Solzhenitsyn’s reception in the West traced a similar trajectory. Universal approval of his courage in confronting the Soviet leaders soon gave place to outspoken disapproval of what Western bien pensants considered to be his unenlightened view of the world. Disapproval turned to outrage when, on June 8, 1978, the Russian delivered a commencement address at Harvard University in which he indicted a West that showed unmistakable signs of decadence. The West’s freedom, he declared that day, had degenerated into license, its media filled minds and souls with

gossip

and nonsense, its popular culture served only to coarsen and degrade, its people exhibited an unthinking sympathy for socialism and an inability to recognize evil. All of this, he concluded, was rooted in a view of the world that “was born in the Renaissance and has found political expression since the Age of Enlightenment.”