ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN publishes the first volume of his epic on the Bolshevik Revolution and gives a rare account of his life in Vermont In his first major American interview since 1

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A. It is quite extraordinary the extent to which I have been lied about. I will give you some of the accusations that are made about me: that I am an advocate of theocracy, that I want the state to be run by priests. But I have never written such a thing. Also, I am supposedly nostalgic for the Czars and want our modern Communist Russia to go back to czarism. Now, aside from the fact that only an imbecile thinks that one can bring back the past, nowhere have I written anything of the sort. Nowhere have I written that the monarchy is an ideal system. Everything comes from the fact that in the Soviet Union, Nicholas II was characterized as less than human, as a monkey, as the ultimate scoundrel, but I described him as a real person, as a human being. In other words, I deviated from the norm.

Some people distort things consciously, others just don't take the trouble to check their sources. It is remarkable, and it makes me ashamed of journalists. No one ever gives any quotes. The same is true for the charge that I am a nationalist. I am a patriot. I love my motherland. I want my country, which is sick, which for 70 years has been destroyed, and is on the very edge of death, I want it to come back to life. But this doesn't make me a nationalist. I don't want to limit anyone else. Every country has its own patriots who are concerned with its fate.

Q. How do you account for the violent feelings about your views?

A. In Europe the response to me is very varied. But in the Soviet Union and the U.S., it's like an assembly line: all opinions about me are exactly the same. In the Soviet Union I can understand it. It is due to the Politburo. They push a button, and everybody speaks the way the Politburo orders. But in the U.S. fashion is very important. If the winds of fashion are blowing in one ( direction, everybody writes one way and with perfect unanimity. It is perfectly extraordinary.

Then there was the Harvard speech ((in 1978)), where I expressed my views about the weaknesses of the U.S., assuming that democracy is thirsty for criticism and likes it. Maybe democracy likes and wants criticism, but the press certainly does not. The press got very indignant, and from that point on, I became the personal enemy, as it were, of the American press because I had touched that sensitive spot. Some people said, "Why did our leaders take him into this country so uncritically? They shouldn't have taken him in."

I have to say this was especially saddening, because the main idea of the Harvard speech -- "A World Split Apart" -- which is very important for the U.S. and Western thought, is that the world is not monolinear, not made up of homogeneous parts that all follow the same course. The mistake of the West, and this is how I started my Harvard speech, is that everyone measures other civilizations by the degree to which they approximate Western civilization. If they do not approximate it, they are hopeless, dumb, reactionary and don't have to be taken into account. This viewpoint is dangerous.

Q. Today there are events of enormous significance taking place both in the Soviet Union and throughout the whole Communist world. Why do you choose to be silent about these changes?

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