Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, flawed and fabulous giant of Russian letters has died. Quoth the Associated Press:
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author whose books chronicled the horrors of the Soviet gulag system, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.
Stepan Solzhenitsyn told The Associated Press his father died late Sunday, but declined further comment.
Solzhenitsyn’s unflinching accounts of torment and survival in the Soviet Union’s slave labor camps riveted his countrymen, whose secret history he exposed. They earned him 20 years of bitter exile, but international renown.
The following quote is from a ten-year-old review in the NYT book pages and I feel it can stand as an epitaph of sorts here
But for Vera Moseyeva, a retired clerk who remembers the first book by Mr. Solzhenitsyn that she ever laid her hands on (it was almost in rags by the time it had been carefully and secretly passed to her), it does not matter what he writes.
”Whatever he says is always interesting,” she said, after buying three copies of ”Russia in Collapse.” “[…] Does he scold too much? Given the way life is these days, how can one not be scolding?”
Scolding, inspiring, and, going by interviews, essays and the like, a writer eminently interested in his language and its riches. As a thinker he may be questionable, but he was a writer like few others, and looking at the desert that contemporary German literature is, I wish we had a writer as keen on language and as energetic and driven as Mr. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He will be sorely missed.