November/December 2018: Solzhenitsyn 1918-2018: A Centenary Celebration
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It should come as no surprise that the spiritual awakening of both Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn occurred during their years of penal servitude. There were major differences between the tsarist katorga and the Soviet
GULag, but in both systems of detention reflective men were forced to confront themselves and their past as never before. Dostoyevsky’s past had been one of guilt, closely associated with a hatred of serfdom. In pleading for more money, he had, or so he believed, forced his father to increase pressure on his serfs, who murdered him in response. A Christian in a vague humanitarian sense, the young Dostoyevsky found himself drawn to utopian socialism and, for that reason, he joined the Petrashevsky Circle, a discussion group organized by Mikhail Petrashevsky, a disciple of Charles Fourier.