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'[ The Gulag Archipelago] helped to bring down an empire. Its importance can hardly be exaggerated' Doris Lessing, Sunday Telegraph

WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY JORDAN B. PETERSON

A vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators but also of everyday heroism, The Gulag Archipelago is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's grand masterwork. Based on the testimony of some 200 survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn's own eleven years in labour camps and exile, it chronicles the story of those at the heart of the Soviet Union who opposed Stalin, and for whom the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair.

A thoroughly researched document and a feat of literary and imaginative power, this edition of The Gulag Archipelago was abridged into one volume at the author's wish and with his full co-operation.

'Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece... The Gulag Archipelago helped create the world we live in today' Anne Applebaum

THE OFFICIALLY APPROVED ABRIDGEMENT OF THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO VOLUMES I, II & III

516 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 1973

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About the author

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

411 books3,474 followers
also known as
Alexander Solzenitsyn (English, alternate)
Αλεξάντρ Σολζενίτσιν (Greek)

Works, including One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) and The Gulag Archipelago (1973-1975), of Soviet writer and dissident Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970, exposed the brutality of the labor camp system.

This known Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian best helped to make the world aware of the forced Gulag.

Exiled in 1974, he returned to Russia in 1994. Solzhenitsyn fathered of Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a conductor and pianist.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksan...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,158 reviews
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
December 5, 2008
Solzhenitsyn systematically goes through the horrors of the Soviet slave labour camps, one of the blackest chapters in world history. I read this book as a teenager, not long after it came out, and I was appalled that my parents had presented the Soviet Union as anything other than a monstrosity. For some reason, leftist people wouldn't properly admit it for a long time. I still can't quite understand why.

If you feel any shadow of sympathy for Soviet Russia, read Solzhenitsyn and you will be cured. One of the first myths he explodes is that it was all Stalin's fault, and that Lenin was basically a good guy. Lenin just happened to die early, so it wasn't as obvious that he was equally to blame. Solzhenitsyn recounts a comparatively minor and unknown incident from the revolution, where Lenin brutally orders some railway workers to be executed for not fully cooperating with the Bolsheviks. As he comments: just for this one episode, Lenin fully deserved to be shot. He was responsible for dozens of much worse things.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
1,029 reviews17.7k followers
September 4, 2023
I began ploughing through this book in the dreary and climacteric era of my workplace coming of age.

A quickly-promoted amateur in a world of pros, I was fast falling out of my depth - and the deft irony of this book’s prose was no match for my witlessness.

This book probably acted as one of its precipitants. Who knows?

But, three years later, recuperating from the last of my fatal plummets, I met Fred.

Fred was a disproportionately effusive returner of favours, like me. And, like me, he was bipolar.

So, working half-days then, I enlisted his help.

Most of the guys bad-mouthed him, but I was by then a Christian, so avoided their game.

In fact, I opened up to Fred, and confided to him that I needed to find something for my wife and asked him, a trained expert in such things, to help find it.

He did more than that. Much more (and it was so typically beautiful of Fred)...

He brought me in one of his spares from home and GAVE it to me. I was understandably floored. And my wife was delighted.

Next morning, working from home, I spotted this book on our piano. Eureka!

Fred - veteran as I was of tragic falls into his own gulags from official grace - would surely appreciate it.

That afternoon when I arrived at work I placed it quietly on his desk.

Was he fulsomely effusive in his thanks?

Yep - you got it - just like I can be.

(We’re like two overripe peas in a pod...)

You know, guys: I never would have finished my weary slog through these prolix chapters anyway, at that soul-stretching time of drastic downsizing in our organization.

And me in the state I was then.

I had a job in hard economic times, and no matter how enervatingly demanding it got, I was HOLDING ON to it.

But eleven years later - fully retired, though on a fraction of my income - wouldn’t I have loved, you’re saying, to restart this book THEN?

You’re darned right, friends. Books are expensive.

And inflation keeps shrinking my pension in real terms.

But folks, wouldn’t YOU have done exactly the same...

For a kid-at-heart like Fred, that day:

To see his big face light up in garish gratitude like the Times Square Christmas Tree?!
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,849 followers
November 12, 2016
I read this in 1974 in a bad situation in my life. This put "a bad situation" in America in a totally new light. I wish more Americans would listen and have listened to Solzhenitsyn.

Update: I don't know how many of you have followed the...discussion that has been going on here but it inspired me to extend this review a little. The above is the original review in which I simply urged people to read the book for themselves as it has much to say and is applicable in many ways to events happening now.

The book traces the history of the Soviet Gulag and then the willing "refusal to look" at the Gulag system (that went on till the '80s well after the book's publication).

I still recommend this book I doubt anyone will have trouble seeing the resemblance between the Gulags and the Concentration Camps of the Third Reich...unless of course by willful ignorance.

There has also been a suggestion that Solzhenitsyn was antisemitic. This apparently came from the controversy over his book Two Hundred Years Together where he says that "some" Jews were as much perpetrators as victims in Russia. I can't take a stand on this but so far as I can see it's not antisemitism it's simply part of the book. It was intended to be a comprehensive history of Jews in Russia.

So far as THIS book goes I still recommend it and suggest as I do about all books that it be approached while thinking.
Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews99 followers
March 26, 2020
I can not in clear conscience say that I really like a book about Soviet Gulags. To be honest, I repeatedly reached my limit of emotional energy. The story of any one of the 20 million people directly affected would have more impact.

Oh, right. He tried that first, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. In a lot of ways, this a response to critics and deniers of his earlier book.
Profile Image for Mikey.
76 reviews6 followers
March 12, 2007
Given its historical importance, I fully expected that The Gulag Archipelago would be a lofty read. What I didn't expect was that it works so well as a story. Instead of being a straight history book, Gulag lies somewhere between journalism and history, and Solzhenitsyn's narrative voice is familiar and engaging. The book feels less like a history lesson, and more like a conversation with a good friend who knows how to put together and express an interesting, important, heartbreaking, and unforgettable story. A narrative about the Soviet prison camps seems like it would be so weighty as to be unreadable, but Solzhenitsyn makes it surprisingly palatable. It's quite refreshing when you read a classic for the first time, and instantly understand where all the hype came from.
Profile Image for Veeral.
366 reviews133 followers
November 16, 2018
One of my all time favorites.

One of the accounts from the book that still makes me laugh (you read that right, though I shouldn't really) is:

A political meeting was going on with about 1000 - 2000 people present in the hall somewhere in USSR (I can't recall the exact location and time of the event). Now the desiderata for survival in Stalin era was that everyone should stand up and clap their hands furiously at the mention of his name, and you don't want to be the one to stop clapping first. This might suggest that you oppose Comrade Stalin (how dare you, O ye of feeble bourgeois mentality).

So, at this assembly someone inevitably mentioned Stalin's name. Right at that exact moment the whole congregation stood up and began to clap without forgetting to put a beaming stupid smile on their faces. Now you can't be sure that if Cheka agents are watching you at that moment or not. And moreover, you cannot stop clapping before your neighbor does, as he/she might inform on you. So this went on for 8 minutes (I tried clapping for 10 seconds myself and came to the conclusion that you clap twice in a second if you are doing it with gusto - fake or genuine). So they battered their hands together for at least 900 times.

After smashing their hands together until they began to hurt, the highest ranking local member of the Party at the meeting decided that this was getting ridiculous even by then Soviet Standards. He thought that 8 minutes of clapping and smiling was enough for showing their loyalty for a singular mention of Comrade Stalin's name. So he slowly stopped clapping and sat down. The congregation took no more than half a second to do likewise following his lead. Nobody spoke anything about the event in the concluding hours of the meeting. (But I am pretty much sure that everybody made certain that they didn't mention Stalin's name again for rest of the evening).

