The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956

December 28, 2014 · Posted in Famous Writers, Historic Crimes, Russian History, This Day in History · Comments Off on The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 

The first volume of The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956, a history and memoir of life in a Soviet Union prison camp, written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, was first published in Paris in the original Russian on Dec 28, 1973.

“… authorized for Western publication only after the Soviet secret police seized a copy of the manuscript last August, …”

The Soviets arrested Solzhenitsyn on February 12, 1974 taking away his citizenship and deporting him.

Solzhenitsyn warned the Russian people, citizens of a severely, censorial, 1973 Russia, in the preface of his book The Gulag Archipelago (a three-volume work), that they must consider the reading of his writings as a “very dangerous” act.

Learn more about life in Stalin’s Gulag.

Woody Guthrie’s Only Novel Published Posthumously

February 6, 2013 · Posted in America, Dust Bowl, Famous Writers, Oklahoma History · Comments Off on Woody Guthrie’s Only Novel Published Posthumously 

Though primarily a song writer and essayist, Oklahoma’s folk hero Woody Guthrie  also managed to write a work of fiction about the historic Dust Bowl.

The book “House of Earth” was released Febuary 5, 2013, decades after Woody’s death on October 3, 1967. According to Guthrie’s daughter, Nora Guthrie, “He always wrote to be heard.”

The historian Douglas Brinkley and actor Johnny Depp are helping to make his wish “to be heard” an even greater reality than already seen through his songs and essays.  Brinkley, while working on a biography of Bob Dylan, came across the unpublished novel in his research and made the decision to pursue bringing the work to life from out of the dust.


Dissident Poet From Hanoi Dies

October 13, 2012 · Posted in Famous Writers · Comments Off on Dissident Poet From Hanoi Dies 

Vietnamese poet Nguyen Chi Thien died October 2, 2012 in Santa Ana, California. Unlike other poets, he was denied a simple pen and piece of paper, much less a typewriter, by which to record his poetry.

The infamous prison, “Hanoi Hilton”, and the other prisons  of Vietnam in which he spent 27 years of his life, didn’t allow for the normal tools of the poet’s trade. Instead Mr. Thien had to memorize each poem in his head in hopes of one day being able to share them with the world.

Thankfully for us he gained that opportunity eventually escaping the horrors that the Communist Party of Vietnam meted out upon him. His crime for which he suffered miserably year after year, was the correcting of an error in a Vietnamese history book before a class of students. The textbook wrongly claimed that the Japanese surrendered under the Soviets in World War II instead of the United States.

In a poem from the collection, composed in prison camp in 1970, Mr. Thien wrote:

My poetry’s not mere poetry, no,

but it’s the sound of sobbing from a life,

the din of doors in a dark jail,

the wheeze of two poor wasted lungs,

the thud of earth tossed to bury dreams,

the clash of teeth all chattering from cold,

the cry of hunger from a stomach wrenching wild,

the helpless voice before so many wrecks.

All sounds of life half lived,

of death half died — no poetry, no.

Should Anyone Ask ( a poem he wrote while in prison in 1976)

Knowing that I am in jail, you would say:


Knowing that I have been hungry, you would say:

Food and warmth!

No, no, you would be wrong, for in the Communist land

All these things are chimera

Whoever would hope for them

Must kneel in front of the enemy.

In the long struggle against the prison

I have only poetry in my bosom,

And two paper-thin lungs

To fight the enemy, I cannot be a coward.

And to win him over, I must live a thousand autumns!

Source: Margalit Fox (7 October 2012). “Nguyen Chi Thien, Whose Poems Spoke Truth to Power, From a Cell, Dies at 73”. The New York Times.

George Bernard Shaw

September 29, 2012 · Posted in Church History, Famous Writers · Comments Off on George Bernard Shaw 

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)

An exceptionally talented Irish playwright, who authored more than 60 plays in his lifetime. Shaw and his wife, Charlotte Payne-Townshend, settled in Ayot St. Lawrence in a house now called Shaw’s Corner. He was preceeded in death by his wife and he lived on there, at Shaw’s corner, until his death at age 94.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar in (1938).

One of his plays was about the life of Saint Joan of Arc. The play, which is in the public domain, can be accessed below in pdf format:

Play by George Bernard Shaw  via Feedbooks