On May 27, 1994, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia after 20 years of exile
. Solzhenitsyn (pronounced sol-zhen-EET-zihn
) was a dissident
, meaning he questioned and often disagreed with the authority
of the Soviet Union
, which was then the government
Solzhenitsyn had been a dissident almost his entire life. In 1945, he was sentenced to eight years in a gulag
, or Soviet work camp, for criticizing Soviet leader Josef Stalin. His first and best-known novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
, was based on Solzhenitsyn’s time in the gulag.
Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. His mammoth
, three-volume history of the prison system, The Gulag Archipelago
, was ban
ned in the Soviet Union, and Solzhenitsyn was exiled when the book was publish
in 1974. The author spent most of his exile in the U.S. state of Vermont.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia, where he embark
ed on a nationwide tour. True to form, he criticize
d the new Russian government, accusing it of political
and economic oppress
ion. Despite his dissent, he and Russian leader Vladimir Putin formed a friendship before Solzhenitsyn’s death in 2008.