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Abstract

William H. Thornton undertakes in his article, "A Postmodern Solzhenitsyn?," to bring Solzhenitsyn in from the cold, critically speaking, by closing the gap between him and his many postmodern detractors. That gap has been premised on the rough equivalence of poststructuralism and postmodernism. The postmodern realism advanced in this study challenges not only Solzhenitsyn's critics but his own stated aversion to postmodernism. Operating on both a microhistorical and macrohistorical plane, Solzhenitsyn's literary historiography testifies to the awesome scope of the gulag while never losing sight of its human factor.The double vision of Solzhenitsyn's proto-postmodern referentiality, a simultaneous centering and decentering, is matched by his determination to keep the past as a creative force within the present and future. Here poststructural, anti-realist post-modernism becomes his adversary; for just as it attempts to comprehend the local in pristine isolation, never connecting the dots, so too it isolates the past. Solzhenitsyn accuses (anti-realist) postmodernism of recycling many of the same avant-garde tools of forgetfulness that were used ever so effectively early in the twentieth century to dismantle existing cultural values, and indeed the very category of the cultural as a setting for local meaning.

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