D.M. Thomas’ Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life

Through current authors such as Os Guinness and Chuck Colson, interest in Solzhenitsyn continues to be cultivated in Evangelical circles. Interestingly, one may walk into any Family Christian Store and find the latest biography on Solzhenitsyn written by Roman Catholic author Joseph Pearce, a sign of his abiding influence. Truly, he is a man worthy of our consideration and, I would say, appreciation.

That being said, Thomas’s biography will disturb many Christians who perhaps have a white-washed view of Solzhenitsyn. While Thomas’s work has an overall laudatory tone about it, he does not shy away from Solzhenitsyn’s dark side: his affair and subsequent marriage to his mistress (his current wife), his harshness in dealing with those around him, his insensitivity to his first wife, and his temper. Yet he also highlights Solzhenitsyn’s strengths: his conversion to Christianity in the Russian Gulag, his ideological honesty, his dogged determination, his brilliant and fearless condemnation of Communism and Western materialism, his stringent and massively productive work schedule, and his genuine care over the fate of the world. What readers are left with is a picture of a deeply flawed and deeply determined man.

I am glad I read this book. In addition to having a more balanced understanding of this paradox of a man, I have a renewed appreciation of the fact that God uses broken vessels. There is much in Solzhenitsyn that is lamentable. There is much worthy of emulation. Read this book carefully and cautiously. You will be moved deeply by this story.

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