CAVENDISH, Vt. – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize winning writer and Soviet dissident, spent 18 of his 20 years in exile in Cavendish, Vt. With the publication of “Between Two Millstones: Sketches of Exile, 1974-1977” scholars, as well as interested people, have a glimpse of what life was like for him during this time.
According the description on the University of Notre Dame Press page, “Between Two Millstones contains vivid descriptions of Solzhenitsyn’s journeys to various European countries and North American locales, where he and his wife Natalia (“Alya”) searched for a location to settle their young family.
“There are also passages on Solzhenitsyn’s family and their property in Cavendish, Vermont, whose forested hillsides and harsh winters evoked his Russian homeland, and where he could finally work undisturbed on his ten-volume history of the Russian Revolution, ‘The Red Wheel.’ Stories include the efforts made to assure a proper education for the writer’s three sons, their desire to return one day to their home in Russia, and descriptions of his extraordinary wife, editor, literary advisor, and director of the Russian Social Fund, Alya, who successfully arranged, at great peril to herself and to her family, to smuggle Solzhenitsyn’s invaluable archive out of the Soviet Union.”
For Vermonters, Sen. Patrick Leahy summed it up when he wrote, “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn took to Vermont and Vermonters took to him. I felt it a privilege to have met with him in his new Vermont setting, and I know that our state’s forested beauty reminded him of home. We are proud that he believed that his homeland, and the world, could learn from the local self-government that is embodied in Town Meeting Day in towns and hamlets across the Green Mountain State.”
There were differing ideas of how Solzhenitsyn lived in Cavendish – a self-imposed “gulag” to a lavish lifestyle in a “gated” compound. However, the truth was quite different. Learn all about it in “Between Two Millstones,” now available on Amazon.
Excerpt of article written by Margo Caulfield, www.cavendishhistoricalsocietynews.blogspot.com.