Its been quite some time that I happened to hear about this man, Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn. For the uninitiated he is a Russian author who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. When one hears about Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Arcipelago cannot be really far behind.

       The book in 3 parts is about the Soviet slave labour camps under Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili better known as Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator after Lenin who was responsible for the obliteration of 11 million of his own countrymen.  The Gulag is an acronym which stands for Glavnoe Upravnei LAGerei – which is the Russian equivalent of Main Camp Administration. Solzhenitsyn brilliantly portrays the oppression that people endured under the Communist Regime & the farcical circumstances that were played out to incarcerate people on charges of being unfaithful to the Motherland & to the Revolution. What probably stands out is the meticulous detail that he has harped on, given the fact that he himself had been a prisoner in the GULAG for more than a decade. The book is based totally on his memory of people & events during his incarceration.   

         A haunting reminder of the life that prisoners endured out here is probably best reflected in these lines of his from the book, “Even the absence of variety can be sensed as satisfaction when a variety of dissatisfactions has preceded it. After camp, which had already seemed endless & after a 10 hour workday after cold, rain & aching back, oh, what happiness there was to lie there on one’s back for whole days on end, to sleep & nevertheless receive a pound & a half of bread & two hot meals a day- made from cattle feed or dolphin’s flesh. In a word, the “BuTyur” , Health Resort. “

      A must read for anyone who appreciates history & strong writing & of course the ones with Communist leanings.

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