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Russia. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago may disappear from the reading list in Russia

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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago” may be removed from the Russian school curriculum. Such a proposal was made by the Russian parliamentarian Dmitry Vyatkin, who declared that the book “does not correspond to reality” and “has not stood the test of time”.

Vyatkin spoke about this when he announced changes to the literature curriculum in Russian schools. After his statement, the head of the parliamentary education committee, Olga Kazakova, stated that decisions on changes to the program take a long time and are not made “on the basis of private opinions”.

“Doesn’t correspond to reality”

According to the Mediazona portal, Vyatkin said that “works that have not stood the test of time, that do not correspond to reality” should be removed from the program, and he mentioned the “Gulag Archipelago”. He expressed the belief that this work “soon will disappear from school curricula”. He referred to an unspecified “historical analysis” which, according to him, showed that many facts Solzhenitsyn “sucked from his finger, invented”. Vyatkin also stated that Solezhnitsyn – who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970 – “has thrown mud at his own homeland.”

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A 48-year-old parliamentarian who is one of the deputy heads of the faction of the ruling One party Russia in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, he also stated that, for example, Aleksandr Fiadeev’s “Young Guard” should return to schools. Vyatkin said that the deputies want to “restore historical justice to Soviet works that educate in the spirit of patriotism.” Proposals to restore these readings are not new, a few days ago Vladimir Putin declared that it is worth restoring the works of “Soviet classics” to school curricula, which – according to him – “shape the historical awareness of entire generations”.

The “Gulag Archipelago” was included in school curricula in Russia in 2009 at the behest of Putin. Excerpts from the three-volume novel were included in the compulsory programs of Russian literature of the 20th century.

What is The Gulag Archipelago about?

In The Gulag Archipelago, showing all the stages of life in Soviet labor camps, Solzhenitsyn combined elements of autobiography, novels, reportage and eyewitness accounts. He called his work “an attempt at literary investigation”. Being a work of art, “The Gulag Archipelago” is in fact a gulag encyclopedia. In 1973, the KGB confiscated the novel’s manuscript, and Solzhenitsyn decided to publish the book in the West (the first of three volumes was published in Paris in 1973). This publication greatly contributed to dispelling illusions about the communist system in the West.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV



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