Calls Dissident Author Possibly "Insane" !

Letter of Mikhail Solokhov to the Secretariat of the Union of Soviet Writers

To the Secretariat of the Union of Soviet Writers:

I have read Solzhenitsyn's Feast of the Conquerors and In the First Circle.

What is striking--if one can use the expression--is the sickly shamelessness of the author. Solzhenitsyn not only makes no attempt to hide or somehow veil his anti-Soviet views; but he underlines them, puts them on display, taking the pose of a "truth-seeker", a man who, unashamed, "cuts into the heart of truth", and who--spitefully and in a frenzy--points out all the mistakes and all the blunders permitted by the Party and Soviet power beginning in the 1930s.

As regards the form of the play, it is feeble and foolish. Can you really write about such tragic occurrences in the style of an operetta, with doggerel so primitive and weak that even the gymnasium students of past times, infected with the poetic itch, would avoid! About the contents there is nothing to say. All the commanders, Russian and Ukrainian, are either complete scoundrels or vacillating people who believe in nothing. How then, under these conditions, did the battery in which Solzhenitsyn served ever reach Konigsberg? Perhaps only through the personal efforts of the author?

Why in the battery from Feast of the Conquerors is everyone--with the exception of Nerzhin and the "demonic" Galina--useless and good for nothing? Why are Russian soldiers ("soldier-cooks") and Tartar soldiers ridiculed? Why are Vlasovites--traitors to the Motherland on whose conscience lie thousands of our dead and tormented soldiers--praised as those who express the hopes of the Russian people? The novel In the First Circle stands on this same political and artistic plane.

At one time I formed an impression of Solzhenitsyn (in part, after his letter to the congress of writers in May of this year), that he is an insane person, suffering from megalomania. That he, Solzhenitsyn, having served some time, did not withstand the harsh experience and popped a spring. I am not a psychiatrist and it is not my business to determine to what degree Solzhenitsyn's psyche has been infected. But if this is true, the man cannot be trusted with a pen; a malicious, insane person, who has lost control of his reason, living in the tragic events of 1937 and following years, poses a great danger to all readers, young ones in particular.

If Solzhenitsyn is psychologically normal, then he is, in essence, an open and malicious anti-Soviet person. In either case, Solzhenitsyn has no place in the ranks of the Union of Soviet Writers. I am unconditionally in favor of the exclusion of Solzhenitsyn from the Union of Soviet Writers.

M. Sholokhov

Translated by Eric Konkol

For more on Sholkhov, visit:
107 Years of Sholokhov
see also:
Biography of Mikhail Sholokhov

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