vermont after being expelled from Russia. He ended up living in Cavendish, Vermont for some time.
I am finding out more about him, however, and came across this quote from what seems to be his most famous work, The Gulag Archipelago:
Once we have taken up the word, it is thereafter 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 his country or by his people. And if the tanks of his fatherland have bloodied the pavement of a foreign capital, then rust-colored stains have forever bespattered 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 if his youthful fellow citizens nonchalantly proclaim the advantages of debauchery over humble toil, if they abandon themselves to drugs, or seize hostages—then this stench too 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 an ordinary 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 shall always triumph! Visibly, irrefutably for all! Lies can prevail against much in this world, but never against art…
One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.
What an incredible, relevant, stylistically beautiful, ideologically focused piece of writing.