Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-alive)

         So many lies about Solzhenitsyn were planted by the Soviets that it is hard to know which criticisms are true. A common theme was that all his old friends, including his ex-wife, have disavowed him. In fact, these disavowals were true. But what pressures did the Soviets put on these people, all of whom had to remain in the Soviet Union? Perhaps they will someday be able to tell their real stories.
          Another theme was that Solzhenitsyn is anti-Semitic. Many have gone over his works looking for any shred of evidence. If Jewish villains are disproportionately high in any anecdote this is immediately seized as evidence. If Jews are not mentioned at all this too is seized as evidence.
         But Solzhenitsyn does not endear himself to strangers because he still behaves like a 'zek' (prisoner). He is dour, ever suspicious, ever on guard. He must be caught smiling. Otherwise for anyone but his closest friends he frowns or deadpans. But even inside his circle of friends he can be difficult. Some of his beliefs have become extreme. For example, he regards the giving of a gift as an imposition on the one who receives the gift. He argues that the giver imposes his taste on the receiver, robbing the receiver of his freedom.
          He has many dislikes, which he indulges. He dislikes automobiles, luxuries, large cities, warm climates, noise, most things 'modern' and the West. He loathes all distractions, which to him include children and socializing outside the family. He is almost totally absorbed in his work. His next highest priority is himself but seemingly only to keep himself fit to write.
         The only warmth that he reveals to the world is in the heroes and heroines of his writings…

Sanya: My Life with Solzhenitsyn by ex-wife Natalya Reshetovskaya, 1975, and Solzhenitsyn by Michael Scammell, 1984]

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