Next day, the Party member was arrested and never heard from again.


This book would have been comical if it would have been a work of fiction rather than non-fiction. But alas, that is not the case which makes it a sad sad collection of numerous accounts of human suffering under Soviet tyranny.
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
July 27, 2019
This is a wonderful book, but like many Russian authors, Solzhenitsyn goes on too long too often and all the excess verbiage takes away rather than adds to the enjoyment and understanding of the book. However this does not mean that some idiot librarian has the right to decide that all seven (I think it was 7) volumes of the book should be divided willy-nilly into just three volumes. So "The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV" has all sorts of volumes combined in it, volume 2, volume 4 etc. WTF?
Profile Image for Max.
347 reviews336 followers
December 3, 2016
“Each of us is a center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: “You are under arrest.” So Solzhenitsyn’s journey into the gulag began in 1945 where he spent eight years. This is a personal history by a survivor of the false arrest, the long prison sentence, the brutal dehumanizing treatment that sends shivers up the spine. Solzhenitsyn also reports the experiences of many others. Each report is heartfelt. Solzhenitsyn changed history by once and for all undermining the mythical image of the Soviet Communist Party as a party for the workers. He convincingly exposed the brutality and hypocrisy of the Soviet system under Lenin, Stalin and after.

It begins with the arrest for a few critical words, or having a friend who uttered them, or not turning in your friend, or just to fill a quota. Such is the job of the bluecaps, the SMERSH, the apparatchiks of the State Security system, the interrogators whose job it is to get confessions. Their job is not to determine guilt or innocence. That is irrelevant. Their instructions are clear. Stalin has enemies. You must deliver them. If you do the rewards are great. If you don’t you will be gone. This is how the gulags were filled.

Perhaps most surprising is how effective the secrecy was. The average Soviet citizen knew people were watched and arrested or disappeared, but were ignorant of the scope. Many in the West were taken in by Soviet propaganda. While Stalin’s purges in the late thirties unsettled some admirers in the West, for others it took Solzhenitsyn to show them the true nature of Soviet society.

For many, incarceration was automatic. All returning prisoners of war in WWII were sent to camps. Similarly Russians who for any reason spent time in the West were sent to camps. Anyone who performed any function under the German occupation was sent to camp. These millions were added to the millions of political prisoners from the great purges and routine surveillance.

Solzhenitsyn describes the special camps, prisons, prison trains and the horrific penalty cells. Inmates were routinely crowded into small, dirty, vermin infested, unheated compartments and cells. For those that complained or attempted escape the penalty cells served up a wide variety of torture. In camps inmates lived in primitive huts or crowded barracks sleeping together in confined spaces. Many were not even allowed correspondence. These unfortunates could receive no news of loved ones nor could their loved ones know anything about them. Cut off completely from any prior life they ceased to exist to the outside world. Here inmates worked off their 10 or 25 year sentences if they lived that long and their sentences were not extended. Even if fortunate enough to eventually be released, they were sent with nothing but the rags on their backs to internal exile in some remote desert or tundra.

Solzhenitsyn details the constant humiliations, the beatings, the tortures, the starvation diets of gruel and bread crusts. He describes the work, harsh and meaningless, hour after hour, day after day, without respite. Some camps intentionally worked the inmates to death. Other camps were designated to contribute to the five year plans, to dig canals, to lay train tracks. The inmates received nothing for this and the quality of the work reflected their motivation. This use of prisoners kept the quotas high for the State Security system.

Solzhenitsyn tells us about the inmates. Typically dispirited, subject to a system designed to bring out the worst behavior – at times they support each other but all too often it is each person out for him or herself. He describes their captors, how they live off the system. Upon arrival they take any remaining inmates possessions and the best looking young women for private mistresses. Afterword they steal the inmate’s food and use their labor for their personal gain.

Deprived of every dignity and every hope, some inmates finally come to acceptance and Solzhenitsyn describes its remarkable effect on the soul – a feeling of quietness, peace. In his seventh year of prison Solzhenitsyn experiences an epiphany. “looking back, I saw that for my whole conscious life I had not understood either myself or my strivings…In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel…And it was only when I lay there rotting on the prison straw that I sensed in myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil.”

Thus Solzhenitsyn does not condemn the secret policeman, the interrogator, the camp guard as inherently evil. “If only it were so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.” - “To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good…..Ideology - That is what gives evildoing its long sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.” - “Thanks to ideology the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing calculated on a scale in the millions”

In our present time of rising populist nationalism, we should not forget Solzhenitsyn’s warning, “There is always this fallacious belief: ‘It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.’ Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.” “Yet, I have not given up all hope that human beings and nations may be able, in spite of all, to learn from the experience of other people without having to go through it personally.”
Profile Image for Sweetwilliam.
158 reviews57 followers
February 15, 2021
I view people that cling to the tenets of communism the same way I view Holocaust deniers. From the Bolsheviks of 1917 to the turmoil in Venezuela of 2017; Communism is as Churchill said; the equal sharing of misery. The pages of Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize winning masterpiece are full of misery.

Solzhenitsyn paints a picture for the naïve westerner of the backbone and main pillar of Soviet Socialism: The gulag. The purpose of the network of gulags in the Soviet Union is to 1. Intimidate the masses so that they dwell in a constant state of fear and 2. To provide the nation state with an endless supply of slave labor. From the pages of this book you will learn that communism is probably the cruelest form of government in the history of humankind.

Solzhenitsyn’s writing is first hand. He was imprisoned for 8 years after being accused of writing letters that were critical of Stalin. He wrote these letters while serving in the Red Army during WWII. Being able to tell his story and that of his fellow zeks(convicts) was the motivation used by Solzhenitsyn to survive a brutal prison system designed to systematically kill it's inhabitants. His writing style is angry and he uses sarcasm to describe the system of Soviet Gulags that make Tsarist Russia look like the Cub Scouts in comparison. It is not an easy read. One thing that makes it a difficult read is that that the author rambles on and repeats himself. Solzhenitsyn apologizes for this but he explains he was never able to proofread the manuscript. In fact, he never saw all of his notes in one place. He had written this book and hid it in pieces all over the Soviet Union. He was raided by the KGB while in the process of smuggling the pieces out of the country for publication. So please forgive the author if he repeats himself and makes a few errors. He wrote the book while living in a police state and didn’t have the luxury of being able to proofread it. THIS IS HOW YOU HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE SOVIET UNION!!! For this reason, make sure you select the abridged version.

This book is full of horrific but interesting stories. Many are laughable if they weren't so cruel. The NKVD (the precursor to the KGB) would observe a mass meeting. Clapping would commence at the mere mention of comrade Stalin’s name. The ovation would last for 15 minutes or more. People applauding would quite literally pass out rather than be the first one to stop clapping. Finally, one of the factory general managers stopped clapping because, after all, this was ridiculous. There was an agenda to keep. After the gathering the factory manager was arrested. This was how the NKVD separated out the leaders. The Soviet Union only wanted sheep. Leaders were dangerous and sent to the gulag. There is another story about the man who was struggling carrying a mass produced bust of Stalin. The bust was too heavy and he had no way to carry it properly so he tied a rope around Stalin’s head and slung it over his shoulder. The man was given a 10 year sentence for terrorism. Still another man was given 10 years for draping his hat and coat on a bust of Lenin. There are endless stories about how the zeks (convicts) and the 58’s (political prisoners) were coerced into confessions and sentenced without a trial for political crimes they didn’t commit. When the suspect were charged with a crime it would be in code. When the citizen asked “what is code 58-[XYZ]” they were told by their interrogators “that is for us to know.” During interrogations, the arrested argued that they had fought against the Germans or fought in the Revolution and their interrogators would say that “that is another matter.” Please note that I did not use the term “suspects” because there were no suspects. If arrested, you were guilty.

