> No Westerner would call such a work “literary"
Why? There are plenty of works such as this in western literature.
> Russians revere literature more than anyone else in the world.
Again, I feel this claim is a bit baseless. Let's see why he thinks that:
> When Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina was being serialized, Dostoevsky, in a review of its latest installment, opined that “at last the existence of the Russian people has been justified.” t is hard to imagine Frenchmen or Englishmen, let alone Americans, even supposing that their existence required justification; but if they did, they would surely not point to a novel.
Well, this is the opinion of Dostoevsky, a writer. I'm sure similar hyperbolic comments were made by the french naturalists (Zola about Flaubert... ) or German idealists (about Goethe...)
Then the author proceeds to engage in other baseless generalizations about Russians' attitude to literature compared with other cultures.
I appreciate his insights on Russian literature in general and Solzhenitsyn vision in particular. But I do not understand why he needs to precede his text by such myopic comments.