Thursday, April 4, 2013
Cavendish Farewell Speech 2/28/94
The following speech was given by Alexksandr Solzhenitsyn and interpreted by his son Stephan.
Citizens of Cavendish, our dear neighbors,
At town meeting seventeen years ago I told you about my exile and explained the necessary steps which I took to ensure a calm working environment, without the burden of constant visitors.
You were very understanding; you forgave my unusual way of life, and even took it upon yourselves to protect my privacy. For this, I have been grateful throughout all these years; and today, as my stay here comes to an end, I thank you. Your kindness and cooperation helped to create the best possible conditions for my work.
The eighteen years which I have spent here have been the most productive of my life. I have written absolutely everything I wanted to. I offer today those of my books that have been translated into English to the town library.
Our children grew up and went to school here, alongside your children. For them, Vermont is home. Indeed, our whole family has come to feel at home among you. Exile is always difficult, and yet I could not imagined a better place to live, and wait, and wait for my return home than Cavendish.
And so this spring in May, my wife and I are going back to Russia, which is going through one of the most difficult periods in its entire history-a period of rampart poverty, a period where standards of human decency have fallen, a period of lawlessness and economic chaos. That is the painful practice we had to pay to rid ourselves of Communism, during whose seventy-year reign of terror sixty million people died just from the regime’s war on its own nation. I hope that I can be of at least some small help to my tortured nation, although it is impossible to predict how successful my efforts will be. Besides, I am not young.
I have observed here in Cavendish, and in the surrounding towns the sensible and sure process of grassroots democracy where the local population decides most of its problems on its own, not waiting for the decision of higher authorities. Alas, this we still do not have in Russia, and that is our greatest shortcoming.
Our sons will complete their education in America, and the house in Cavendish will remain their home.
Lately, while I have been walking on the nearby roads, taking in the surroundings with a farewell glance, I have found every meeting with many of you to be warm and friendly.