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Thursday, February 9, 2006

From Gulag to Prime Time

Posted by on February 9 at 11:16 AM

While we all freak out about the free press/the clash of civilizations/political manipulation of the passionate faithful/fatally humorless zealotry/etc., here’s a nice bit of truth-will-out cheer from the International Herald Tribune:

Just a few decades ago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (the once-exiled writer who served eight years in a Gulag camp for criticizing Stalin in a private letter, then fled to Vermont, then won a Nobel Prize, and is still writing at the ripe old age of 254) smuggled a potentially deadly novel he’d written out of the USSR.

Now Russian state television is showing a 10-part adaptation of that “fiercely anti-Soviet” novel, The First Circle:

“I assumed that bringing it to the screen would be possible in 300 years,” the director, Gleb Panfilov, said in a television interview, recalling his desire to make the film after first reading The First Circle about 30 years ago, while it was still banned. “But it happened earlier.”

The first episode was the most watched program in Russia that week, beating Terminator 3 (if only just). There’s hope.

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If everyone read "The Gulag Archipelago" there would be far more love in the world.

In honor of the news of the day, a pair of quotes from the old boy on the value and the shortcomings of the popular press. Congrats on kicking Terminator 3's ass, Alexi!

"Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation’s heart, the excision of its memory." (Time magazine)

"Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 20th century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press." (Commencement address at Harvard)

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