sábado, dezembro 28, 2013

O Arquipélago de Gulag foi publicado há 40 anos...

Arquipélago de Gulag é provavelmente a mais forte e a certamente a mais influente obra sobre como funcionavam os gulags (campos de concentração e de trabalho forçado na antiga União Soviética) nos tempos de Estaline.
Escrito por Alexander Soljenítsin, o livro de cerca de 600 páginas é uma narrativa sobre factos que foram presenciados pelo autor, prisioneiro durante onze anos, em Kolima, num dos campos do arquipélago, e por duzentas e trinta e sete pessoas, que confiaram as suas cartas e relatos ao autor.
Escrito entre 1958 a 1967, a obra foi publicada no ocidente (em Paris) no ano de 1973 (a 28 de dezembro) e circulou clandestinamente na União Soviética, numa versão minúscula, escondida, até à sua publicação oficial no ano de 1989.
"GULag" é um acrónimo em russo para o termo: "Direção Principal (ou Administração) dos Campos de Trabalho Corretivo" ("Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey"), um nome burocrático para este sistema de campos de concentração.
O título original em russo do livro era "Arkhipelag GULag". A palavra arquipélago relaciona-se ao sistema de campos de trabalho forçado espalhados por toda a União Soviética como uma vasta corrente de ilhas, conhecidas apenas por quem fosse destinado a visitá-las.

 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Vladivostok (1994)

