Solzhenitsyn at LargenEdward E. Ericson, Jr.: Solzhenitsyn:nThe Moral Vision; Wm. B.nEerdmans; Grand Rapids, Michigan.nVladimir Lakshin: Solzhenitsyn,nTvardovsky and ‘Novy Mir’; MITnPress; Cambridge, Massachusetts.nby John W. CoopernWh en the pagan Mongols sweptninto Russia in the 13th century, RussiannChristianity already had a three-hundred-year-oldnheritage rich in piety,nmonastic charity and missionary spirit.nInstead of discouraging the faith, thenMongol conquest deepened the hold ofnChristianity on the Russians, who regardednthe Church as the one institutionntruly their own, the source of Russiannunity. The Church became a permanentnsymbol of Russian nationalism.nThe modern-day tyrants of Russianseem to have confronted a similarlynindomitable force in the pen of Solzhenitsyn,nwho calls not only his ownnnation, but the West as well, to recovernthe original Christian faith with itsnconcomitant deabsolutizing of politics.nAleksandr Solzhenitsyn has condemnednthe genocidal policies and totalitarianntyranny of the Soviet system. He hasncondemned the materialism, anthropocentricnhumanism and irresponsiblenattitude of appeasement of the West.nWhat Solzhenitsyn seeks to retrieve isnthe ancient spirit of love and communalnsolidarity as an ideal of Christian civilization.nSuch traditionalist orthodoxy inevitablyncomes as something of a shock tonWesterners, Americans in particular.nSolzhenitsyn’s words have behind themnthe force of integrity. He does not acceptnthe fact that humanism, democraticnMr. Cooper, a doctoral candidate in thenDepartment of Religion at SyracusenUniversity, is a researcher at the AmericannEnterprise Institute.ndi^tnChronicles of Culturencapitalism and religious pluralism,nthough often chaotic, have brought certainnrich rewards for Western civilization.nHe may not appreciate the diffusionnof power. But he almost inevitablynhits the mark in his literary, politicalnand religious judgments. His grasp ofnthe relationship of art and morality hasnthrust him into the role of prophet, anserious burden for any believer in thenreligion of the Cross.nOolzhenitsyn’s moral vision, an interconnectedntheory of aesthetics, politicsnand faith, has been captured in EdwardnEricson’s Solzhenitsyn: The MoralnVision. Ericson, an English professornat Calvin College, uncovers the thematicnunity of Solzhenitsyn’s fiction: man’snuniversal moral struggle to respond tonthe Truth which transcends him. Hencarefully sorts through the literaryntreasures from One Day in the Life ofnIvan Denisovich to The Gulag Archipelagonand shows how Solzhenitsyn’s talesnof life in a concentration camp and hisndescriptions of the sufferings inflictednby a centralized bureaucracy reveal thentrue nature of the Soviet system as wellnas the unquenchable will-to-power innman. Ericson draws a sharp distinctionnbetween a political and an aesthetic interpretationnof the novels, showing hownSolzhenitsyn’s insights transcend thenshifting tides of political fortune. Yet,nlike all Russian literati, Solzhenitsynnis revealed as a writer with a moralnmission:n. . . From the beginning Solzhenitsyn’snwork was viewed through thenwrong lens. A political approach doesnnot penetrate to the heart of One Day.nThe novel is not,’in its essence, aboutnStalin’s inhumanity to man; it isnabout man’s inhumanity to man.nStalin is not some aberration in annotherwise smooth progression ofnhumaneness in history. The evil ofnthe human heart is a universal theme:nthis is Solzhenitsyn’s approach.nnnEricson’s hermeneutics is evident innhis discussion of Cancer Ward and ancharacter named Shulubin, a patientnwhose experiences and sufferings leadnhim to lament his subservience to Marxismnand to regret that he had oncen”agreed to become a little man.” Ericsonndisputes the view of some criticsnwho equate Shulubin’s “ethical socialism”nwith Solzhenitsyn’s viewpoint,nwhile showing that even Shulubin cannotnconcede that his refusal to bow beforenthe state ultimately implies faithnin God.nFinally, Ericson provides a thoroughnanalysis of why the Western press persistsnin seeing Solzhenitsyn as a reactionary,nchauvinistic, religious zealotnwith limited knowledge of the West.nHe presents Solzhenitsyn’s vision asna coherent, defensible whole and dissectsnthe persuasive and subtle tactics of thenLetter to the Soviet leaders, whichnurges a gradual tempering of authoritarianism.nAccording to Solzhenitsyn,nthe millennium preceding the Bolsheviknrevolution revealed that Russia’sn”authoritarian order possessed a strongnmoral foundation, embryonic and rudimentarynthough it was—not the ideologynof universal violence, but ChristiannOrthodoxy.” Solzhenitsyn’s open letternto Patriarch Pimen, the communistappointednhead of the Russian OrthodoxnChurch, is deeply critical of the Church’snaccommodation to atheistic usurpers.noolzhenitsyn the politician is thensubject of another recent addition tonthe secondary literature. Vladimir Lakshin’snSolzhenitsyn, Tvardovsky andn’Novy Mir,’ including accompanyingnessays by Mary Chaffin, Linda Aldwincklenand the translator, MichaelnGlenny, proceeds from the premise thatnSolzhenitsyn’s The Oak and the Calfnis a one-sided account of the literarynpolitics of Moscow in the early 1960’s.nLakshin, the leading Uterary critic ofnNovy Mir, the journal which first pubn