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img304It is Interesting how some books and authors keep coming back in our times. For example, I have recently started to read the book The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)  readers familiar with this writer through his two books The Gulag Archipelago, written between 1958 and 1967,which brought Solzhenitsyn the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature and his other famous book One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) are the books the western world, especially Americans, would be most familiar. My interest was peaked after I purchased the book (above) published in 1968 with its wonderful dust jacket done by an unknown to me book designer. There was no reference in the book as to whom had actually designed the dust jacket. Using a google image search I came across this very nice website.

I found out that the artist who designed the jacket was Ismar David ( 1910-?) who did varied work from portraits to calligraphy. Born in Breslau (Poland) educated in Berlin, Israeli by choice he finally left for New York to pursue his many career interests. The story involving the books written and published by Solzhenitsyn does not always evolve into a straight line. Some books were so called “pirated” editions with the help of manuscripts smuggled out from behind the Iron Curtain, usually done by acquaintances of the writers. This resulted into a partly published manuscript or book in different languages and usually published in places like London, Italy or West Germany.

More contemporary Russian poets/writers like Yevtushenko have been quoted saying: Solzhenitsyn, is our only living Russian classic”.


img306The First circle book published by Harper & Row Publishers, in English as a first edition, there was no Russian version until 1969, published in Paris. Solzhenitsyn allowed the book to be published during his exile years outside the Soviet Union in a somewhat self-censored version. The full version was published after his death in 2009.

The importance of his books and life story cannot be underestimated especially since criticism in the later years when Solzhenitsyn had returned to Russia was rampant. And yes that criticism did not come from the progressive left/communist leftovers only, but also from the West, due to the fact that the Soviet state apparatus had been engaged in an active smear campaign for many years before, during and after his exile.

An erudite couple of USA book dealers, James Jaffe, then of Haverford, Pa. and John Wronoski, owner of Lame Duck Books in Cambridge, Ma. put out a catalog in the fall of 2001 under the aegis of Lame Duck Books, titled The Russian Catalog. That catalog listed 461 books by Avant-garde Russian writers and it was certainly a milestone publication! An introductory eight page brilliant essay to that catalog was written by the poet, writer Charles Vallely (?-2008) who had the following to say: “In the ensuing decades these same books would ring a death knell of marxism-leninism. After they appeared, Western sympathy-long on the wane-completely evaporated. And eventually, with little or no domestic opposition, the United States and Great Britain- led by President Reagan and Mrs.Thatcher moved cautiously but implacably to undermine the Soviets. In the end-dishonored, friendless, farcically inept- the once all-powerful Party did not put up much of a fight. But it was literature that brought it down.

Literature tends to be subversive. In the hands of the few indisputable masters, it is subversive even when it tries, very hard, not to be. This is why burghers and bankers have traditionally distrusted it; and why pedagogues are hired to pull its teeth. Why tyrants fear it, and why moralists of every hue and every stripe detest it. It is subversive in myriad, ever evolving ways, easily adapting itself to shifting contexts. It never dies. And it is time the industrial democracies-the United States in particular-began to understand that contempt for communism and the worlds it made is not co-equal with admiration for themselves; and that literature that indicted Communism and destroyed it-is something they best be wary of.”

Let us hope that twelve years into this new century, the era or the popular puppet masters/cult leaders and mass manipulating “priests” of the “new state culture” like the Putin/Obama duo take this sort of forthright insight to heart. I am afraid they will certainly not do that, especially now that the once independent media has become a spout for the liberal fascist state, a term coined by journalist/writer Jonah Goldberg in his 2009, New York Times bestseller book Liberal Fascism.

img301img303img302The media, now totally supported by the history re-writing educational circuits and their tenured muses will do everything to demonize the legacy of freedoms aptly conquered by the company of great men, now one or two generations removed. Who was it that once said: freedom can be lost in just one generation if you do not treasure all it has to give you, after you give your all for it? Oh yes, it was twicemodern!