Solzhenitsyn Takes Up His "Cross"

New Book Focuses on Anti-Semitism in Russia

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MOSCOW, JULY 30, 2001 ( Alexander Solzhenitsyn says his latest book, on Russian-Jewish relations, is a «necessary cross» that he felt bound to take up in the twilight of his life.

The 82-year-old Nobel Prize winner said he wrote «Two Hundred Years Together» because one else had the courage to do it. It deals with anti-Semitism and is more of a historical scientific work than a literary volume.

The author´s reconstruction of history reveals the motives that helped spread anti-Jewish sentiment in Russia, after the latter began to annex parts of Poland in 1772 and deport more than 1 million Jews to the southernmost parts of the empire.

In addition to social and economic motives, there was a religious factor at work, Solzhenitsyn contends. The influence of Cabalist Judaism was dangerous for the Orthodox world, he says; moreover, the rigid fanaticism of the Talmudists gave rise to repeated occasions of ideological dispute, which led to rejection of Russian culture and to self-isolation.

Lastly, Solzhenitsyn argues that, from the second half of the 19th century onward, the opening of the Jews to prospects of reform in Russia was one of the factors that led to the outbreak of the 1917 Revolution.

Observers expect the book, of which only the first volume has been published, to open the Pandora´s box of the many contradictions of Russia´s relationships with other peoples and with the West.

The second volume, in preparation, will deal with the relations between the Russian Jewish world and the birth of the state of Israel.

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