Professor Gary Saul Morson’s essay “How the great truth dawned” leads off the September issue of The New Criterion. It’s not terribly long, but it must be the longest article ever published by the magazine, and you can easily see why. It is brilliant and moving. Beginning and ending with Solzhenitsyn, it takes up the Gulag, Communism, mass murder, Russian literature, the turn to God and much more. I want to recommend it to your attention in case you might find it of interest. This is a great essay.
Quotable quote (almost completely arbitrary) : “The great truth dawned: unexpectedly, astonishingly, this harrowing story of cattle cars and the secret brand has a redemptive ending. A person—not a hero, just a flawed person—finds faith. Everybody has been indoctrinated with the slogan that, in a material world where nothing beyond the laws of nature exists, ‘The result is all that counts.’ But camp experience taught that that was a lie. ‘It is not the result that counts . . . but the spirit!‘ Once you realize this, ‘then imprisonment begins to transform your character in an astonishing way.’ You begin to appreciate friendship differently. Recognizing your own weakness, you understand the weakness of others. When another prisoner relates how he became a Christian, Solzhenitsyn recognizes that when he had been most certain he was doing good he was actually doing evil. He understands ‘the truths of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (every human being).’”