“Some of the unpublished manuscripts here had been labeled by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn as ‘unfit to publish—ever,’” said Natalia Solzhenitsyn, widow of the great Russian writer known for The Gulag Archipelago, The First Circle, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
Natalia Solzhenitsyn, who edited Solzhenitsyn’s work throughout his life and represented him to the public, talked about the archive contents at the Uptown Stage at BEA Tuesday morning, as part of the Read Russia program. She described the contents, never before accessible to the public, including personal correspondence to his close friends and relatives; photos and audio and video recordings; and documents, like his parents’ birth certificates, his college diploma, his Nobel Prize letter, and a court government letter exonerating him of anti-Soviet propaganda—after he had served nearly 12 years in a labor camp. All the documents are in the process of being scanned and digitized.
Natalia Solzhenitsyn also made note of the 5,000 volumes of books in Solzhenitsyn’s personal library. Most impressive are the numerous early drafts of his great works—nearly all written by hand. Included in the archive are early, handwritten drafts of the Red Wheel and The Gulag Archipelago.
Solzhenitsyn, who was born the year after the revolution, in 1918, and died nearly 90 years later, kept meticulous research papers and stored them in folders and notebooks, many of which he had made himself: “I doubt I could have compiled such a body of work without a methodical approach, which suits my character.”