Tuesday, August 5

The "Hairy Polemicist"

From David Remnick's The Exile Returns:
Solzhenitsyn gave Americans little reason to relax or to admire themselves. Two of his supporters, the scholars John Ericson, of Calvin College, and John Dunlop, of the Hoover Institution, have compiled book-length collections of writing largely about the reaction to Solzhenitsyn in the West. Even in the years before Solzhenitsyn arrived in this country, the attacks came from high and low, and they were endless. In 1974, before becoming the main book critic at the Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley wrote for the Knight-Ridder chain that Solzhenitsyn was a “not-very-thinly-disguised Czarist.” Writing the next year in the Guardian, Simon Winchester referred to Solzhenitsyn as the “shaggy author” and the “hairy polemicist,” and declared that he had become “the darling of the redneck population.”
Reason quotes from what is apparently D. M. Thomas' Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life:
Simon Winchester, the English Guardian's Washington correspondent, praised Ford for his "reality and integrity" in denying a hearing to the "shaggy author," the "hairy polemicist" who had become the "darling of the redneck population" after talking for an hour and a half to thousands of "sagging beer bellies."

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