opinions & ViewsnLet Us Listen to the Silence of the DeadnAleksander I. Solzhenitsyn: ThenGulag Archipelago, Volume III, PartsnV-VII; Harper & Row; New York.nby Leo RaditsanWe ^e have to learn we do not knownhow to read. This is a good book to startnwith. It is hard to read. It has to be readnat its own pace like NadezhdanMandelstam’s Hope Against Hope or notnat all. You cannot lose yourself in it andnforget. You keep asking yourself questionsnwhen you read it—it asks you questions:nWhat kind of person are you.’ Arenyou a person at all? It is a long book andnfinishes not because the author has saidnall there is to say, but because he hasnsaid enough. It breaks off but what itnwrites of still continues. According tonSakharov there are at present a millionnand a half prisoners in the Soviet campsn(reported by Solzhenitsyn on Frenchntelevision on March 9, 1976). In factnthe problem for Solzhenitsyn in the thirdnvolume of The Gulag Archipelago is tonend the book without inspiring the illusionnthat because the book ends and he isnoutside, the camps have disappeared intonthe past.nLike the other volumes of Gulag, thisnvolume (finished in 1968) was writtennin the period after the publication of OnenDay in the Life of Ivan Denisovich inn1962 when government officials triednto tell Solzhenitsyn his experiences werenout of date. “You are confused, or elsenyour own experiences have given you anpeculiar way of looking at things,” thenMinister for the Protection of PublicnDr. Raditsa studied at Harvard andnColumbia and published in various scholarlynpublications. Currently, he isnNational Fellow and National Endowmentnfor the Humanities fellow at thenHoover Institution in Stanford, California.nHis recent book on Wilhelm Reichnwas reviewed in the Chronicles ofnCulture.n6nChronicles of CulturenOrder told him.nIn some sense Gulag is the child ofnIvan Denisovich. The publication of thatnbook put Solzhenitsyn in correspondencenwith individuals from all over Russia,nwith former zeks (prisoners), with jailors,nwarders, convoy guards and zeks still innthe camps who pleaded and demandednthat he speak out for them too. Becausenhe had started to put the continued existencenof the camps out of his mind, thesenpleas surprised and embarrassed him:n”Just as they (the former prisoners) usednto think that everyone was inside, theynnow think that no one is inside.” For thencamps during the time he was outsidenwriting this book, Solzhenitsyn uses thesenletters from zeks and accounts fromnsurvivors of the camps in the sixties likenAnatoly Marchenko’s My Testimonyn(London, 1969). He also gives an importantnaccount of the strike in Novocherkassknwhere Soviet soldiers murderednsomething like seventy or eighty peoplenon June 2, 1962.nAnd for us, too, keeping the Sovietncamps in our minds is a problem. Thenworld it describes has only just begun tonlive in our consciousness and even thatnhas taken a long time. Before The GulagnArchipelago, there were something likenthirty books on the Soviet concentrationncamps (one was published in English inn1934) but they did not succeed in puttingnthe knowledge of the camps in our breastsnwhere we cannot deny it. And how onenwishes to deny this book, desires tondestroy it when one reads it, wishes itnhad never been thought or written ornpublished!nWhy has Solzhenitsyn succeeded innmaking us know in a way we cannotndeny? I do not know. Perhaps, becausenhe wrote the book in Russia and fornRussians, because he did not write innexile. He never intended it to be publishednwhile he lived. But the author lives andnthe book is published—not in the SovietnUnion, though it must circulate therentoo (of this I have no definite information).nIt teaches that we are still entanglednnnin a past we wish away, that Stalin is anpart of our world, of us in a way Hitlern(whom Solzhenitsyn calls Stalin’s disciple)nis not. Hitler destroyed in war is innthe past—we are conscious of him; henhaunts us. But the crimes of Stalin’s timenare still so much a part of us that we donnot know them. They are in our mindsneven if we do not know them—especiallynif we do not know them.nIn this final volume, Solzhenitsynnspeaks both like a zek and like himself sonhis voice is more living and quickeningnthan in the other volumes. In the othernvolumes he tends to speak either as a zeknor as a person on the outside but nevernso deeply for himself as he does in thenthird volume (and the last chapters ofnthe second). But even in the strength ofnSolzhenitsyn’s voice the work maintainsnits choral character. Towards the endnthe dialogue between Solzhenitsyn andnhimself as a zek and the reader deepens—nbut there are still other voices. There isnno problem in this work with the narratorn(that is, with his narcissism); he is there,nyou can hear his voice—but he does notnget in the way of other voices whichnspeak for themselves. (Sinyavsky in AnVoice from the Chorus [New York,n1976] uses the same form, even morensparingly; he has no narrative, onlynvoices.)nIt is just these different voices, speakingnfreely for themselves which allow you tonhear the absence of the voices of thenmillions of dead in the camps who didnnot speak, because they could not or whonspoke and were not heard. Solzhenitsyn’snability to make you hear the silence ofnthe dead, of the unmourned, unburiedndead, explains why this book excites frightnbut not guilt, why it strengthens rathernthan weakens, why it spurs you to takenmore responsibility for your life rathernthan to blame others for it. Survivingnzefo—and by that he means zeks whonsurvived without doing others in—donnot pity themselves. This book teachesnyou something of that kind of self-respect.n