"He wrote, that while an ordinary man was obliged 'not to participate in lies,' artists had greater responsibilities. 'It is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!'"
That's from the NYT last week, after Solzhenitsyn died. Mainly I remember how he and his bone-shattering books embarrassed the liberal intelligentsia in the 1980s, when I lived in Boston among, but not of, the Cambridge cognoscenti. They didn't like his shamelessly truthful chronicles of the great failure of the Soviet experiment -- such as One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Gulag Archipelago, or even Cancer Ward. They spoke of his work as "fiction."
Russians have a saying, "Eat bread and salt and speak the truth." Solzehnitsyn was a blunt and truthful witness and that's worth more than a hundred witty and cultured Cambridge cognoscenti.