These were not isolated incidents. Solzhenitsyn said that almost every family had at least one family member or more incarcerated in one of the many islands of prisons throughout the Soviet Union. The zeks were fed a ration that could not sustain them when subjected to backbreaking labor. They were forced to work hard labor 7 days a week and often 16 hour days even if temperatures fell to -60˚F. The author tells of a canal built to the black sea where a quarter million zeks were killed in the process. Solzhenitsyn refused to compare the building of the canal to the building of the pyramids because, as he says, the difference was that the Egyptian slaves were at least given contemporary technology while the Soviets used only primitive technology! Trees were cleared by tying ropes to the tops of them and having gangs of zeks wiggle the tree until it could be toppled over. The canal was dug by pick and shovel and the frozen earth was carried away in wheel barrows or in a sack carried over the shoulder. People were dead from exhaustion, starvation, and by exposure and froze to death where they fell. The useless canal that ended the lives of so many was never even utilized. This and other things built by slave labor and managed by central government planning were most often inferior and shoddy.

Solzhenitsyn argues that peasants of Tsarist Russia were far better off than peasants living under Soviet rule. He cites the outrages that led to revolution and uses statistics to demonstrate how these outrages pale in comparison to the modern Socialist State and the system of Gulags. The Russian peasants were far, far, far better off before Lenin and Stalin came along. Yes, the peasants were slaves prior to 1867 but they got Sundays off and several Christian Holidays off. There were far fewer political prisoners and capital punishment was relatively rare. Ironically, all of these things – abject slavery, political prisoners, and capital punishment – inspired the Revolution. Lenin – who had never pushed a wheelbarrow or worked a pick or shovel – thought it was a good thing for prisoners to work rather than sit idle. The gulag was his idea. Millions upon millions of the former peasants – some who had even fought in the revolution - were rounded up and convicted as political prisoners for such terrible crimes as “having a defeatist attitude.” Many were executed there on the spot but others were executed very slowly in the work gangs of the gulag.

I found the following argument very interesting: Solzhenitsyn remarks about how West Germany had convicted former Nazis for war crimes and crimes against humanity. By 1966, West Germany had convicted 86,000 of them. He said that the Soviets loved to read about this in the paper. Each person would express glee each time a Nazi was sentenced. He said if the West Germans convicted 86,000 than the Soviet Union should proportionately convict 250,000. However, only 10 men total in the Soviet Union were ever convicted of crimes against citizens. Solzhenitsyn cries out in the pages of this book that the killers of millions of people walk among us every day. He said that when he brings this up, he is told that he shouldn’t dredge up the past. Solzhenitsyn contends that Soviet society needed the healing that it would provide when these men and women would repent and confess for their terrible sins for incarcerating, torturing, and murdering their own citizens. He argued that the Soviet Union needed this healing just like the Germans experienced.

I could go on and on about the destruction of the Kulaks, political prisoners as young as 6-years old, a system of informants and stool pigeons, prison demonstrations and work stoppages that were settled under the tracks of T-34 tanks and strafing planes… but I have had enough. Communism disgusts me.

Gulag Archipelago is a fifty year old book. But it is timely reading. Over 40% of millennials surveyed say that they would prefer a socialist form of government over capitalism. Inside Russia, I am told that the youth yearn for the old days. Closer to home, the local high school has allowed the children to start a communist club. Isn’t that nice? Imagine the outrage if the school allowed the students to start a Nazi club? Maybe all the world’s “useful idiots” (as Lenin used to call them) have need to read Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece?
Profile Image for Michael Perkins.
Author 6 books375 followers
August 3, 2022
This a perfectly acceptable and in some ways a better single volume version of S that I recommend to everyone. I read the original trilogy, and most of the rest of S, but most readers don't need this. It's full of old stories, but the single volume, here, is the best choice. It has everything the reader needs.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7...

==============


“The simple act of an ordinary brave man is not to participate in lies, not to support false actions! His rule: Let that come into the world, let it even reign supreme—only not through me.”

-Solzhenitysn

======

“Everything will be all right. And, even if it isn’t, we’ll have the consolation of having lived honest lives.”

― Alexei Navalny, imprisoned Russian dissident and critic of Putin

=================

what Solzhenitsyn and Orwell knew.....

“Nothing makes with greater certainty of making earth into a hell, then a man wanting to make it his heaven.”

-Friedrich Hölderlin

===========

new article: the author who brought down an empire...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/11/op...

a story from Solzhenitsyn's opus...

The audience exploded into applause. Every person in the room jumped up and began to wildly clap, as if racing each other to see who could get to their feet the fastest. The applause was all to honor the dictator Joseph Stalin at a 1937 conference of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union.

But the big question soon became: Who would have the nerve to be the first person to stop clapping in honor of Comrade Stalin? No one had the courage, so the clapping went on…and on…and on.

You might be wondering why in the world anyone would be afraid to stop clapping for any leader. To understand this, you need to know Joseph Stalin.

Stalin was a ruthless dictator who ruled the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1952. Although no one knows the precise number of political prisoners he executed, estimates usually reach well over a million.

Historian Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev estimated that Stalin had about 1 million political prisoners executed during the Great Terror of 1937-38 alone. That doesn’t even count the 6 or 7 million who died in the famine that Stalin created through his policies, or the millions who had to do long, hard sentences in the Gulag labor camps.

So when people were afraid to stop clapping for Stalin, they had good reason.

Here is how the Nobel Prize-winning writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described the surreal scene in his great book, The Gulag Archipelago:

“The applause went on—six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly…Nine minutes! Ten!…Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers.”

At last, after eleven minutes of non-stop clapping, the director of a paper factory finally decided enough was enough. He stopped clapping and sat down—a miracle!
“To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down,” Solzhenitsyn says.

That same night, the director of the paper factory was arrested and sent to prison for ten years. Authorities came up with some official reason for his sentence, but during his interrogation, he was told: “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding!”
Profile Image for Paul.
1,217 reviews1,963 followers
April 15, 2017
A bleak and unremittingly grim account of the gulags between 1918 and 1956, narrative history rather than Solzhenitsyn’s usual literary voice. There are occasional flashes of hope and redemption, but these are few.
Solzhenitsyn provides a historical account reasoning through the state’s decision-making process and covering all the process of prison and exile from arrest to release (not so many reached release). There are detailed descriptions of the food, interrogations, torture, sanitary arrangements, travel, weather, clothing, the guards, stool pigeons, the daily work, rebellions, hunger strikes, executions, cells, relationships between the sexes and exile. It is comprehensive and Solzhenitsyn does not spare the reader. He also outlines some of the policies which led to the gulags, the architects of them (primarily Lenin and Stalin) and provides some estimates of the death toll generally from the gulags, starvation and land clearance; figures are in the tens of millions all told.
It is an indictment of what Lenin and Stalin made of Marx in the Russian situation and some of the logical inconsistencies in the system (you achieve the withering away of the state by making it bigger). The whole thing is a testament to the fortitude of the human spirit. There are occasional flashes of humour; the party meeting where no one wants to be the first to stop clapping and so it goes on for over 8 minutes springs to mind.
The book is of historical importance; placing the origins of the gulag with Lenin rather than Stalin; he just exploited and perfected it. It is a must read and there isn’t a lot more to say. Anyone who wants to understand Soviet history has to read this.
Profile Image for Amor Towles.
Author 24 books21.6k followers
October 25, 2016

FIVE EXPANSIVE BOOKS SET IN CLOSE QUARTERS (#3)

This summer, the Wall Street Journal asked me to pick five books I admired that were somehow reminiscent of A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW. To that end, I wrote on five works in which the action is confined to a small space, but in which the reader somehow experiences the world. Here is #3:

In 1945, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, an officer of the Russian army and recipient of the Order of the Red Star, was arrested for including criticisms of Stalin in his personal letters. Having been interrogated in the Lubyanka, he was sentenced to eight years of hard labor and shuttled off to the remote and inhospitable wilds of his own country where, as he puts it, “the sooner you get used to being without your near and dear ones, and the sooner they get used to being without you, the better.”

