Here is the full text and summary of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Commencement Address titled “A WORLD SPLIT APART” at Harvard University on 8 June 1978.
Listen to the audio version here:
I am sincerely happy to be here on the occasion of the 327th commencement Harvard University June 8, 1978 of this old and most prestigious university. My congratulations and very best wishes to all of today’s graduates.
Harvard’s motto is “Veritas.” Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate our attention totally on its pursuit. But even while it eludes us, the illusion of knowing it still lingers and leads to many misunderstandings.
Also, truth seldom is pleasant. It is almost invariably bitter. There is some bitterness in my today’s speech, too. But I want to stress that it comes not from an adversary, but from a friend.
Three years ago in the United States, I said certain things which at that time appeared unacceptable. Today, however, many people agree with what I then said. The split in today’s world is perceptible even to a hasty glance. Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them already capable of entirely destroying the other.
However, understanding of the split often is limited to this political conception: that danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces. The truth is that the split is a much profounder and a more alienating one, that the rifts are more than one can see at first glance.