Alexander Solzhenitsyn turns 85

On Thursday, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a leading 20th century Russian writer, turns 85.

Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk (North Caucasus) on December 11, 1918. In 1941, he graduated from the department of physics and mathematics at the Rostov State University. He was arrested for disrespectful remarks about Stalin in a letter to a friend in 1945 and sentenced to eight years in a detention camp and then to lifelong exile to Kazakhstan.

Solzhenitsyn was rehabilitated in 1956 and was granted the right to reside in the European part of Russia. He worked as a schoolteacher in the Vladimir region and began to write. In the end of 1962 he settled in Ryazan. Solzhenitsyn's story "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" was published in the November issue of the Novy Mir (New World) journal. The editor in chief of the journal had to ask for the personal approval of Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, to publish the story. It made the writer famous all over the world. The stories "Matryona's Farm", "For the Good of the Cause" and "An Incident at Krechetovka Station" were published in 1963. They were subjected to sharp official criticism. After that, Solzhenitsyn's manuscripts were confiscated.

Since 1965, his books were not published in the Soviet Union. His novels "The Cancer Ward" and "The First Circle" were published abroad in 1968 and "August 1914," in 1971. On October 4, 1969, he was excluded from the Ryazan Organization of the USSR Writers' Union. On November 5, 1969, Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the RSFSR Writers' Union. The first part of the book "The GULAG Archipelago" was published in Paris in December 1973. After that, he was exiled from the Soviet Union and deprived of the Soviet citizenship in February 1974. Later that year Alexander Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize in literature conferred on him in 1970.

In 1988, the Novy Mir journal began to publish chapters from "The GULAG Archipelago" even though the CPSU Central Committee opposed it. On June 30, 1989, his membership in the RSFSR Writers' Union was restored. At that time Alexander Solzhenitsyn's article "Rebuilding Russia" appeared in the Soviet press.

He returned to Russia in May 1994. In 1976-1994 he lived in the United States. In May 1997, Solzhenitsyn was elected full member (academician) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1997 he established his own prize in literature ($25,000).

His new book "200 Years Together" on Russian-Jewish relations aroused ambiguous public response.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn met with President Boris Yeltsin in 1994 and President Vladimir Putin in 2000.

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