September 01, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

This May, three months before Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s death on August 3, the writer’s wife, Natalya Dmitriyevna, sat down with Russian Life publisher Paul Richardson to talk about her family’s life in Vermont, about Russia and U.S.-Russian relations, and about her husband’s work.  

I met Natalya Solzhenitsyn just a few blocks from the Kremlin, in her large city apartment, headquarters for the Solzhenitsyn Fund – which provides important aid to former Gulag internees, plus sponsors an annual literary prize. Her son Stephan, a business consultant, had just arrived in town as well, and he joined us in a narrow office space. The bookshelves were packed with Solzhenitsyn’s works. It was in this very room in 1974, that Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was arrested and sent into exile, eventually ending up in Vermont, where he and his family lived for 17 years. 

At first, we lived in Switzerland, after they kicked us out. We lived there two and a half years, but within a year, it became clear to Aleksandr Isayevich that it was too “central” for him. Switzerland is in the center of Europe and Zurich is in the center of Switzerland, and the street we lived on was in the center of Zurich and there was a steady stream of tourists, who came to the house just wanting to greet Aleksandr Isayevich, to shake his hand and say hello for five minutes. And he was unable to work. He went to the house in the country of some of our friends, and it became clear to him that we had to live somewhere remote, somewhere in the forest. He considered moving to Canada. 

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Order a Print of the Cover Portrait

Order a print of the Solzhenitsyn portrait via ShutterFly, and we'll donate all profits to the Solzhenitsyn Fund for victims of political oppression.

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