But faced with interment under unspeakable conditions, Solzhenitsyn makes an extraordinary choice: rather than succumb to bitterness and despair, he determines to pursue the richness of the human experience through conversations with his fellow inmates. Where are they from? Why were they arrested? What happened at their trial? Who did they leave behind? What do they miss? And what keeps them going now?

Years later, the vast catalog of these interviews stored away safely in Solzhenitsyn’s memory became the basis for one of the most harrowing, inventive, and subversive works of the 20th century: the “experiment in literary investigation” he called The Gulag Archipelago. With every element of liberty, every sensation of color, every hint of festivity stolen from him, Solzhenitsyn uncovers the richness of the human experience and the resilience of the human spirit. Though you may never face incarceration, the author’s advice to the new prisoner is valid just the same: “Own only what you can always carry with you. Know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag… Look around—there are people around you. Maybe you will remember one of them all your life and later eat your heart out because you didn’t make use of the opportunity to ask him questions. And the less you talk, the more you’ll hear.”

Profile Image for Paula M..
118 reviews44 followers
July 25, 2022
Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.
Soljenítsin

Há livros que nunca deveriam ter sido escritos, mas que devem ser lidos.

Uma obra e um homem por trás dela surpreendentes!
Soljenítsin dedicou-se a escrevê-la a partir de 1965, num lugar secreto na Estónia. Durante dois invernos seguidos- 65 dias no primeiro e 81 no segundo- escreveu, escreveu e só escreveu. Sozinho, sem vizinhos, cheio de precauções e com pouco mais do que alguma lenha e comida que caçava, fê-lo em memória de todos os torturados e mortos no Gulag.
É extraordinária a resiliência do autor não só por ter sobrevivido aos campos de trabalho corretivo e a um tumor canceroso (quando era ainda prisioneiro), mas tb por se propor a reviver e a sentir novamente a dor das atrocidades.

A partir da sua experiência e principalmente do testemunho de 227 pessoas, que lhe chegaram em forma de relatos , recordações e cartas , criou um extenso livro de História , de memórias pessoais , de reflexão política e filosófica.
O Arquipélago está dividido em sete capítulos ( A Indústria Prisional / Movimento Perpétuo / Extermínio pelo Trabalho / A Alma e o Arame Farpado / Os Trabalhos Forçados / O Desterro / Não há Estaline), que se subdividem em capítulos menores.

O Gulag - referido na obra como a espátula gigantesca, o tumor canceroso; o lado escuro das nossas vidas; o fígado dos acontecimentos - era o sistema dos campos de trabalho forçado. A ' Alma Mater' do Gulag, expressão de Soljenítsin, são as ilhas Solovki, onde um mosteiro da Igreja Ortodoxa Russa foi transformado no primeiro campo de trabalho por decreto de Lenine. Estaline deu asas à insanidade e esticou milhões de quilómetros de arame farpado por todo o país, nascendo assim um 'arquipélago' tenebroso.

Soljenítsin foi preso, aos 26 anos, em 1944, devido a correspondência interceptada pela censura. A um amigo da escola referia- se a Estaline como o Cabecilha por ter traído a revolução, pela deslealdade e crueldade. Não se podia sussurrar quanto mais escrever o que se pensava, por isso enfrentou o Artigo Cinquenta e Oito do código penal. Era com ele que se condenavam os ' inimigos do povo' ( conceito usado pela primeira vez neste artigo) , os suspeitos de atividades contra-revolucionárias. Foi com ele que milhares de inocentes tiveram acesso rápido e direto ao inferno.
Era-se preso por qualquer coisa e por coisa nenhuma : por se ter um carrinho de linhas, por se pertencer a um grupo ou classe social, por se chegar atrasado ao trabalho, por se ser esteta (10 anos!) e até por se ser parecido com Estaline!
Os indígenas do Gulag morriam de exaustão e também de escorbuto,tuberculose, fome, tortura, distrofia alimentar, edema de carência ou por estarem 1 milímetro desalinhados da fila ( era-se reeducado eficazmente com um tiro! ).

Grandes obras foram construídas pelos zeks a custo zero, por isso os campos eram economicamente vantajosos. A primeira grande construção foi a do Bielomorkanal . Estaline forneceu as diretrizes: " o canal deve ser construído num curto prazo e ficar barato" . Assim, um canal com 227 km de comprimento, do Mar Branco ao Báltico, ficou pronto em 22 meses à custa de 30 mil homens. Foi inaugurado no 1* de Maio. (O canal do Suez com 160 km foi construído em 10 anos e o do Panamá , com 80 km, em 28) .
No campo de Kolimá , na Sibéria, era dia de trabalho com 45 ou 50 graus negativos.
Os presos, protegidos com farrapos, trabalhavam as mesmas horas que nos outros campos , 16 ou mais.

Soljenitsin foi meticuloso no relato que nos deixou. Nada ou quase nada do que se viveu entre 1918 a 1956 foi esquecido. Não há nenhum monumento no seu país em memória destas vítimas. Deixou-lhes ele este tributo.

Nestas páginas, o Cabecilha é também o Grande Celerado ou ironicamente, o Tigre Brincalhão , o Amigo, ou o Genial Estratega de todos os tempos. Quis o Amado Mestre ficar conhecido como Stalin, que significa "homem de ferro". De ferro era, mas a sua mãe queria-o mais maleável ( seminarista!...)
Profile Image for Sean Wilson.
192 reviews
January 24, 2018
"They have tightly bound my body, but my soul is beyond their power."

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago is probably the greatest and most disturbing account of human rights violations and political oppression. Now I look around me and see other people stress over nothing, and am disgusted by their egotistical self-centeredness.
Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,930 reviews439 followers
April 9, 2022
I am surprised, no, shocked actually, at how perfectly constructed, researched and organized Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn's 'The Gulag Archipelago' is. He methodically describes the entire scheme developed in the Soviet Union from being arrested to examination and conviction in a legal court of judges to transportation to the awful Siberian prisons. Stalin perfected this legal political police state in order to legally murder or enslave millions of Russian citizens, but he only continued what others began.

I have no doubts the Communist revolutionaries used communism like a drug or a religion to develop a religious and sexual ecstasy in themselves. Destroying free will and independence in their victims involved lots of nakedness and torture and starvation - to break down pride in their victims (and do what to watchers, hmmmm). Their version of communism became a legalized tool to utterly destroy any tendency to think for oneself in any human head, especially brains resistant to religious ecstasies.

The novel '1984' 1984 is based on historical fact, gentle reader. The Soviet Union's history.

