This essay is excerpted from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s forthcoming memoir, Between Two Millstones, Book 2: Exile in America, 1978–1994, translated into English for the first time by Clare Kitson and Melanie Moore. It is reprinted with permission from the University of Notre Dame Press. It is introduced here by Daniel J. Mahoney, who wrote the Foreword to the volume.

In the fall of 1982, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn received a letter asking him if he would accept the “Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.” Established in 1971 by the religious-minded financier John Templeton, the prize’s previous laureates included Mother Teresa and Billy Graham, and future ones Michael Novak and a host of prominent scientists who rejected the association of science with dogmatic materialism. The committee that nominated Solzhenitsyn made mention of two of his prayers, a song of praise chronicling his return to religious faith in “The Ascent,” the most spiritually and philosophically illuminating chapter in the whole of The Gulag Archipelago, and the prayer of gratitude to God he wrote shortly after the quasi-miraculous publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in the USSR in the fall of 1962.

This excerpt, drawn from the chapter entitled “Around Three Islands” (which also includes fascinating discussions

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