Sunday, August 03, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, RIP

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize-winning author and perhaps Communism's most potent literary foe, died today at age 89.

His One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich should have been required reading in every American government school, but wasn't. While I had read this work, I was reintroduced to his importance by one of my college professors, James Pontuso, Patterson Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs at Hampden-Sydney College, whose doctoral thesis was on the great Russian author's work.

With a personal knowledge that the author of the phrase (Eric Blair AKA George Orwell) could not, Solzhenitsyn illustrated the reality of Marxist totalitarianism: "Imagine a boot in your face. Forever." And revealed its horrors to a world all too frequently willing to turn a blind eye.



BillRead said...

Jim, it is a sad and interesting occasion to find your blog. Hope things are well with you. Bill Read

James Young said...

Don't quite know how to interpret the "sad and interesting occasion" part of that, Bill, but good to hear from you. Rest assured, things are just peachy, if busy. Certainly hope all is well with you and yours.

And I have to wonder what story accompanies that beard!

BillRead said...

"Sad and interesting" only referred to his death. An employee of mine sent me a link to the NYT article, and I remembered that Pontuso won some kind of award related to Solzhenitsyn while we were at HSC. I googled Solzhenitsyn and HSC and came upon your blog.

I'm in the tech business, wondering where this recession everyone is talking about-- I certainly can't find it.

The beard came about because I could finally get away with it. I tried in my 20s, and failed miserably. Shortly before turning 40, I failed to shave for a couple of weeks and never looked back. Being in the tech/web business, I can get away with it. I tell everyone that my wife wouldn't let me have a sports car or mistress for my mid-life crisis, and so this is the next best thing.

What you can't see in that picture from 2005 is my pony tail, seen here, slinking around my shoulder like a ferret.

James Young said...

Good lookin' young lady! Congratulations! Your ponytail reminds me of a photo that our tech guy had published in Parade magazine: his daughter on his shoulders, with HIS ponytail slinking out from under her dress like a tail. Sounds like your wife has the same attitude towards the beard that mine has toward my cigars: it's the only vice she allows me. Your vice is, however, probably cheaper.

You can see my two WMDs ... er, boys, on the College alumni page. They're a little older and smellier now, but that photo is evidence that they were cute once.