A sense of enduring harmony did not abandon him.

Today we remember the death of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008). Below are a couple of paragraphs from his comments on the idea that “beauty will save the world,” from the website of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

“One artist imagines himself the creator of an autonomous spiritual world; he hoists upon his shoulders the act of creating this world and of populating it, together with the total responsibility for it. But he collapses under the load, for no mortal genius can bear up under it, just as, in general, the man who declares himself the center of existence is unable to create a balanced spiritual system. And if a failure befalls such a man, the blame is promptly laid to the chronic disharmony of the world, to the complexity of modern man’s divided soul, or to the public’s lack of understanding.

“Another artist recognizes above himself a higher power and joyfully works as a humble apprentice under God’s heaven, though graver and more demanding still is his responsibility for all he writes or paints—and for the souls which apprehend it. However, it was not he who created this world, nor does he control it; there can be no doubts about its foundations. It is merely given to the artist to sense more keenly than others the harmony of the world, the beauty and ugliness of man’s role in it—and to vividly communicate this to mankind. Even amid failure and at the lower depths of existence— in poverty, in prison, and in illness—a sense of enduring harmony cannot abandon him.”

-Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

6 thoughts on “A sense of enduring harmony did not abandon him.

  1. Such a nugget is, “…joyfully works as a humble apprentice under God’s heaven…” that even though I have been exposed to this quote in numerous settings, from private encounters, sermons, writing workshops, and now a dear friend’s blog, I am grateful to be reminded by such a man once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read The Gulag Archipelago as a teen. I’ve since tried to read another of his novels, but the ugliness was too overwhelming. I probably should have stuck it out. He obviously was trying to communicate the things spoken above. God bless him! He’s so young in this photo. I’ve only seen pictures of him as an older man.

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  3. Memory eternal. I hope his work will never be lost; we seem to be entering into a time where whatever can be learned from the past is increasingly ignored and held in contempt.

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  4. Have you read his essay/polemic/exhortation often called Live Not By Lies? It was written just before his arrest — perhaps even the day before, if I remember correctly. I’d have to check the details. In any event, you can read it here. I’ve been toying with posting it on my blog. One of these days I will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just came by here again and see that it was you who tipped me off about “Live Not by Lies.” Solzhenitsyn’s words — and the message that the title sums up — have been echoing in my mind for the last year; I am pretty sure Rod Dreher chose them as the title of his book more recently. I am reading his book now.


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