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Fourteen thousand poetry readers can’t be wrong—or can they?
[Solzhenitsyn] must have vividly remembered how in 1958, a few years before he himself was embraced by the Soviet literary establishment, a crowd of 14,000 was bused by the authorities to Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to denounce Pasternak as an enemy of the people after he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. One could describe this event as a paranoid manifestation of totalitarianism; but it also demonstrated how important the role of the writer was in the eyes of the ruling elite at that time. In the same year 14,000 had gathered (this time voluntarily) at a New England stadium to listen to T.S. Eliot. Poets ruled the world.
—Zinovy Zinik, “The Old Days,” TLS (March 9, 2007)