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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...

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