Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies

Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died in Russia aged 89 of a stroke. A graduate of physics and mathematics, he fought in the Great Patriotic War (Second World War) as an artillery officer and was decorated for bravery. He was denounced and exiled to the gulags for criticising Stalin in a letter in 1945.

His first book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published in 1962 after Khrushchev had denounced Stalin. The book is the account (suggested to be semi autobiographical) of one day in a labour camp. He subsequently wrote the novels First Circle and Cancer Ward and won the Nobel Prize for literature. He was exiled from the USSR and went to live in the USA though he returned to Russia in 1994. There he continued to write but also dismissed the democratic reforms of Gorbachev and Yeltsin as well as castigating Western liberalism. As his BBC obituary here shows: a most complex and interesting man.