Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The prophetic power and gentle touch of the man who could not be silenced

Michael Estafiev / AFP / Getty

I met Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at his home in Vermont in 1993, through his eldest son, with whom I went to college. It was snowing hard, and he came in from the small separate house he used as his study to join the family for dinner. He looked a bit gruff, but his eyes were kind. He asked me what my major was, and I told him it was literature. "What kind?" he asked. "English," I said. He said, "There are other kinds of literature, you know."

We were standing in the living room, and I looked at the shelves full of...

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