Counting the Cost
From dawn to dusk the correction and copying of the Gulag went forward; I could scarcely keep the pages moving fast enough. Then the typewriter started breaking down everyday, ... This was the most frightening moment of all: we had the only original manuscript and all the typed copies of Gulag there with us. If the KGB suddenly descended, the many-throated groan, the dying whisper of millions, the unspoken testament of those who had perished, would all be in their hands, and I would never be able to reconstruct it all, my brain would never be capable of it again.
I could have enjoyed myself so much, breathing the fresh air, resting, stretching my cramped limbs, but my duty to the dead permitted no such self-indulgence. They are dead. You are alive: do your duty. The world must know all about it.
They could take my children hostage – posing as “gangsters,” of course. (They did not know that we [my wife and I] had thought of this and made a superhuman decision: our children were no dearer to us than the memory of the millions done to death, and nothing could make us stop that book.)
Excerpt from The Oak and the Calf, 1975, A. Solzhenitsyn, English translation, 1979, 1980 by Harper and Row Publishers.
The Oak and the Calf:
The Gulag Archipelago: