Research article
Issue: № 1 (29), 2022


The article examines the publicist aphorisms of A.I. Solzhenitsyn; the subject matter, structural characteristics of his sayings, and also defines the essence of the linguistics of aphorism, describes the mechanism for extracting introductory aphorisms from texts. We recognize as aphorisms stable utterances of phraseological type that have such features as: the presence of concept words (keywords) in the structure; brevity; passportization; reproducibility. The paper analyzes the corpus of A.I. Solzhenitsyn's publicist aphorisms, numbering over 90 units. The main themes of Solzhenitsyn's aphorisms are: morality, love for one's neighbor, God, justice, national life, self-restraint, democracy, Russia, personality, totalitarianism, patriotism, history, etc. The center of Solzhenitsyn's aphoristic heritage is moral and social problems, characteristics of the value paradigm of the Russian people. Solzhenitsyn's aphoristics, while remaining relevant at the present time, essentially points out the way of improving Russia, the development of the ethnos, and offers a national idea for our Fatherland.


The work of A.I. Solzhenitsyn represents a special page of Russian literature. All the works of the writer are deeply national, connected with Russian history and culture; Solzhenitsyn comprehended the tragic Russian history of the XX century. In his works of art, the author has thoroughly and unhurriedly created a monumental picture of Russian life during the October Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Patriotic War, the terrible pages of the Gulag. All the works are a harsh historical and social epic, comparable only to Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the Human Comedy by Honore de Balzac, Theodore Dreiser's Trilogy of Desire.

Solzhenitsyn managed to become the conscience of the Russian intelligentsia, vividly responding in publicist texts to everything that happened in our Fatherland. The writer considered publicist texts as a means of fighting for freedom and justice, honestly expressing his own position.

In all Solzhenitsyn's works there are thematic dominants, often expressed aphoristically. The basis of the writer's aphoristics is the whole human life and the history of the country with deep contradictions. The theme of Solzhenitsyn's aphoristics summarizes the main ideological foundations of his works.

It should be noted that in the aphoristics of A.I. Solzhenitsyn, as in the aphoristic heritage of any author, the historical and national-cultural component is important, since the sayings illustrate the author's worldview, his belonging to a special national linguistic culture. At the same time, it should be pointed out that the aphoristics of all countries and peoples as a whole is characterized by a reflection of universal values, the so-called universals. For example, the sayings of the authors of antiquity contain many universal truths that are present in the Russian classical aphoristics of the XIXth century. These are sayings about work, friendship, love, the value of human life, about truth, etc.

Aphorisms are contained both in literary texts and in Solzhenitsyn's publicist works. In general, it should be noted that he tended to an aphoristic style of presentation. It should be noted that this stylistic feature is not inherent in all writers of the XXth century.

Before considering the thematic features of Solzhenitsyn's aphoristics, it is necessary to clarify the actual concept of aphorism as a special linguistic phenomenon.

The study of aphoristics is a big complex problem, since to date there is no uniformity of interpretation of the concept of aphorism, although hundreds of works have been written about aphoristics, among which we will name the works of: S.G. Gavrin [2], A.A. Potebnya [9], E.E. Ivanov [5], N.T. Fedorenko, L.I. Sokolskaya [16], K.M. Tangir [15], A.V. Korolkova [6], Yu.E. Prokhorov [10], [11], E.M. Vereshchagin, V.G. Kostomarov [1], etc. Among the works that systematize ideas about aphoristics, we will call The Linguistics of Aphorism. Textbook compiled by a Belarusian scientist, a specialist in the field of aphoristics, E.E. Ivanov [5]. This book contains excerpts from several dozen of the most significant works on the theory of aphorism.

In general, the study of the nature of aphorism can be schematically divided into several areas: linguistic and linguoculturological analysis, literary study of aphorisms, philosophical comprehension of the essence of aphorism.

Aphorisms, in our opinion, are a very subtle linguistic and literary category that can express the philosophical and ideological concept vision of the authors.

For the convenience of analyzing a specific aphoristic material (Solzhenitsyn's aphoristics), we clarify that the aphorism has mandatory properties and features, such as: "the presence of concept words (keywords) in the structure, brevity, passportization, reproducibility" [6, p.37]. This approach, largely determined to the need to extract and systematize the author's sayings, allows you to create dictionaries of aphorisms [7].

Currently, it is not disputed that aphorisms are divided into detached and introductory, i.e. located in the structure of a text. Detached ones are those aphorisms that the author himself singled out and defined as an aphorism, in some cases combined into collections (the concept theory of Fedorenko and Sokolskaya) [16].

Solzhenitsyn's aphorisms are mostly introductory, they must be extracted from his literary texts, from publicist works, from correspondence. For analysis in this article, aphorisms were extracted from the most significant and widely known publicist texts.

It is also necessary to clarify how Solzhenitsyn's aphorisms were extracted from the texts and how their volume was identified.

In each aphoristic unit, the keywords (thematic and semantic dominants of the utterance) were distinguished, the utterance was built around them. Thanks to the keywords, aphorisms were extracted from the text.

In general, when analysing Solzhenitsyn's aphoristics (as well as aphoristics of many writers, poets, scientists, public figures) it becomes obvious that the keywords of aphorisms correspond to the basic concepts of Russian linguoculture.

As for the volume, we limit the saying to three sentences. Sometimes in Solzhenitsyn's texts aphorisms are broader in volume, in this case they should be considered aphoristic utterances. For example, most of the Crumbs are typical aphoristic utterances. In general, it should be noted right away that Solzhenitsyn's aphoristic legacy contains much more aphoristic utterances than classical short aphorisms-sayings.


Methods and principles of research

Semantic analysis of the corpus of aphorisms recorded in the Dictionary of Aphorisms of Russian Writers [7], as well as on the portal Alexander Solzhenitsyn. When extracting aphorisms from Solzhenitsyn's publicist texts to fix them in the dictionary, the method of selecting keywords-concepts as part of the utterance was used.


Text of article

Before examining the aphoristic legacy of A.I. Solzhenitsyn in terms of analyzing Christian motives, it should be noted that the theme of Christianity in works of fiction is considered in the works of both literary critics and linguists in great detail. For example, in 2007, the Saratov State University named after N.G. Chernyshevsky defended a dissertation for the degree of Candidate of Philological Sciences Garkavenko O.V. Christian motives in the works of A.I. Solzhenitsyn [3].

However, there are practically no works in which the Christian motives of A.I. Solzhenitsyn's journalism would be considered. Trying to fill this gap, the authors of the article analyzed the publicist texts of A.I. Solzhenitsyn, highlighting mainly those in which the main theme is the writer's reflection on Christianity. Among them we will indicate A Lenten letter to the All-Russian Patriarch Pimen [12], How we can equip Russia [13], Repentance and self-restraint as categories of national life [14].

Solzhenitsyn's aphoristic legacy is very extensive. Solzhenitsyn's aphorisms generally touch on the so-called "eternal themes", which have been known since ancient times both in literature and in aphoristics, namely socio-political, moral and ethical, professional, philosophical problems, sometimes vital everyday ones.

In aphorisms about the universal values of humanity, fundamental novelty is not important. The corpus of Solzhenitsyn's aphorisms, like of many other writers, includes sayings about love, friendship, life and death, eternity, moral choice, moral values. Sayings of this kind have been known to mankind since ancient times. However, Solzhenitsyn's aphoristics allows us to look at the "eternal problems" in a different way. The most important element of such sayings is a deep originality and uniqueness, which are associated with a specific historical moment and an individual picture of the world.

At the beginning of the study, it should be pointed out that in the aphoristic heritage of Solzhenitsyn's publicist work there are practically no sayings of a humorous or even ironic nature, this fact is explained by the complexity and depth of the problems raised, the philosophical understanding of the value paradigm of the Russian ethnos.

The main themes of publicist aphorisms (which are expressed by keywords-concepts) are: morality, love for one's neighbour, God, justice, national life, self-restraint, democracy, Russia, personality, totalitarianism, patriotism, history and others.

They introduce Solzhenitsyn's aphorisms into the corresponding phraseosemantic fields of Russian culture.

In Solzhenitsyn's publicist aphoristics, the theme of Christianity, the understanding of historical processes in Russia from the point of view of the Christian, Orthodox worldview, sounds in a special way, which is immediately reflected in the keywords of his sayings. All the writer's sayings extracted from publicist texts can be attributed to various phraseosemantic fields.

Let us clarify that by the phraseosemantic field we mean a set of phraseological units united by a common seme (key, nuclear) lexeme. In the theoretical characterization of the phraseosemantic group, we point out that we join the position of Yu.A. Gvozdarev, who stated that "a phraseosemantic group means a number of phraseological units of a given language that are in systemic relations (synonymic-antonymic), united by a common integrating archiseme" [4, P. 48].

Let us analyse the main phraseosemantic fields of Solzhenitsyn's publicist aphorisms. All of them correspond to the main theme of the writer's publicist aphoristic heritage – the Christian view of historical processes in Russia.

Firstly, this is a phraseosemantic field, which can be conditionally called "morality".

According to Solzhenitsyn, morality is necessary for any nation, without it the productive development of any nation is impossible. Morality, and hence moral qualities, such as self-restraint, the pursuit of truth, the ability to repent, the ability to live an absolute spiritual life. Moreover, these qualities are inherent, according to the writer's concept vision, not only to an individual, but also to entire nations.