This is a stomach-churning story of insanity and torture, gentle reader. Solzhenitsyn's scholarship cannot deaden the horror of a police state. Unlike the Nazis, the Communist revolutionaries passed laws which were totally bonkers. This was done in order to ensnare ANYONE who actually expressed any sort of opposition, or who might be thinking in the future of opposing, or maybe they simply cross their legs looking like they oppose the revolutionaries. These insane laws fed victims into an assembly line of institutionalized slavery madness by Stalin and his government. Perhaps the communists were trying to literally create metalic robots from living flesh through torture and starvation. Survivors were certain to be broken mentally after the systemic methodologies the revolutionaries developed to make human brains incapable of all thought.

Honestly, if the revolutionaries and Stalin really wanted to only transform people into the type of citizen they wanted, they should have driven spikes into the eyes of their entire population. It works.

Lobotomy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobotomy

Instead, I think they WANTED to keep their people busy in the daily work of torture and killing.

What, I can hear you say, that is crazy! Yes, gentle reader, I agree. Yet it happened and was sustained by a human government and an entire country of compliant citizens. The Soviet Union later invaded all of eastern Europe and influenced many countries all over the world to change their governments into similar police states the Soviets had perfected.

It is a mistake to blame the political theory of communism for this, gentle reader, in my humble opinion. This is male genetics gone wild. These are men given license to act on those impulses to make war on their fellows and control other people's bodies through violence. In 'The Gulag Archipelago' it was a Communist government. This madness has also been expressed by:


-the Catholic Church https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisi...,

-America's Red Scares https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Sca... and Salem witch trials https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_w...,

-Idi Amin's Uganda https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idi_Amin,

-Cambodia's Khmer Rouge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_R...,

-China's Cultural Revolution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultura...

-North Korea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_K...



and many many many many many other instances of human history, too numerous to list. Truly. Too numerous to list. Think about it.

The insanity of these systemic institutionalized regimes of terror is clear to see. The mistake you might be making every day, gentle reader, is to assume this stuff could never happen again. It will happen again. It will.

I strongly recommend reading 'The Gulag Archipelago' at least once in your life. At minimum, read '1984', a shorter fictional read which nonetheless mirrors the reality of many many many instances of human history.
Profile Image for Emiliya Bozhilova.
1,366 reviews226 followers
June 30, 2022
“Това, което написах, е само контролно прозорче към Архипелага, а не обзор от наблюдателна кула.”

Интервю с… Не, не с вампир. А с жертвите му. И става безпощадно ясно, че романизирането на злото често е просто престъпна заблуда, ако и да се среща често и да засища някаква прастара нужда да видим човечност и в най-невъзможни ситуации. Солженицин я показва, но не при вампирите, а при изтощените им жертви.

Когато през 1945 г. СМЕРШ (съкратено от “Смърт на шпионите”) пристигат за 27 годишния фронтовак, арогантен млад офицер и убеден марксист, капитан от съветската армия Александър Солженицин, вече крачещ по немска земя в края на войната, той все още не се догажда, че отива на една много дълга и много вледеняваща среща с историята, и че накрая ще стане неин говорител. А също и говорител на безименни милиони, оставили костите и(ли) душите си в замръзналата пустош.

Солженицин получава екслузивно гражданство в една съвсем отделна държава - тази на изтребителните, концентрационни лагери на Архипелаг “ГУЛАГ”. Тази държава има своя география, свои закони и свой народ - този на зековете (съкратено от “затворник”). През нея са минали няколко десетки милиона жители.

Тази държава е основана за класовите врагове и битовите престъпници. Първите са считани за много по-опасни от вторите, тъй като са социални чужди (не са пролетариат, а често някакви там професори, инженери, писатели…). Вторите - на тях и вина не може да им се вменява, тъй като са тласнати към престъпленията от класовото неравенство и класовия враг. Горките душички! Но Държавата бди - затваря зад телени огради и едните, и другите - но на рецидивистите често се връчват “възпитателни” и ръководни функции в затворите и лагерите - и те на воля се саморазправят с класовия враг и продават на черния пазар награбените вещи, като често са прерязали нечие и друго гърло в процеса, но няма лошо - жертвите са социално неприемливи индивиди.

Социално неприемливите в СССР се оказват безброй, всички обхванати от митичния член 58 на Наказателния Кодекс, който е толкова дълбоко законспириран, че да се намери за свободен прочит е немислимо, на арестанти не се дава, а дори и част от служителите в системата не са го чели. По член 58 могат да те осъдят, общо взето, само затова, че съществуваш. Долната граница е 12 години, подсъдни са намерението (искал, но неизвършил) и подозрението (вероятно (!) е знаел, но не докладвал на органите). Потвърждението на обвинението е формалност: на органите често се спуска бройка и те я запълват старателно (иначе и за тях лошо), а веднъж влязъл там, излизаш поне с десетка (10 години). С тази присъда те изпращат и ако гладен си скъсал два стръка жито от колхозната нива.

Изследователите на робовладелския строй имат богато поле за изява със съветските концентрационни лагери. Там кацат всички социални неприемливи по 58-ми. Идеята е семпла: и три месеца да изкара, все икономическа файда ще има. После да мре - идва следващият. И така - безплатно (т.е. без консумативи за храна, дрехи, инструменти и механизация) са построени куп големи инфраструктурни обекти като Беломорканал (напълно безсмислен и зле изпълнен), или се вадят ценни суровини с нула разход (материален) - златото в Колима. Работи се и при минус 40 градуса по 10 часа.

Солженицин методично, с научен подход, дисектира всеки етап от предварителния арест чак до гроба зад полярния кръг. Не бърза за никъде, излага пълната история и всеки факт от всяка една брънка от чудовищната верига, доколкото му е известна от онези 227 души, чиито разкази е събрал, и донякъде от собствения си опит. Разкоства показно, прецизно, хирургически, с черен хумор дори на моменти. Дисекцията включва и обстоен анализ на съветското наказателно законодателство след 1917 г. - теории и практики, както и сравнения с царска Русия. Изключително етнологическо свидетелство са детайлните му портрети на всяка една група обитатели на тази омагьосана земя - от бачкаторите (които са си просто смъртници), войниците в конвоя, чак до … да, индиректно чак до самия Вожд. Е, нещата не са започнати от Сталин, започнали са още от Ленин. Но Сталин подобрява процеса. До такава степен го усъвършенства, че ма��ар нищо друго в СССР да не работи и икономика практически да липсва, затворническото дело е в бурен подем, и е методологически изпипано. Хитлер е можел да завижда.

Уви, Солженицин не е имал достъп до архивите, по обясними причини. А какво ли щеше да напише, ако беше имал! Макар да си мисля - щеше да добави само по някоя уточняваща цифра, която никак нямаше да повлияе на описаното. Ако пък беше познавал Примо Леви, бързо щеше да намери общите пасажи с опита от нацистките концлагери (копи-пейст на места).

Написаното от Солженицин няма давност. То е все ще валидно. Принципите, гарантирали успеха на ГУЛАГ, са сред нас и днес. Те са общовалидни и вечни. Трябва само да се взираме по-внимателно. И да се съпротивляваме. И са не се отказваме.

———
И най-доброто обобщение - съчинено от затворници, още се спори кой е съчинил текста, а вероятно и музиката:

https://youtu.be/Vn6MwNUfTks

———

▶️ Цитати:

⛓ “Да, съпротивата би трябвало да започне оттук, от самия арест.
Не започна.”

