Friday, December 28, 2007


Today in 1973, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's mammoth 260,000-word history of the Soviet prison camp system, The Gulag Archipelago, was published in Paris, France. The book is based on Solzhenitsyn's experiences in the camps for eight years, as well as 227 other inmates he interviewed. When the book was released in the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was arrested and exiled, but he was also finally able to go to Sweden and collect the Nobel Prize in literature he had been awarded in 1970.

On this day in 1895, Auguste and Louis Lumiere demonstrated the first movie projector, the cinematographe, in Paris, France. It projected its images out onto a screen, unlike Thomas Edison's kinetograph, which was a peep show that the viewer looked into, and it weighed only 20 pounds compared to Edison's half-ton invention. The first film they showed was "Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory." The movie opened with a concierge unlocking the gates, showed people walking through, and ended with the concierge closing the gates again. They made more than 2,000 films like this, without plots or characters, and thought of them just as moving pictures, and despite the thousands of people who lined up at their viewings every night, the Lumieres thought that movies would be a passing fad and Auguste went off to school to become a medical scientist, and Louis went back to working on still photographs.

-The Writer's Almanac

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