Since the Soviet Union's dissolution and the formation of the Russian Federation, The Gulag Archipelago is included in the high school program in Russia as mandatory reading in 2009.
Structurally, the text is made up of seven sections divided (in most printed editions) into three volumes: parts 1–2, parts 3–4, and parts 5–7. At one level, the Gulag Archipelago traces the history of the Soviet concentration camp and forced labour system from 1918 to 1956, starting with V.I. Lenin's original decrees shortly after the October Revolution establishing the legal and practical frame for a slave labor economy, and a punitive concentration camp system. It describes and discusses the waves of purges, assembling the show trials in context of the development of the greater gulag system with particular attention to the legal and bureaucratic development.
The legal and historical narrative ends in 1956, the time of Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech at the 20th Party Congress of 1956 denouncing Stalin's personality cult, his autocratic power, and the surveillance that pervaded the Stalin era. Though the speech was not published in the USSR for a long time, it was a break with the most atrocious practices of the concentration camp system; Solzhenitsyn was aware, however, that the outlines of the gulag system had survived and could be revived and expanded by future leaders.
Despite the efforts by Solzhenitsyn and others to confront this Soviet system, the realities of the camps remained taboo into the 1980s. While Khrushchev, the Communist Party, and the Soviet Union's supporters in the West viewed the gulag as a deviation of Stalin, Solzhenitsyn and the opposition tended to view it as a systemic fault of Soviet political culture - an inevitable outcome of the Bolshevik political project.
Parallel to this historical and legal narrative, Solzhenitsyn follows the typical course of a zek (a slang term for inmate) through the concentration camp system, starting with arrest, show trial and initial internment; transport to the "archipelago"; treatment of prisoners and general living conditions; slave labor gangs and the technical prison camp system (where Andrei Sakharov and his team of prisoner-scientists developed the Soviet Union's first hydrogen bomb); camp rebellions and strikes (see Kengir uprising); the practice of internal exile following completion of the original prison sentence; and ultimate (but not guaranteed) release of the prisoner. Along the way, Solzhenitsyn's examination details the trivial and commonplace events of an average zek's life, as well as specific and noteworthy events during the history of the gulag system, including revolts and uprisings.
Aside from using his experiences as a zek at a scientific prison (a sharashka), the basis of the novel The First Circle (1968), Solzhenitsyn draws from the testimony of 227 fellow zeks, the first-hand accounts which base the work. One chapter of the third volume of the book is written by a prisoner named Georg Tenno, whose exploits enraptured Solzhenitsyn to the extent that he offered Tenno a position as co-author of the book; Tenno declined.
The sheer volume of firsthand testimony and primary documentation that Solzhenitsyn managed to assemble in The Gulag Archipelago made all subsequent Soviet and KGB attempts to discredit the work useless. Much of the impact of the treatise stems from the closely detailed stories of interrogation routines, prison indignities and (especially in section 3) camp massacres and inhuman practices.
There had been works about the Soviet prison/camp system before, and its existence was known to the Western public since the 1930s. However, never before had the wide reading public been brought face to face with the horrors of the Soviet system in this way. The controversy surrounding this text in particular was largely due to the way Solzhenitsyn definitively and painstakingly laid the theoretical, legal and practical origins of the gulag system at Lenin's feet, not Stalin's. According to Solzhenitsyn's testimony, Stalin merely amplified a concentration camp system that was already in place. This is significant, as many Western intellectuals viewed the Soviet concentration camp system as a "Stalinist aberration."
Solzhenitsyn argued that the Soviet government could not govern without the threat of imprisonment, and that the Soviet economy depended on the productivity of the forced labor camps, especially insofar as the development and construction of public works and infrastructure were concerned.
This put into doubt the entire moral standing of the Soviet system. In Western Europe the book came, in time, to force a rethinking of the historical role of Lenin. With The Gulag Archipelago, Lenin's political and historical legacy became problematic, and the fractions of Western communist parties who still based their economic and political ideology on Lenin were left with a heavy burden of proof against them. George F. Kennan, the influential U.S. diplomat, called The Gulag Archipelago, "the most powerful single indictment of a political regime ever to be levied in modern times."
In an Interview with German weekly Die Zeit British historian Orlando Figes claims that many gulag inmates he interviewed for his research identified so strongly with the book's contents that they became unable to distinguish between their own experiences and what they read. Thus, he claims "The Gulag Archipelago spoke for a whole nation and was the voice of all those who suffered".
After the KGB had confiscated Solzhenitsyn's materials in Moscow, during 1965-1967, the preparatory drafts of The Gulag Archipelago were turned into finished typescript in hiding at his friends' homes in Estonia. While in the KGB's Lubyanka Prison, Solzhenitsyn had befriended Arnold Susi, a lawyer and former Estonian Minister of Education. After completion, Solzhenitsyn's original handwritten script was kept hidden from the KGB in Estonia by Arnold Susi's daughter, Heli Susi, until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The KGB seized one of only three extant copies of the text still on Soviet soil. This was achieved by torturing Elizaveta Voronyanskaya, Solzhenitsyn's typist who knew where the typed copy was hidden; within days of her release by the KGB, she hanged herself on 3 August 1973.
Translated into English by American Thomas Whitney, the English and French translations of Volume I appeared in the spring and summer of 1974. Solzhenitsyn had been in touch with them about the upcoming publication, which he knew he could not put off much longer, but the final decision was taken by the YMCA Press itself with the author's implicit approval (two years previously, it had published August 1914).
Solzhenitsyn had wanted the manuscript to be published in Russia first, but knew this was impossible under conditions then extant. The international impact of the work was profound. Not only did it provoke a very vivid debate in the West, a mere six weeks after the work had left Parisian presses Solzhenitsyn himself was forced into exile.
Because possession of the manuscript incurred the risk of a long prison sentence for 'anti-Soviet activities', Solzhenitsyn never worked on the manuscript in complete form. Due to the KGB's constant surveillance of him, Solzhenitsyn only worked on parts of the manuscript at any one time, so as not to put the book as a whole into jeopardy if he happened to be arrested. For this reason, he secreted the various parts of the work throughout Moscow and the surrounding suburbs, in the care of trusted friends, and sometimes purportedly visiting them on social calls, but actually working on the manuscript in their homes. During much of this time, Solzhenitsyn lived at the dacha of the world-famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and due to the reputation and standing of the musician, even with Soviet authorities, he was reasonably safe from KGB searches there.
Solzhenitsyn did not think this series would be his defining work, as he considered it journalism and history rather than high literature. However, with the possible exception of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, it is his best-known and most popular work, at least in the West.
Finished in 1968, The Gulag Archipelago was microfilmed and smuggled out to Solzhenitsyn's main legal representative, Dr Kurt Heeb of Zürich, to await publication (a later paper copy, also smuggled out, was signed by Heinrich Böll at the foot of each page to prove against possible accusations of a falsified work).
Solzhenitsyn was aware that there was a wealth of material and perspectives that merited to be continued in the future, but he considered the book finished for his part. The royalties and sales income for the novel were transferred to the Solzhenitsyn Foundation for aid to former camp prisoners, and this fund, which had to work in secret in its native country, managed to transfer substantial amounts of money to those ends in the 1970s and 1980s.

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