Entertainment

Gulag Archipelago joins Russian curriculum

The Gulag Archipelago, once banned because of its portrayal of Soviet dissidents serving time in prison camps, is now required reading in Russian high schools.

The Gulag Archipelago, once banned because of its portrayal of Soviet dissidents serving time in prison camps, is now required reading in Russian high schools.

Parts of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's 1973 epic were added to the high school curriculum in a decision Wednesday by the Education Ministry.

The Education Ministry lauded the book for showing young students "vital historical and cultural heritage on the course of 20th-century domestic history."

The Gulag Archipelago is an unflinching account of torment and survival in the Soviet Union's gulag of camps that were filled with dissidents under Stalin.

The late Solzhenitsyn was one of those prisoners, sentenced in 1945 for writing comments critical of Stalin in a personal letter to a friend.

His novel shocked Russians by exposing the inhumanity and extent of the camps. Published in the West in 1973, it was banned in the Soviet Union and circulated in underground circles.

Solzhenitsyn spent 20 years in exile, and only returned to Russia in the early 1990s, after the country restored the citizenship it had revoked during his years overseas. He had been restored as a national hero before he died Aug. 3, 2008.

Russians students already study One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, his first-person account of life in a prison camp.

Matryona's Place, a novella about a freed prisoner on a collective farm that is also critical of the Soviet system, is also on high school reading lists.