Solzhenitsyn and American Culture
The Russian Soul in the West
392 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268108250 | October 2020
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268108274 | October 2020
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268108281 | October 2020
For many Americans of both right and left political persuasions, the Russian bear is more of a bugbear. On the right, the country is still mentally represented by Soviet domination. For those on the left, it is a harbor for reactionary values and neo-imperial visions. The reality, however, is that, despite Russia’s political failures, its rich history of culture, religion, and philosophical reflection—even during the darkest days of the Gulag—have been a deposit of wisdom for American artists, religious thinkers, and political philosophers probing what it means to be human in America.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn stands out as the key figure in this conversation, as both a Russian literary giant and an exile from Russia living in America for two decades. This anthology reconsiders Solzhenitsyn’s work from a variety of perspectives—his faith, his politics, and the influences and context of his literature—to provide a prophetic vision for our current national confusion over universal ideals. In Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West, David P. Deavel and Jessica Hooten Wilson have collected essays from the foremost scholars and thinkers of comparative studies who have been tracking what Americans have borrowed and learned from Solzhenitsyn as well as his fellow Russians. The book offers a consideration of what we have in common—the truth, goodness, and beauty America has drawn from Russian culture and from masters such as Solzhenitsyn—and will suggest to readers what we can still learn and what we must preserve. The book will interest fans of Solzhenitsyn and scholars across the disciplines, and it can be used in courses on Solzhenitsyn or Russian literature more broadly.
Contributors: David P. Deavel, Jessica Hooten Wilson, Nathan Nielson, Eugene Vodolazkin, David Walsh, Matthew Lee Miller, Ralph C. Wood, Gary Saul Morson, Edward E. Ericson, Jr., Micah Mattix, Joseph Pearce, James F. Pontuso, Daniel J. Mahoney, William Jason Wallace, Lee Trepanier, Peter Leithart, Dale Peterson, Julianna Leachman, Walter G. Moss, and Jacob Howland.
David P. Deavel is visiting assistant professor of Catholic studies and co-director of the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and editor of LOGOS: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture.
Jessica Hooten Wilson is the Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence at the University of Dallas. She is the author of a number of books, including Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence.
“Solzhenitsyn and American Culture is a superb and coherent collection of essays.” —Lee Congdon, author of The Young Lukács
"Readers will be reminded of his courageous witness, but they will also discern more clearly Solzhenitsyn’s integral relation to Russian literary culture and to writers from the West with whom he bore deep affinities. Solzhenitsyn remains a prophetic intelligence for our time." —Paul J. Contino, co-editor of Bakhtin and Religion
"In reading Solzhenitsyn and American Culture, the mind is enlightened and honed, the will steeled, and our capacity for admiration exercised and nourished. Thanks to the editors and contributors to this volume, they continue to be Solzhenitsyn’s gifts to his American readers." —Paul Seaton, St. Mary's Seminary and University
"Solzhenitsyn and American Culture will deepen Solzhenitsyn's writings in America, which is sorely needed in our country that has ceased to see the purpose and is increasingly willingly to live by lies. We need the wisdom of Solzhenitsyn's reflections on tyranny, so that we can ascend with him to the true heights of man's greatness, which is only found, as he knew, in our Lord." —Richard M. Reinsch II, founding editor of Law and Liberty
"The editors have cast their net wide, so that it will be useful both to those who have read little of Solzhenitsyn (yet are looking for points of entry and orientation before plunging in) and for longtime students of his work—not only scholars (though there is plenty here for them to chew on), but also those blessed souls who read widely on their own dime." —First Things
“[W]ith the end of the Cold War, many journalists, academics, and intellectuals concluded that Solzhenitsyn was no longer relevant. This collection of essays strongly corrects this notion by shedding valuable light on the ‘oft-neglected merits of Solzhenitsyn’s work.’ Most importantly, it aims to consider the continuing relevance of Solzhenitsyn to American culture and politics.” —VoeglinView
“The contributors to this volume embrace Solzhenitsyn’s claim about art’s power to communicate ‘the experiences of [an] entire nation to another nation.’ Not only do they showcase ways in which Russian literature has already instructed Americans . . . but they encourage a new generation of American readers to turn to Russian writers for penetration and inspiration. Foremost among these writers, of course, is Solzhenitsyn.” —Law and Liberty
"Solzhenitsyn and American Culture could serve as an introduction to the writer’s literary work, as a kind of traveler’s guide read before vacation. Or it could be a valuable addition to the nightstand of anyone interested in deepening their knowledge of Solzhenitsyn. The book’s ultimate significance, however, is spiritual. In following Solzhenitsyn’s intellectual footsteps, in taking up his preoccupations with ideology, art, morality, and meaning, the book makes Solzhenitsyn himself into a passageway through which we glimpse the universal. " —Washington Examiner
“Solzhenitsyn and the American Culture should serve as a reminder to those of us in the West that civilization is fragile, that democracy and liberty are forever under attack, that visions of earthly utopias are mirages of danger . . .” —New York Journal of Books
"A new essay collection, 'Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West,' illuminates how the vaunted Russian writer's warnings about secularism and progressivism are as prescient and insightful as ever." —The Federalist
"The book amply demonstrates why Solzhenitsyn remains important to the American conversation in the twenty-first century." —Perspectives on Political Science
"The lesson that students should draw from the study of Solzhenitsyn’s works, and his great soul, is to resist the temptation of thinking that the demonic forces of famine, imprisonment, and mass murder in Russia could never happen in America or in the West." —Religion and Liberty
"The 21 essays contained in Solzhenitsyn and American Culture engage many dimensions of Solzhenitsyn's project in ways that illuminate his ongoing relevance for discerning the task of how to live with virtue and integrity in the cultural setting of contemporary America." —Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity
"This book can be of interest to readers who are familiar with Solzhenitsyn’s work and would like to know more about his impact on Western culture; it can also be of interest to readers who are not familiar with Solzhenitsyn and would like a reason to read him." —The Imaginative Conservative