⛓ “Братко мой! Не съди онези, които, изпаднали в такива положения, са се оказали слаби и са подписали нещо излишно…”

⛓ “Като не наказваме и дори не порицаваме злодеите, не просто съхраняваме техните нищожни старини, но и подкопаваме за новите поколения всякакви основи на справедливостта. Затова, а не заради „слаба възпитателна работа“ растат „равнодушни“. Младите свикват, че подлостта на земята никога не се наказва и винаги носи благополучие.
И мъчително, и страшно ще е да се живее в такава страна!”

⛓ “От затворника трябва да вземем всичко през първите три месеца — а след това повече не ни е нужен!”
Н. Френкел

⛓ “Идеологията! — тъкмо тя дава търсеното оправдание за злодеянието и необходимата продължителна твърдост на злодея. Тъкмо тя е онази обществена теория, която му помага да оневинява пред себе си и другите своите постъпки и “да чува не укори, не проклятия, а хвалби и почит. Така инквизиторите укрепват властта си чрез християнството, завоевателите — чрез възвеличаване на родината, колонизаторите — чрез цивилизацията, нацистите — чрез расата, якобинците и болшевиките — чрез равенството, братството и щастието на бъдещите поколения.”

⛓ “Не, несправедливо ще е този дивашки строеж на XX век, този канал (Беломорканал), построен „с ръчни колички и кирки“ — несправедливо ще е да го сравняваме с египетските пирамиди: та пирамидите са строени със съвременна за времето им техника. А у нас при налична техника — с четиридесет века назад!”

⛓ “Не отделни черти, а целият главен смисъл в наличието на крепостното право и Архипелага е един и същ: това са обществени устройства за принудително и безжалостно използуване на безплатния труд на милиони роби.”

⛓ “в този лагер трябва да умреш, а който не е умрял — да си направи извода.”

⛓ “Абсурдно? Диво? Безсмислено? Ни най-малко не е безсмислено, тъкмо това се нарича „терор като средство за убеждаване“.”

⛓ “Но в това открай време е нещастието на човека — той не може да разбере кое е вещта и кое — цената за нея.”

⛓ “Интелигентът е този, чиито интереси и воля към духовната страна на живота са настойчиви и постоянни, непораждани от външните обстоятелства и дори въпреки тях. Интелигент е този, чиято мисъл не е подражателна.”

⛓ “В нашето славно отечество най-важните и смели книги остават непрочетени”

⛓ “Нима цялото зло, което се върши на Архипелага или по цялата земя, не се извършва чрез самите нас?”

⛓ “О, колко трудно, колко трудно е да станеш човек!”

⛓ “А психологията на престъпника е много проста и достъпна за усвояване:
1. Искам да живея и да се наслаждавам, плюя на останалите!
2. Който е по-силен, той е прав.
3. Не се завирай където не те засяга! (Тоест, докато не бият теб, не се застъпвай за този, когото бият. Чакай си реда.)”

⛓ “За климата на Архипелага се знае, че дванадесет месеца е зима, останалото е лято.”

⛓ “в МВД е достатъчно да бъдеш тъп и да се прицелваш точно в черепа.”

⛓ “паметта е най-слабото място у руснаците, особено паметта за злото”

⛓ “У нас тъкмо падналия го бият. А в изправения - стрелят.”

Profile Image for Hugh.
1,272 reviews49 followers
January 6, 2021
Firstly a note on the edition - this is the ABRIDGED version, but it was authorised by the author, as the original runs to 1800 pages in some editions and would be too much for most non-specialised readers. On the whole I think the abridgement is impressive, but if you value your sanity, you should skip Jordan Peterson's introduction unless you like being talked down to by aggressively right wing Americans. I read the book for a discussion in the Reading the 20th Century group, and I am glad I did, though it is not an easy read and there might have been better ways to start a new reading year.

Solzhenitsyn's own experience of the gulags is a key source, but he also accumulated stories from many others - this edition also contains a glossary of names which identifies which of them were among his witnesses. While there is inevitably a degree of political spin, it is humanity, laced with a surprising amount of dry humour, that characterise the authorial voice, despite the grimmest of subject matter - the list of torture techniques employed by Soviet investigators is long and detailed, and the sheer scale of the atrocities becomes mind-numbing.

The book broadly follows the experience of a political prisoner (zek) as he passes through the system, so the first part is about arrest, interrogation and initial prison experiences, and it is quite some time before we reach the main subject, life in Stalin's camps. Right at the end we get a little about release and its aftermath.

Solzhenitsyn also challenges the widely held view that the atrocities were largely confined to Stalin's famous purges of the 1930s - his list of state casualties starts with the Revolution and continues right through to the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras. There is also quite a lot on how the Bolsheviks tightened and massively extended the systems of repression developed by the Tsars.

This is a monumental and sobering book that had to be written for the many victims whose stories can never be fully told (and it is oddly comforting to think that there are much worse places to be than a western country in the throes of a pandemic), but it is never a comfortable one to read.
Profile Image for Beata.
755 reviews1,157 followers
January 17, 2018
An eye-opening book, the first one that showed me what gulags were...
Profile Image for Gary.
948 reviews207 followers
May 29, 2016
One of the most monumental accounts of one of the cruellest ideologies of history,this book should be read by all
Layer by layer Solzhenitsyn exposes the hideous system of imprisonment ,death and torture that he refers to as the 'Gulag Archipelago'
He strips away that the misconception of the good Tsar Lenin betrayed by his evil heirs and exposes how it was Lenin and his henchmen who put into place the brutal totalitarianism , which would be inherited and continued by Stalin
In fact the only thing that Stalin really did differently was to introduce a more personalised ,Imperial style of rule but otherwise carried on the evil work of Lenin
It was Lenin who imprisoned the Cadets (Constitutional Democrats) , Mensheviks,Social Democrats,Social Revolutionaries Anarchists and independent intelligentsia and had many killed
In this way he completely destroyed all opposition to Bolshevik hegemony
Under Lenin the persecution started of anybody convicted of religious activity and the complete destruction of the church in Russia
And it was Lenin who began the genocide of whole ethnic groups that would later gain momentum under Stalin
Under the Communist system all that is spiritual or not purely material in nature is destroyed.And we discover what a horror Marx's idea of 'dialectic materialism ' really is
But I cannot describe the horrors which Solzhenitsyn outlines in this book :the hideous torutres,the slave markets selling of young women into sexual slavery
Solzhenitsyn describes how the prison system of the Tsarist system was compassionate by comparison but the mild abuses of Tsarist imprisonment where reacted to with a shrill outcry that never greeted the horrors of Bolshevism and Communism
As he says in his ever present biting sarcasm "Its just not fashionable,just not fashionable
And even today,even after the fall of Communism in Europe (though its iron grip remains strong in parts of Asia,Africa and in Cuba) its still not regarded as fashionable to highlight the horrors of Comm
Profile Image for  Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ .
385 reviews152 followers
January 29, 2013
Apa yang harus saya ceritakan tentang buku ini? Tak ada--atau lebih tepatnya tak bisa. Buku ini harus dibaca sendiri.

Nyaris tak ada buku yang bisa menyajikan teror semenggelisahkan buku ini. Banyak orang yang tersedu-sedan saat membaca buku tentang kekejaman holocaust seperti di buku Diary of Anne Frank atau Night. Tapi kalau mereka sudah membaca buku ini, mereka akan menangis guling-guling.

Bercerita tentang kengerian kamp konsentrasi buat para "si penjahat malang" (baca: siapapun yang dianggap menentang keinginan Si Kumis Besar a.k.a Stalin) yang bernama Gulag, buku ini sudah menimbulkan kengerian bahkan sejak halaman pertama. Gulag jauh lebih mengerikan daripada penjara manapun buatan manusia lainnya--bahkan Iblis pun tak mungkin bisa sekejam ini. Tak akan cukup kata di review ini buat menuliskan kengeriannya. Baca sendiri! Dan bersiaplah untuk mimpi buruk yang tak akan pernah berakhir.

