Samizdat Update, July 1974 (32.21)

In March 1974, A.I. Solzhenitsyn published his “Letter to the Soviet Leaders”, which he had written earlier, on 5 September 1973. The letter aroused a great number of responses of the most varied nature. The first of these responses was by A.D. Sakharov, “On Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Letter to The Soviet Leaders”. In view of the undoubted interest of the developing discussion for the most varied circles of readers, the Chronicle proposes to deal with it in detail in one of its forthcoming issues.

[1] Live Not by the Lie: A collection dedicated to the Solzhenitsyn Affair, Moscow, 1974.

The collection covers the period from August 1973 to the end of February 1974. It presents critical reviews, publicistic statements, newspaper articles, and open letters and appeals about the publication of GULag Archipelago and the events connected with it. The material is copiously illustrated with extracts from GULag.

A short review of the collection has been circulated; extracts from it are quoted below.

“The book is in the traditional samizdat genre sometimes known as that of the ‘White Book’. [It] can be compared with Ginzburg‘s The Case of Sinyavsky and Daniel (1966), Natalya Gorbanevskaya’s Red Square at Noon (1969) and, to some extent, with Litvinov’s The Trial of the Four.

“As so often with books of this type, the breadth and contradictoriness of the opinions presented lead the reader to feel that a case has been proved; and the terseness of the author’s text, his marked preference for documents, and the heterogeneity of the material, give the work significance as an art form. The collection is, without a doubt, as much a literary event as it is a civic and socio-political act and a documentary record.

“‘The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’. The well-known formula is realized here not only in a moral and ethical sense, but aesthetically as well.”

*

[2] I.R. Shafarevich, “On Certain Tendencies in the Development of Mathematics”

A lecture on the occasion of the official presentation of the Heinemann prize of the Gottingen Academy of Sciences.

The eminent Soviet scholar, a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, believes that the development of mathematics, because of its lack of a single good, is resulting in an unlimited accumulation of ideas which in principle are equally profound.

However, mathematics “… is unable to work out, in addition, a concept of its own form; it is left with the ideal of totally unregulated growth, or, more accurately, expansion in all directions.” “Isn’t mathematics being transformed into a strikingly beautiful variant of Hegel’s ‘bad infinity’ ?” asks Shafarevich. “It is clear that such a development of knowledge rules out any sense of integrality or beauty.” The author believes that the problem can be solved in two ways. He decisively rejects the first, “to extract the purpose of mathematics from its practical applications”. In his opinion, the practical value of many brilliant discoveries of science is nil. Only one possibility remains: “The purpose of mathematics can be supplied not by a sphere of human activity that is lower in comparison to it, but by a higher sphere, religion”. Shafarevich illustrates the possibility of such a solution by looking at the history of the origins of mathematics in the Pythagorean School.

At present, Shafarevich contends, a similar problem has arisen in many branches of human culture. A solution of the problem for mathematics, he hopes “might serve as a model for the solution of the basic problem of our epoch: to find the higher religious purpose and meaning of the cultural activity of mankind.”

*

[3] V. Nekrasov, “Who Needs This?”

The writer Victor Nekrasov recounts the various forms of persecution he has endured over the last 11 years. A Party investigation into his personal activities and a strict reprimand in 1963 for On Both Sides of the Ocean, his essays on the USA; an investigation into his personal activities and a strict reprimand in 1969 for a letter in defence of the Ukrainian writer Chornovil and for his speech on the 25th anniversary of the massacre of Jews in Baby Yar; expulsion from the Party in 1972 “for allowing himself to have a personal opinion that does not coincide with the party line”; each time, in addition to prophylactic chats, explanations and a ‘working-over’, the investigation led to a halt in the publication of his works. {1}

In 1974, he suffered a humiliating search, the confiscation of his archives (including his draft manuscripts), followed by interrogation. Nekrasov talks about the vagueness and mutability of the concept ‘anti-Soviet’, about the right of an author to keep his own inviolable archive, about an author’s right to the confidence of his country. Disregard for these rights and the impossibility of writing and publishing one’s works at home lead eventually to emigration: Nekrasov names his friends who have left the country.

If the authorities want to get rid of the independent-minded intelligentsia in this way, says Nekrasov, it will lead to irreplaceable losses for the country and the people: “For KGB investigators can’t write books for us, can’t paint pictures or compose symphonies.” If the authorities really want to force people to betray their conscience in this manner … “No, it is far better for the reader to do without my books … The reader will wait. Not for lampoons and slander but for the truth. I will never degrade my reader by lying.”

*

[4] Veche, No 10, 19 April 1974 (153 typed pages)

Contents:

  • Report by the editors {*} ;
  • Statement by the editors, dated 14 March 1974;
  • Easter message from Patriarch Pimen of Moscow and All Russia;
  • “To Serve Russia Means to Bear its Cross”, by I. V. Ovchinnikov (editor-in-chief of No. 10);
  • “On the centenary of N. A. Berdyaev’s birth” (extracts from a collection of articles by Berdyaev, The Fate of Russia, Moscow, 1918);
  • “In Optina”, by V. Kapitanchuk (the author’s reflections on a trip to the Optina [Pustyn] monastery);
  • five poems by N. S. Gumilyov;
  • “Regarding the Polemics between Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn”, by A. Skuratov;
  • “On Russia’s ‘Colonialist’ Policy”, anonymous;
  • “On Certain Tendencies in the Development of Mathematics”, by I.R. Shafarevich (reprinted without the author’s knowledge); [see above]
  • two chapters from A. Skuratov’s book The Triumph of the Suicide Men;
  • the ending of A. Gavrilov’s short novel Bratsk-54
  • two poems by Oleg Okhapkin (it is before these poems that a puzzling statement by the editors has been inserted: “… the journal Veche reserves copyright; a special mention will be made when literary works are published with the author’s consent”);
  • “A Retort”, a reply to the commentary “The Russian National Opposition in the Soviet Union” transmitted by the [West German] radio station Deutsche Welle on 17 April 1974;
  • “Something about the Metamorphoses of Tastes and Opinions”, by V. Filatov (a polemic with B. Bursov’s article “Something about Tastes and Opinions”, Literary Gazette, No. 9, 1974);
  • letter to the editors of Veche from V. Veresov and their reply;
  • letter to the editors of Veche from M. Agursky and their reply

{*} See “About the Journal Veche in this issue (CCE 32.16).

The contents of this (evidently the most recent) issue of Veche, listed above, will not be presented in any detail for the moment.

As a significant part of them are connected with preceding issues of Veche, which have been only partially reflected in past issues of the Chronicle,[89] it would, clearly, be advisable to return to certain materials and to No 10 in a special review of the publication as a whole (Nos 1-10).

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NOTES

{1} Nekrasov‘s essays were published in Novy mir in late 1962; for the Chornovil letter see Michael Browne, ed, Ferment in the Ukraine, London, 1971, Doc. 30. See also P. Litvinov, The Demonstration in Pushkin Square, and CCE 5 for his signing of other protests in 1966 and 1968, and CHR, 1974 (Nos 7 & 8), for documents on his 1974 search, etc.