Passages from Solzhenitsyn

January 2, 2013 - Leave a Response

So, I’m going to just share some beautiful passages from Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward:

“…it was Leo Tolstoy who had said about his brother, he had all the abilities but none of the defects of a real writer.” p 83

It was a universal law: everyone who acts breeds both good and evil. p. 90

on the power of the verb: It wasn’t dying, it was dropping dead. p.99

It all lacked that stable, deliberate continuity which gives stability to life, indeed gives life itself. p 158

…however comfortably you live in a big town, it isn’t the town you live with. p. 166

The cells of the heart which nature built for joy die through disuse. That small place in the breast which is faith’s cramped quarters remains untenanted for years and decays. p 263

If we stop loving animals, aren’t we bound to stop loving humans too?
The Kadmins loved their animals not for their fur but for themselves, and the animals absorbed their owners’ aura of kindness instantly, without any training. They deeply appreciated the Kadmins talking to them and could listen to them for hours. They valued their company and took pride in escorting them wherever they went… He soon adapted the humane principles of his new owners as a code of behavior. p. 273-276

Be happy with what you’ve got. In perpetuity? Why not? In perpetuity! p. 277

If your children are no better than you are, you have fathered them in vain, indeed you have lived in vain. p. 280

My friends, isn’t this a fine picture of our lives as prisoners? We are given nothing to accomplish, doomed to be stifled in ignominy, while the best left to us is a single reach of water which has not yet dried up, and the only memory of us will be the two little handfuls of water we hold out ot each other, as we held out human contact, conversation and help. p. 299

Stalin’s Plan for the Transformation of Nature p. 314 (further research)

on science: for settling squabbles about the structure of society, for educating the underdeveloped or for convincing the stupid. p. 316

on looking intently: The eyes seem to lose their protective-colored retina. The whole truth comes splashing out wordlessly, it cannot be contained. p. 336

The question seemed to have fallen flat, like an object passed carelessly, clumsily, from hand to hand And she hadn’t picked it up. p. 337 (beautiful)

There must be some people who think differently! p. 338

In those days people thought it a good thing to open people’s eyes… p. 338

Everything totted up in exact percentages…. physiology… p. 339

Yes, she was that little girl from his childhood, his school friend. Why hadn’t he recognized her before? p. 340

to be continued…….

continuing —

Suddenly your powerful arguments, unspoken because everywhere ridiculed and rejected, which are the little thread by which you hang all alone over a terrible chasm, turn out to be a rope of steel wire.

Being determines consciousness p. 377

For him to die before his talent had burst forth and found expression would be a much greater tragedy than an ordinary man’s death, in fact more tragic than the death of any other man in the ward. p. 381

(Shulubin) Values directed toward the mutual illumination of human souls. p. 383

not that she could have given her undivided attention to anything; it had been smashed to pieces now and would never be put together again. p. 425

The image he saw did not seem to be embodied in the work or activity which occupied them, which they believed was central to their lives, and by which they were known to others. The meaning of existence was to preserve unspoiled, undisturbed and undistorted the image of eternity with which each person is born.
Like a silver moon in a calm, still pond. p. 432

the only thing that stopped the cancer wing withering on the stem was the fact that they were … friends. p. 433

ethical socialism… p. 445 – 447

One should never direct people toward happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the marketplace. One should direct them toward mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to. If we care only about “happiness” and about reproducing our species, we shall merely crowd the earth senselessly and create a terrifying society. p. 447

his pain-racked eyes to light up with gratitude every time the doctors came on their rounds. p. 455