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Nobel Winner Chronicled Tyranny of Soviet Union

Writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was persecuted and imprisoned.
Writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was persecuted and imprisoned.
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In a scathing 1978 televised address at the Harvard University commencement exercises, he said the West lacked the moral fiber to oppose communism and blamed the United States for failing to "win" the Vietnam War. He also complained about "the revolting invasion of commercial advertising . . . TV stupor and . . . intolerable music." Back home, he urged Slavic solidarity and said such non-Slavic regions as Chechnya should be cut loose.

In the West, his nationalism and views on religion and politics drew suggestions of anti-Semitism.

"Anti-Semitism is a prejudiced and unjust attitude toward the Jewish people as a whole. My own work has no such attitude," he told an interviewer.

As scholars saw it, the controversies did not diminish his great literary achievement and his contribution to understanding some of the seminal events of the 20th century.

His work promoted appreciation of the ties between Russia and its people in the face of everything.

In the opening scene of "August, 1914," a character based on his father goes to join the Army, although he might have avoided service. He gives this explanation:

"I feel sorry for Russia."

And, through his own experiences, the author said, "gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart."

Staff writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.

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