«Нравственное начало должно стоять выше, чем юридическое. Справедливость – это соответствие с нравственным правом прежде, чем с юридическим» ("The moral principle should be higher than the legal one. Justice is conformity with moral law before with legal law") [13].


«Нации – живейшие образования, доступные всем нравственным чувствам и, как ни мучителен этот шаг, – так же и раскаянию» ("Nations are the most lively formations accessible to all moral feelings and, no matter how painful this step is, so is repentance") [14].

One of the most important qualities of both a nation and a person in Solzhenitsyn is the ability to repent, comprehend mistakes, purify oneself and move on without doing anything else like that.

One of Solzhenitsyn's articles is called Repentance and Self-restraint as a Category of National Life, it contains a lot of sayings.

For example:

«Труден ли, легок ли вообще этот перенос индивидуальных человеческих качеств на общество – он труден безмерно, когда желаемое нравственное свойство самими-то отдельными людьми почти нацело отброшено. Так – с раскаянием. Дар раскаяния, может быть, более всего отличающий человека от животного мира, глубже всего и утерян современным человеком. Мы повально устыдились этого чувства, и всё менее на Земле заметно его воздействие на общественную жизнь. Раскаяние утеряно всем нашим ожесточенным и суматошным веком» ("Whether this transfer of individual human qualities to society is difficult or easy at all – it is immensely difficult when the desired moral property is almost completely discarded by individual people themselves. So - with repentance. The gift of repentance, perhaps most distinguishing man from the animal world, is most deeply lost by modern man. We are overwhelmingly ashamed of this feeling, and its impact on public life is becoming less noticeable on Earth. Repentance has been lost throughout our bitter and hectic age") [14].

This aphoristic utterance of five sentences can be considered as one of the main moral postulates of Solzhenitsyn. Not only the people involved in the multiple moral crimes of our hectic age should repent, but each of us should repent, realizing our own moral imperfection.

Secondly, the phraseosemantic field closely connected with the field "morality" is "Russia, Russian spirit, Russian soil", which includes the phraseosemantic group "nation, nationality".

For Solzhenitsyn, Russia is both a holy Fatherland and a sacred sacrifice. Russia and, accordingly, the entire nation must purge itself of the past, realize its tragedy, repent and choose a different spiritual and moral path, the path to God. The writer regrets the tragic past of Russia, calls on all its citizens to realize this tragedy and go forward, taking the best. He calls on fellow citizens to purify themselves morally, otherwise it is impossible to build a better future for their children.

«Индивидуальное выражение общего раскаяния не только спорно по представительности – насколько выразитель его полномочен. Оно и чрезвычайно тяжело для самих выразителей: в отличие от раскаяния индивидуального, где советы посторонних и даже близких не могут иметь для тебя веса, коль скоро в это состояние ты уже вступил душою, – тот, кто взялся выразить раскаяние национальное, всегда будет подвергаться веским отговорам, укорам, предостережениям: как бы не опозорить свою страну, как бы не дать пищу ее врагам.» ("The individual expression of general repentance is not only controversial in terms of representativeness – as far as its spokesman is authorized. It is also extremely difficult for the spokesmen themselves: unlike individual repentance, where the advice of outsiders and even relatives cannot have weight for you, since you have already entered this state with your soul, the one who undertook to express national repentance will always be subjected to weighty excuses, reproaches, warnings: how not to disgrace his country, how not to give food to its enemies.") [14].

The given example is a complex syntactic unit that makes up an aphoristic utterance of four different types of sentences.

Another example of a saying demonstrating the writer's faith in a better future for his Fatherland, which can be achieved and built only by following the path of moral self-improvement.

«Только через полосу раскаяния множества лиц могут быть очищены русский воздух, русская почва, и тогда сумеет расти новая здоровая национальная жизнь. По слою лживому, неверному, закоренеломучистого вырастить нельзя.» (“Russian air and soil can be cleansed only through the repentance of many people, and then a new healthy national life will be able to grow. Using the false, unfaithful, inveterate layer, it is impossible to grow a pure one.") [14].

Thirdly, a significant phraseosemantic field in terms of the number of aphoristic units is the field "history", which includes the phraseosemantic groups "totalitarianism", "democracy", "modern political life".

Analysing the history of Russia, Solzhenitsyn aphoristically draws attention to the tragedy of a nation that survived a totalitarian regime that made sacred sacrifices.

«Одна из особенностей русской истории, что в ней всегда, и до нынешнего времени, поддерживалась такая направленность злодеяний: в массовом виде и преимущественно мы причиняли их не вовне, а внутрь, не другим, а – своим же, себе самим.» ("One of the features of Russian history is that it has always, and up to the present time, maintained such a focus of atrocities: in a mass form and mainly we inflicted them not externally, but internally, not to others, but to our own, to ourselves.") [14].

