Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Day the Life of Ivan Denisovich Ended

Alexander Solzhenitsyn is dead. For those of us who opposed Communism in the Cold War he ranks high in the pantheon. Truman and Reagan were Presidents of the United States. Pius XII and John Paul II were the head of the Church Eternal against which the Gates of Hell Shall Not Stand. But Solzhenitsyn was alone. Alone in the Gulag. Alone in the liberal West. Alone. And Triumphant.

I must confess I find German literature completely impenatrable and have never made it through anything literary from Germany besides the Brothers Grimm. I have read Das Kapital because I had to, anthing else requires more caffeine than exists in Brazil and since 1991 it is no longer necessary.

Russian literature is less impentrable but still a hard go. I have read the Day in the Life and excerpts of Gulag but have never made it all the way through Gulag or the Red Wheel. I do remember the Speech at Harvard where he took the West to task. Whittikaer Chambers would have agreed on the decadence. At the time, I thought the splitters and the rest would have us cave to Soviet expansion and socialist agit-prop. He, and I were wrong. But it does not take away the magnificance of his witness and the Truth he has touched upon regarding atheistic Communism.

Solhzenitzyn is dead. Reagan is dead. Nixon is dead. Buckley is dead. JPII is dead. Patrick Moynihan is dead. Jesse Helms is dead. Scoop Jackson is dead. The Baroness still lives. Sakahrov still lives. All the anti-communists I looked to when I was young are dying or gone. I feel old and bereft tonight.

Russia is neither Communist nor Orthodox. She is dying. There will be virtually no Russians when my sons sons are grown. All her glory is buried with the Romanovs and she will now slowly spiral to economic and demographic collapse.

The Spartans are gone, but we remember the Spartans. The Romans are gone, but we rememer the Romans. The Carthaginians, Aztecs, and Inca live no more but we remember them. So it will be, I pray, with the Russia that is dying. Much that was brave and strong and true was with them. When they pass from the pageant of history much that was brave and strong and true will go out of it.


Lietzy said...

Cancer Ward is one of the finest novels that I have ever read. I commend it to anyone.

Dave S. said...

(golf claps)

This post should be cast in bronze, or perhaps sealed in amber, as the epitome of JJV-ness, or in Russian, zhezhevenost'. I especially like the pointless digression about German literature.

Also, Sakharov's widow is still alive, but the phrase "Sakharov's widow" gives some indication of the status of the famous Soviet physicist and dissident.

Dave S. said...

Not surprisingly, Harry Hutton is slightly less reverent.