Victor Makarov "Lessons Learned from Solzhenitsyn"
The experience which I attained from reading the literary investigation “The Gulag
Archipelago”, made by Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, which I read while being
imprisoned ,without any exaggeration became for me the one, which not only protected me
from the harsh reality by merely explaining to me „ the international law” of prison life, as it
is nowadays, after many centuries of evolution(a convict, an overseer, a prison camp are
international notions) me the likelyhood of police-prosecutory and court system in many
countries of the world, as well as helped me find the path which would lead me to the light at
the end of a tunnel.
My first acquaintance with “Archiplago” took place many years ago, in the 70-ies in the
city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, while I was a student. I think the book was published in “Novyi
Mir” magazine. I ran through the book and did not read it attentively. I looked it through out
of curiosity, since the book was in fashion at that time; my friend’s mother disapproved of
Solzhenitsyn so emotionally for his being against the Soviets, that I couldn’t resist interest in
the source of such intense hatred.
Even after having read “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” and a part of “The
Archipelago”, I haven’t taken them close to my heart. Probably my young age and lightmindedness
, as well as all the cocktail on which we, the Soviet youth of 60-s and 70-s were
“mixed” and brought up are to be blamed.
In 2004, after I got incarcerated in Long Bay prison in the city of Sidney, Australia
(New South Wales),at the library, I accidentally stumbled upon the “One day in the life of
Ivan Denisovych”- a book, which, to my surprise neighboured with “The State and the
Revolution” by V.I. Lenin, and a little bit later I found there “The Archipelago” as well.
Naturally, the books were in English. After having turned a few pages and reading with
difficulty some descriptions of life in prison and in prison camp, I decided to do my best to
read both the story and the novel in Russian. Soon enough my wife sent me the electronic
versions of these books.
I read “One day” in a gulp and thought it to be interesting fiction. As for “The
Archipelago”, I started to underline interesting and attractive thoughts. After a while I found
this not efficient enough and started a notebook, where I wrote down everything which was
of interest to me.
I was reading and could not believe that A.I. Solzhenitsyn had been witing about the USSR.
I found it incredible that all these reports to the authorities, arrests, accusations, trials with
prosecutors and lawyers, as well as prisons and prison camps, with their convicts and guards,
do not relate to me...