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This article is taken from PN Review 2, Volume 4 Number 2, January - March 1978.

Between Isaiah and Job Octavio Paz

This essay was published twenty months after Paz's first essay on Solzhenitsyn, included in PNR 1. It ex-tends some of the arguments advanced in that piece and distinguishes between Solzhenitsyn the witness and Solzhenitsyn the social theorist.

SOME WRITERS and journalists, in Mexico and elsewhere in America and Europe, have criticized with a certain harshness things-some of them admittedly far of the mark-that Solzhenitsyn has said in recent months. The tone of these recriminations, ranging from the vindictive to the relieved 'I told you so', is that of the man who has had a weight lifted from his shoulders: 'Ah, that explains it all, Solzhenitsyn is a reactionary . . .' This attitude is another indication that the attacks against the revelations about the totalitarian soviet system which the writer has made were accepted à contre coeur by many western and Latin American intellectuals. It's hardly surprising: the Bolshevik myth, the faith in the essential purity and good will of the Soviet Union, above and beyond its failures and errors, is a superstition not easily eradicated. The ancient theological distinction between substance and accident continues to serve our century's believers with the same efficacity that it did in the Middle Ages: the substance is Marxist-Leninism and the accident is Stalinism. That's why, when Solzhenitsyn's early books were published, the brilliant, casuistical Lukács tried to turn their author into a 'socialist realist', that is, a dissident within the Church. But Solzhenitsyn's emergence-not only his, but the appearance of ...


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