Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in 1918 in Kislovodsk.1 His parents, both of whom were of peasant stock and were the first in their families to gain an education, were married in August 1917 at the front, where the writer’s father was a second lieutenant in an artillery brigade. In 1914 he had left Moscow University in order to enlist in the military in WWI, putting in three-and-a-half years of service and returning to the Kuban region in early 1918. He died as a result of a hunting accident six months before the birth of his son. The writer’s mother raised the boy by herself in hardscrabble circumstances, living in drafty tumble-down shacks that had to be heated with coal and needed water to be carried in by bucket.

Sanya, as the boy was...


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