Lana elborno

Lana Elborno 1-13-13 World Literature Final Essay Alexander Solzhenitsyn revolutionized the world of literature; he changed it from being about simply telling a story or just reiterating facts to exposing the truth and hoping to change the world. This began when Solzhenitsyn spoke out against the Russian government and was then sent to a prison camp in Siberia. He wrote about his experience in prison, and this was the first time anyone found out what was happening in the prison camps. Solzhenitsyn realized since no one knew about the cruelty in the prison camps, the violence kept taking place. But by him exposing the truth, he drew attention to the prison camps and stopped the violence. This then became his philosophy, that it was an author’s job to point out the lies and ills of the government, and then the lies and violence will stop. He made that clear in his speech for the Nobel Prize; he also stressed the importance of reading literature from different nations. He said that it allows people to understand different cultures and different backgrounds. The books and works that we have read in class, such as In Time of the Butterflies, Inspector General, Things Fall Apart, and Kite Runner help up to Solzhenitsyn’s standard because they exposed the faults in their governments and allowed the readers to gain more perspective about their history and culture. The books and works that most exemplified Solzhenitsyn’s ideals of exploiting a corrupt government were “ Babi Yar” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, In Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, and “ The Inspector General” by Nicolay Gogol. All of these works have something in common: they all bring the readers attention to an unknown event or situation. Before “ Babi Yar”, this execution of Jews in Kiev was never recognized. However, Yevtushenko revealed this tragedy and brought the death of 33, 000 Jews to justice. Also since all the evidence of Babi Yar was to be destroyed and the people who escaped the concentration camps were executed, Yevtushenko’s account is the only remembrance anyone would have of this massacre. This would live up to Solzhenitsyn’s standards because Yevtushenko brought justice to a tragedy that would not have been known if it was not for him. In Time of the Butterflies portrays a similar message in that it tells the reader about an unknown tragedy and corrupt government. The story talks about three sisters and how they lead and underground coup defy the Dominican Republican government to get rid of a dictator. This was a powerful dictatorship going on at the time; however, it was not on the radar of the United States because they were too busy dealing with Cuba. In a part in the book, Minerva drives back home with her father that has been incarcerated by the government for being late to a government dinner party, and at this point everything goes downhill for Minerva as her family becomes a target for the dictator, Trujillo. She says, “ We’ve traveled almost the full length of the island and can report that every corner of it is wet, every river overflows its banks, every rain barrel is filled to the brim, every wall washed clean of writing no one knows how to read anyway” (Alvarez 117). The rain is a physical representation of the theoretical storm that began for the Mirabel family when Minerva slapped Trujillo. The rain also represents Trujillo’s power because it is everywhere and it is overflowing and taking over the island just as Trujillo’s dictatorship. This was such a powerful and ruthless dictator that no one besides the Mirabel sisters did anything about, and that is what let the Dominican Republic become saturated with Trujillo’s power for so long. Alvarez shed light on these revolutionary sisters and published their stories. The other author that exposes his corrupt government is Nikolai Gogol. Instead of writing a real and solemn story, he portrays his government as being corrupt through a satirical and humorous play. He portrays the government as not being intelligent and not doing their job. For example, the governor makes sure the postmaster opened the mail to see when the inspector general was coming so everyone can clean up his or her act; this was no problem for the postmaster since he already reads all the mail. Another example of government officials not doing what they are supposed to is evident when the policeman talks about the whereabouts of another officer. He says, “ God knows. Yesterday there was a fight outside the town. He went to restore order and was brought back drunk” (Gogol 24). So while the policeman was supposedly restoring order in society, he needed to get drunk to do that? Though this play is funny; it also portrays a serious message that government officials do not do what they are supposed to do and simply act like they do when necessary. All of these pieces of literature live up to Solzhenitsyn’s standard in different ways of exposing the truth of a corrupt government in order to fix it. Another standard of Solzhenitsyn’s philosophy is the importance of reading world literature because it helps us understand different cultures and history. Two other books that we read this year that reaffirmed Solzhenitsyn were Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni. Things Fall Apart was a response to the book Heart of Darkness which portrayed Africans as savages and undeveloped. Achebe wanted to show that African tribes were in fact developed and had a justice system and deep traditions. He exhibits these traditions by inserting African proverbs throughout the story, and this shows that the African people have so much culture that they incorporate in everyday life. This also shows how intelligent the African people are because they made these philosophical and wise proverbs. Their traditions can be seen by the importance of wrestling in their tribe. Wrestling was held to a very high standard and the winner would be highly respected in the community, as was Okonkwo. The wrestling matches were like a festival; there were drums and dancers dancing around a “ big and ancient silk cotton tree, which was sacred. Spirits of good children lived in that tree waiting to be born” (Achebe 46). Spirits were also very important in this novel; they were the last judges in the court system. They also passed on messages of the future to the tribe. All of this shows how deeply rooted this tribe was in tradition and sophistication; so, it shuts down any implication that African tribes were undeveloped and animal-like. This book meets Solzhenitsyn’s standard because it clears up misconceptions made by ignorant people and it allows readers to see the history and culture of this African tribe that they otherwise would have not known. Kite Runner is another book that clears up misconceptions and teaches its readers about a culture that, because of the media and politics, may be scared to learn about. This book came out after September 11, 2001 and it was necessary because many people thought the entire Arab/Muslim world supported September 11 and were extremists and terrorists; however, this book made clear the Taliban is just as extreme and radical in the Arab/Muslim world as the United States. At the beginning of the book, we can see how Afghanistan was like before the Taliban came to power. Baba and Amir’s home was beautiful; they loved to host parties. Everyone in the neighborhood flew kites as sport, and everyone was happy, for the most part. However once the Taliban came to power, buildings got destroyed, people became very poor, and kite flying and anything else that was fun was banned. Extreme laws were implemented and no one was allowed to live their life. By writing this, Hosseni gives his readers some perspective and background to politics that are going on right now; so, we can understand that the Taliban is a very small extremist section of the Arab/Muslim world and it does not represent the whole region. Solzhenitsyn would approve of this book as it both exposes his readers to a different lifestyle and gives them perspective and on situations happening in the world today, but it also exposes a corrupt government. All in all, Solzhenitsyn believed that a story should have a message to improve society, not just tell a story about Sally walking home from school and then she saw tree. Solzhenitsyn approves of stories such as, In Time of the Butterflies and Kite Runner where the faults of government are brought out through a compelling story. He would also support works of literature like “ Babi Yar” or the “ Inspector General” that expose the truth and call out the government for not doing their job. So if I were to correct my story about sally to Solzhenitsyn’s standards, it would start with her walking home from school, climbing up the tree to save a cat because the fire department did not get there in time, and her protesting to city hall about the number of homeless cats in the neighborhood.