Gulag merupakan versi neraka di bumi yang bahkan lebih kejam daripada neraka versi agama langit. Di neraka-Nya, penghuninya masih diberi makan berupa onak duri dan air nanah bercampur logam mendidih. Di Gulag, para tahanannya sama sekali tak diberi makan kecuali sisa sampah yang bahkan hewan paling putus asa pun tak akan mau memakannya.

Stalin telah membuat Hitler terlihat seperti bocah bengal 7 tahun yang hanya bisa melampiskan amarahnya dengan menyiksa kecoa malang.

Buku ini sama sekali bukan bacaan yang menyenangkan. Teror, nestapa, dan kebrutalan yang dihadirkannya akan menghilangkan selera makan, meremukredamkan perasaan, dan meluluhlantahkan pertahanan otot air mata. Buku ini akan menantang pembacanya dengan pertanyaan paling fundamental tentang aspek moral kemanusiaan: "Apakah manusia itu pada hakikatnya terlahir sebagai seorang yang baik? Atau malah jahat?" dan yang paling menohok, "mana yang lebih utama, menyebarkan derma kebaikan atau mencegah angkara kejahatan? Mengapa kita lebih mudah melakukan kebaikan dengan gagah namun sering kali tak berdaya mencegah kejahatan yang tampak mudah dibantah?".

Ketika saya membaca buku Nyanyi Sunyi Seorang Bisu 1, saya merasa stress. Ketika membaca buku ini, saya merasa depresi. Dengan tema yang sama--memoar menyakitkan tentang perjuangan orang-orang yang bertahan dari penindasan rezim represif, Gulag menyajikan teror berkali-kali lipat tak berkesudahan sampai halaman terakhir dan akan terus mengendap di benak pembacanya selamanya...


PS: Tengkyu Panda atas pinjemannya. ditunggu pinjeman Nyanyi Sunyi 2-nya :P
Profile Image for فهد الفهد.
Author 1 book4,834 followers
May 13, 2021
أرخبيل الغولاغ

أهمية هذا الكتاب لا تخفف ثقله، فلذا لا أنصح بقراءته إلا للمهتمين بالحالة السوفييتية، حيث يركز هذا الكتاب على الجانب الحقوقي فيها، متناولاً بالتفصيل الموجات الاعتقالية، أساليب التحقيق، القانون السوفييتي الذي كان على أساسه يخون الناس ويزج بهم في الغولاغ الرهيب.

ستقرأ في هذا الكتاب ما يتجاوز خيالك من حالات ظلم، حيث كان يسجن كل من يبدي رأياً مخالفاً وربما يعدم، وحيث كان الناس يرسلون إلى المعتقلات لعشر سنوات بدون أي محاكمة، بل ويورد المؤلف حالات ذهب الناس فيها للمعتقلات لأنهم إما عادوا من الحرب أو انتقدوا قلة الإنتاج، أو مثل حالة تلك المرأة التي ذهبت لتسأل ما الذي يمكنها أن تفعله برضيع جارتها التي اعتقلت في اليوم السابق، فاعتقلت هي بدورها !!!

الكتاب يمنح قارئه حالة اكتئابية لا تزول بسهولة، وخاصة عندما نتذكر أن هذا النظام المجنون الذي زال أخيراً من الاتحاد السوفييتي كان وربما لازال موجوداً في بعض بلادنا العربية.
Profile Image for Nigeyb.
1,243 reviews280 followers
January 6, 2021
A very tough read. The Gulag Archipelago (1973), is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's exhaustive account of the Soviet Gulags between 1918 and 1956.

It's almost unremittingly grim and is based on Solzhenitsyn's own years in labour camps and the testimony of around 200 survivors. The reader learns about the waves of mass arrests, the interrogations and torture techniques, adapting to life in the camps, the food, sanitary arrangements, executions, cells, the guards, the travel to/from camps, weather, clothing, guards, escape attempts, stool pigeons, daily work, prisoner uprisings, hunger strikes, relationships between the sexes, and so on.

Take, for example, the section on interrogations and torture techniques which consists of pages and pages of horribly vivid and imaginative torture techniques and other psychological methods to extract confessions. It's incredibly hard to even momentarily consider how awful each method would have been for the victims, and yet these techniques were unofficially sanctioned by the state and inflicted on millions of innocent ordinary Soviet citizens.

Much of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's account is blackly comedic, absurd, and stranger than any fiction, for example how thieves were co-opted into the revolution as they were already opposed to private property. Where they were caught or prosecuted (their crimes were often ignored) they got significantly lighter sentences than political prisoners and were offered preferential roles within the labour camps. Or how children could be guilty of political crimes and so became an increasingly sizeable proportion of the prison population (e.g. 8 years for stealing a potato) and quickly adapted to the dog-eat-dog ruthlessness of camp survival.

I listened to the abridged version which is about a third of the length of the original, it's still almost 600 pages long, or 23 and a half hours of audio. Even abridged, it's still sometimes somewhat monotonous and chapters on, for example, some of the more famous show trials felt superfluous to the book's core messages, or the occasional circular philosophical musings about the implications of Soviet policy. Perhaps the gruelling length, occasional monotony, and repetition is the most appropriate way to shine a light on the scale of State sanctioned murder and abuse by a country on its own population? Total deaths in the Gulags have been estimated at 60 million, but no one knows for sure. It's impossible to really get your head round the scale of the suffering and death but The Gulag Archipelago is about as close as an individual reader will ever manage. Everyone should read this book in order to gain some understanding about what happened in the Soviet Union in the decades following the October Revolution, after all, those who fail to understand the past are condemned to repeat it.

4/5

The blurb...

A vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators but also of everyday heroism, The Gulag Archipelago is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's grand masterwork. Based on the testimony of some 200 survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn's own eleven years in labour camps and exile, it chronicles the story of those at the heart of the Soviet Union who opposed Stalin, and for whom the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair.

'The Gulag Archipelago helped to bring down an empire. Its importance can hardly be exaggerated' Doris Lessing, Sunday Telegraph


Profile Image for Charlie Hasler.
Author 2 books211 followers
June 14, 2021
As I don't have a Kindle I took pictures on my phone of parts that stopped me dead. After further reading and picture taking, I now have an Archipelago folder on my phone. I did this because the words and points made so utterly shattered and moved me that I felt it so important I revisit these pages in the future.

The writing style reminded me of reading Henri Charrieres Papillon. Fast, to the point, and powerful.

Probably one of the most important books I will ever read.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,695 reviews595 followers
January 12, 2021
I read this with one of my Goodreads groups and I need to thank them, because, originally I was going to read the three volume version of this. I am never fond of abridged versions, but, said my lovely Goodreads friends, it is an approved version and, trust us, it is much the best version. Well, they were right. As always.

First of all, can I just say this is a seriously important book. It is a book which needed to be written. Not only is it the record of Solzhenitsyn's arrest, and time in the camps, but it is a record of the system itself. Full of the stories of people that Solzhenitsyn has collected and, movingly, full of the names and pictures of those who suffered and died and need to be remembered.

However, although this is a book which needs to be read, which should be read, it is a difficult, tragic, unremitting account of those events, which is hard, sometimes, to face. From the very first part, arrest, Solzhenitsyn asks you, the reader; what if your life suddenly ended? What if you were home one day and you are arrested. Sick relatives taken from their beds, your child's corpse, laid out in a coffin in your front room, tipped onto the floor, so they can search thoroughly? If you are to withstand what happens, Solzhenitsyn is clear - you need to renounce your life to withstand what is coming.

