89 years in the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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The Independent Culture

11 December 1918

Born Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn in Kislovodsk, Russia

1940

Marries Natalya Reshetovskaia. She divorced him in 1950 before marrying him again in 1957. The two divorced finally in 1972.

1941

Graduates from Rostov University with a degree in mathematics, before joining the army to fight in the Second World War, reaching the rank of captain in the artillery.

February 1945

Arrested for criticising Stalin in letters to a school friend, even though the Russian leader's name had been disguised. He received a "mild sentence" of eight years in a labour camp.

1950

Transferred to the Special Camps for political prisoners where he worked as a miner, bricklayer and foundryman.

1953

Sent into internal exile in southern Kazakhstan

1956

He becomes a science teacher after Khrushchev era reforms lead to his release.

1962

Publishes the polemical novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, based on his years in captivity.

1964

Performances of his work are halted and his unpublished novel The First Circle is seized after Khrushchev is ousted.

1968

Completes his seminal work, The Gulag Archipelago, a history of the labour camps. His unpublished writings begin leaking to the West.

1970

Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature for One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The First Circle and The Cancer Ward. However, it wasn't until 1974, after he had been deported from the Soviet Union, that he was able to collect his prize from Stockholm.

1973

The first volume of The Gulag Archipelago is finally published in the Soviet Union. Like most of his work, it was quickly banned.

1974

Stripped of his Soviet citizenship and deported to West Germany.

1976

Moves to Cavendish, in southern Vermont, America, where he continues to write.

1977

Prussian Nights, a long narrative poem about the Red Army's advance into Prussia is published

1990

Solzhenitsyn's Soviet citizenship is restored.

1994

Finally returns home to Russia and addresses the state parliament, the Duma.

1998

A special celebration is held in Moscow for his 80th birthday.

2000

Releases Two Hundred Years Together, which covered the position of the Jews in Soviet society.

2006

The first Russian film based on his novels is shown on state TV.

2007

Awarded the Russian Federation State Prize by Vladimir Putin for humanitarian achievement.

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