Currently, many of Solzhenitsyn's aphorisms and aphoristic utterances sound prophetic, he really foresaw the historical dangers that lie in the new democratic and free path of Russia's development, he understood that this path is inevitable, but it is quite dangerous for both the nation and the state. Reflecting on the democratic path of development of Europe, the writer pointed out that democratic freedom of an immoral beginning leads to national tragedies.

«Изначальная европейская демократия была напоена чувством христианской ответственности, самодисциплины. Однако постепенно эти духовные основы выветриваются. Духовная независимость притесняется, пригибается диктатурой пошлости, моды и групповых интересов. Мы входим в демократию не в самую ее здоровую пору.» ("The original European democracy was imbued with a sense of Christian responsibility, self-discipline. However, gradually these spiritual foundations are eroding. Spiritual independence is oppressed, bent down by the dictatorship of vulgarity, fashion and group interests. We are entering democracy not at its healthiest time.") [13].

Further, it should be pointed out that the phraseosemantic field "God/Christ" is significant in terms of the number of units, which includes the phraseosemantic groups "church", "sin", "truth" (as striving for the divine ideal), "Miracle" (Divine miracle), etc.

For Solzhenitsyn, God, the pursuit of the divine ideal, moral perfection for both the individual and the nation as a whole is the only possible fruitful path of development of the nation, the state.

«За три четверти века так выбедняли мы, засквернели, так устали, так отчаялись, что у многих опускаются руки, и уже кажется: только вмешательство Неба может нас спасти. Но не посылается Чудо тем, кто не силится ему навстречу. И судьба наших детей, и наша воля к жизни, и наше тысячелетнее прошлое, и дух наших предков, перелившийся же как-то в нас, – помогут найти силы преодолеть и это, и это все.» ("For three quarters of a century, we have become so pale, so dirty, so tired, so desperate that many people give up, and it already seems that only the intervention of Heaven can save us. But a Miracle is not sent to those who do not try to meet it. And the fate of our children, and our will to live, and our millennial past, and the spirit of our ancestors, which somehow overflowed into us, will help us find the strength to overcome this, and that's all.") [13].

Solzhenitsyn expresses his deep conviction that the future of Russia depends on the true faith, on the desire of the nation for self-improvement, on the position of the Church. «Изучение русской истории последних веков убеждает, что вся она потекла бы несравненно человечнее и взаимосогласнее, если бы Церковь не отреклась от своей самостоятельности и народ слушал бы голос ее.» ("The study of Russian history of the last centuries convinces that it would have flowed incomparably more human and mutually consistent if the Church had not renounced its independence and the people would have listened to its voice.") [12].



In the aphoristic legacy of Solzhenitsyn's publicist work, we observe an amazing correlation of deep moral truths, instructiveness, edification, reflections on the fate of the Fatherland, Russian history, the Russian nation, and the moral path of the country and people. The writer in aphorisms and aphoristic statements offers his own vision of the path of Russia, the path of the revival of the Russian nation, which is unthinkable without referring to the Christian ideals of moral self-improvement.

Solzhenitsyn's aphoristics essentially points out the way to improve Russia, the development of the ethnos, and offers a national idea for our Fatherland.

To conclude the discussion about the profound aphoristics of Solzhenitsyn's maxims and generalizations let us give a remarkable aphorism that is consonant with our time.

«В конце концов истинная и глубокая судьба нашей страны зависит от того, окончательно ли укрепится в народном понимании правота силы или очистится от затменья и снова засияет сила правоты? Сумеем ли мы восстановить в себе хоть некоторые христианские черты или дотеряем их все до конца и отдадимся расчетам самосохранения и выгоды?» ("In the end, the true and profound fate of our country depends on whether the rightness of power will finally strengthen in the national understanding or will the eclipse be cleared and the power of rightness will shine again. Will we be able to restore at least some Christian traits in ourselves, or will we finish them all to the end and give ourselves up to calculations of self-preservation and profit.") [13].



In this study, the corpus of A.I. Solzhenitsyn's publicist aphorisms numbering over 90 units is analysed.

Solzhenitsyn's publicist aphorism has not lost its acute social orientation at the present time, since the issues of preserving the spiritual heritage of the ethnos remain relevant today.

The subject matter of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's publicist aphorisms allows us to take a different look at his ideological dominants, to discover new facets of his creative linguistic personality, to comprehend the explicit and implicit content side of his texts in a new way.

The value paradigm of Solzhenitsyn's aphoristics is imbued with Christian motives, it is a unique example of how in modern conditions it is possible to rethink and preserve national history, while simultaneously perceiving universal values and truths.


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