Society & Culture

Fighting the Dragon With Solzhenitsyn

Do great men make history?  Or does history make great men?  One thing’s for sure: History sometimes smothers great men, as Thomas Gray suggests in his famous elegy written in a country churchyard, and as the rows of endless graves from Arlington to the Somme demonstrate with brutal candor.

“Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,” mused Gray, or “some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.”  How many great poets and writers, the equal of Milton in the gifts the Muse might have bestowed on them, were doomed to remain mute and inglorious in some “neglected spot” in Flanders?  Conversely, would Adolf Hitler have been “guiltless of his country’s blood” had he not been merely wounded at the battle of the Somme but died of his wounds?  These are moot points perhaps, but one wonders nonetheless how history might have changed if the fate of great men had been different.  How different, for instance, would the world have been had history, in the form of the Soviet monster, snuffed out the life of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn like a newly lit cigarette, as it snuffed out the lives of so many millions of others?  How different would it have been if Solzhenitsyn had poured out his blood when fighting for the Red Army on the Eastern Front, or been killed in the Soviet labor camps, worked to death like countless others, or had died of the cancer...

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