In the end, she writes, although Solzhenitsyn the man was flawed, it's his words that were important. Very important.
They knew that they were true. How many authors, or any one else for that matter, say the truth?
In the week of his death, though, what stands out is not who Solzhenitsyn was but what he wrote. It is very easy, in a world where news is instant and photographs travel as quickly as they are taken, to forget how powerful, still, are written words. And Solzhenitsyn was, in the end, a writer: A man who gathered facts, sorted through them, tested them against his own experience, composed them into paragraphs and chapters. It was not his personality but his language that forced people to think more deeply about their values, their assumptions, their societies. It was not his television appearances that affected history but his words.
His manuscripts were read and pondered in silence, and the thought he put into them provoked his readers to think, too. In the end, his books mattered not because he was famous or notorious but because millions of Soviet citizens recognized themselves in his work: They read his books because they already knew that they were true.