Monday, August 04, 2008

Death of a Giant

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a true literary giant-- and a true dissident who stood up to bureaucratic oppression in his country. He wasn't beyond criticizing liberal phoniness in the United States. Needless to say, a man of absolute integrity.

As a novelist, Solzhenitsyn proved that the stuff of literature, presented in a basic style, is timeless.

More than this, Solzhenitsyn realized that what we present in the West isn't good enough, because our junk culture, including most of our literature, is detached from eternal truths and divorced from the human soul. Yes, literature, as art, is a LIVING thing. What counts are not the rules, the dots and jots on the page, but the truth and emotion conveyed. ("King Lear," which I've been reading and re-reading of late, is the perfect example of this.)

The writer, like Solzhenitsyn, must believe first in a foundation of honesty and truth. This was crucially important for him in a society, the Soviet Union, built upon lies, and it's almost as true for us in America today which is engulfed in the culture of the Lie-- which is the essence of postmodernism as we know it. It's why I've argued for tearing down the house of literature and constructing another on a wholly new foundation. It's a worthy cause.

From the moment I read "Denisovich" then the Gulag saga, I was influenced and inspired, to a high degree, by the work and life of Solzhenitsyn. Not a bad model to have!

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