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About the book
  • Published: 13 October 2014
  • ISBN: 9781846559266
  • Imprint: Harvill Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 312

Invisible Allies




Incapable of writing a dull line, Solzhenitsyn here produces a testimony that stands confidently beside The Oak and the Calf and his classic autobiography The Gulag Archipelago.

After his expulsion from Russia in 1974 for undermining the Communist regime, Solzhenitsyn wrote a secret record, while it was still fresh in his mind, of the courageous efforts of people who hid his writings and smuggled them to the West. Before the fall of Communism he could not have published Invisible Allies in conjunction with his memoir The Oak and the Calf without putting those friends in jeopardy. Now the facts may be revealed in this intimate account of the network of individuals who risked life and liberty to ensure that his works were concealed, circulated in "samizdat", and exported via illicit channels.

These conspirators, often unknown to one another, shared a devotion to the dissident writer's work and a hatred of an oppressive regime of censorship and denunciation. The circle was varied enough to include scholars and fellow writers, and also elderly babushkas who acted as couriers. With tenderness, respect and humour, Solzhenitsyn speaks of these partners in conspiracy: the women who typed copies of his works under the noses of prying neighbours; the journalists and diplomats who covertly carried microfilms across borders; the friends who hid various drafts of his works from the vigilance of the secret police.

  • Pub date: 13 October 2014
  • ISBN: 9781846559266
  • Imprint: Harvill Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 312

About the Author

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was born at Kislovodsk in 1918. After graduating at Rostov University in mathematics—he took a correspondence course in literature simultaneously—he was called up for the army. He served continuously at the front as a gunner and artillery officer, was twice decorated, commanded his battery, and reached the rank of captain. In early 1945 he was arrested in an East Prussian village and charged with making derogatory remarks about Stalin. For the next eight years he was in labor camps, at first in 'general' camps along with common criminals in the Arctic and later in Beria's 'special' camps for long-term prisoners. The particular camp described in his book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was in the region of Karaganda in northern Kazakhstan. Released in 1953, on Stalin's death, Solzhenitsyn had to remain in exile for three years although his wife was allowed to join him, before returning to Russia. He settled near Ryazan and taught in a secondary school. In 1961 he submitted his novel, One Day ..., to Aleksandr Tvardovsky, the poet and editor of Novy Mir (New World), a literary journal; it was published, on the final decision of Khrushchev himself, in the November 1962 edition of Novy Mir, which sold out immediately.

Three further stories by him were published during 1963 and a fourth in 1966. In 1968 Solzhenitsyn came under attack from the Russian Literary Gazette, which alleged that since 1967 his aim in life had been to oppose the basic principles of Soviet literature, and accused him of being content with the role given him by ideological enemies of Russia. He was expelled from the Soviet Writers' Union in 1969 and in 1974, after the publication in Europe of his book The Gulag Archipelago, he was arrested by the authorities and deported. August 1914, Cancer Ward, The Love-girl and the Innocent (a play), Matryona's House and Other Stories, Candle in the Wind (a play) and Lenin in Zurich are all published by Penguin. The Red Wheel series—of which August 1914 is the initial volume—is his most recent work. In 1970 Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

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