Each section deals with different part of this new life. The endless interrogations, transportation to the labour camps and, possibly, exile. Often, Solzhenitsyn uses dark humour, such as when he explains the difficulties presented to the prison guards when transporting prisoners on trains. How do you take so many prisoners to the toilet? They have to have their dried fish, which makes them thirsty, but, give them water and they may want to be taken to relieve themselves? A difficult dilemma, soon removed by the refusal of water...

This is a bizarre world, without reasoning or pity. Where men who went off to fight in WWII came back to find themselves thrown into prison. Where anything was suspect - including leaving the country (for any reason) and certainly returning was viewed with deep suspicion. We all know the saying that power corrupts. This book will show you how horribly true it really is.
Profile Image for Ana.
651 reviews86 followers
April 20, 2023
Este livro é um imenso nó na garganta, que começa logo na dedicatória:

“Dedico este livro a todos quantos a vida não chegou para o relatar. Que eles me perdoem não ter visto tudo, não ter recordado tudo, não me ter apercebido de tudo.”

Não é um livro de leitura fácil, por várias razões. A primeira é, evidentemente, o conteúdo, o relato da experiência do autor e de outros 27 antigos presos políticos nas prisões e campos de trabalho russas nos anos 1930-50. Mas o livro também se torna difícil pela escrita torrencial e pela nomeação de políticos da época e personagens e acontecimentos históricos, que me deixaram um pouco perdida dados os meus fracos conhecimentos da história da Rússia. No entanto, �� um livro que recomendo e que me deixou com vontade de ler mais, tanto sobre o período pré, como pós revolução.

Ficam alguns excertos que fui anotando: da pág. 93, onde após uma descrição bastante gráfica dos vários tipos de tortura a que eram submetidos os presos políticos, e que não quero reproduzir, o autor conclui que Aquilo que ainda se admitia sob o poder de Aleksei Mikhailovich e que já sob Pedro, o Grande parecia bárbaro; (...) e que já era completamente impossível de suceder no reinado de Catarina, isso foi realizado em pleno florescimento da sociedade do nosso grande século XX, concebido segundo os princípios socialistas (...). E foi realizado, não por um criminoso isolado num lugar secreto, mas por dezenas de milhares de bestas humanas, especialmente amestradas, sobre milhões de vítimas indefesas.

Na pág. 156, encontrei a descrição exata da minha opinião acerca das ideologias, embora nunca a tivesse formulado:

A ideologia! Ela fornece a desejada justificação para a maldade, para a firmeza necessária e constante do malfeitor. Ela constitui a teoria social que o ajuda, perante si mesmo e perante os outros, a desculpar os seus actos e a não escutar censuras nem maldições, mas sim elogios e testemunhos de respeito. Era assim que os inquisidores se apoiavam no cristianismo, os conquistadores no engrandecimento da pátria, os colonizadores na civilização, os nazis na raça, os jacobinos (de ontem e de hoje) na igualdade, na fraternidade e na felicidade das gerações futuras.

Na pág. 171, Soljenitsine descreve como conheceu, na prisão, um velho bolchevique, agora considerado indesejável e, mesmo após conhecer a sua história, contada na primeira pessoa, tem dificuldade em libertar-se das suas ilusões acerca do regime (p. ex., que Lenine era um herói, e a culpa de tudo o que se passa no presente é unicamente de Staline, não possuindo raízes mais fundas):

(…) chega-se à conclusão que da deportação czarista somente não fugiam os preguiçosos, tão fácil isso era. Fastenko foi dos que “fugiu”, ou seja, saiu simplesmente do lugar do desterro sem passaporte. Dirigiu-se a Vladivostoque, esperando partir de barco com o auxílio de um conhecido. Não conseguiu, não se sabe porquê. Então, sempre sem passaporte, cruzou tranquilamente, de comboio, toda a mãe Rússia, viajando até à Ucrânia, onde era bolchevique clandestino e onde tinha sido preso. Ali deram-lhe um passaporte de outra pessoa e dirigiu-se para a fronteira austríaca, a fim de a passar. Esta empresa era considerada pouco perigosa, e a tal ponto Fastenko não sentia atrás de si o hábito da perseguição que manifestou uma despreocupação surpreendente: ao atingir a fronteira e ao dar o seu passaporte ao funcionário da polícia, apercebeu-se, de repente, de que não se recordava do seu novo apelido! Que fazer? Os passageiros eram uns quarenta e o funcionário já tinha começado a chamá-los. Fastenko fingiu que estava a dormir. Ouvira entregar todos os passaportes e como tinham chamado diversas vezes por um tal Makarov, sem ter a certeza de se tratar dele. Finalmente, o dragão do regime imperial inclinou-se para o clandestino e, amavelmente, tocou-lhe no ombro: “Senhor Makarov! Senhor Makarov! Por favor, o seu passaporte!”. Fastenko viajou até Paris. Ali conheceu Lenine (…).
Para mim dir-se-ia que o mais importante e admirável nesse homem era o facto de ter conhecido pessoalmente Lenine, mas ele próprio recordava isso de modo completamente frio. (…)
Ele dizia-me claramente em russo: “Não cries ídolos!” Mas eu não o compreendia!
Ao ver a minha exaltação, ele repetia, insistentemente, por mais de uma vez: “Você é matemático, para si é imperdoável esquecer Descartes: há que submeter tudo à dúvida! Tudo!” Ou então dizia: “Quase não há já velhos presos políticos, eu sou um dos últimos. Os velhos deportados políticos foram todos aniquilados e a nossa associação foi dissolvida logo nos anos 30.” “Mas porquê?” “Para que não nos reuníssemos e não discutíssemos.” Embora estas simples palavras, ditas em tom tranquilo, fossem de bradar aos céus (…) eu compreendia-as só como tratando-se de outra malvadez de Staline. Um facto penoso, mas sem raízes.


Na pág. 188 encontrei uma descrição comovedora do conforto que os presos políticos encontravam nos livros, disponíveis em algumas prisões, no meio de toda a miséria em que (sobre)viviam:

Mas a biblioteca é o ornato da Lubianka (…) Mas que maravilha: cada dez dias, vindo buscar os livros, vai satisfazendo os nossos pedidos! Ela escuta, com essa mecanização inumana da Lubianka, sem se poder compreender se ouviu bem os nomes e os títulos, ou mesmo as nossas palavras. Depois sai. Nós passamos várias horas entre a inquietação e a alegria. Durante esse tempo são folheados e verificados todos os livros que nos foram entregues: procura-se ver se deixámos picadas ou pontos debaixo das letras (é esse um processo de correspondência dentro da prisão), ou se assinalámos com a unha as passagens de que mais gostamos. Inquietamo-nos com isso, embora não sejamos culpados de nada. Eles podem vir e dizer que foram descobertos pontos,e, como sempre, terão razão, como sempre não terão necessidade de provas e ficaremos privados, durante três meses, de livros, se é que não transferem toda a cela para os calabouços. E são estes os melhores e os mais radiosos meses prisionais, enquanto não nos enterram na cova de um campo de trabalho! Como é doloroso ter de passar sem livros! Nós não tememos apenas, estremecemos, tal como na adolescência ao mandar uma carta de amor e ao esperar a resposta. Virá ou não? E qual será?

Na pág. 265 é descrito o modo de funcionamento dos tribunais revolucionários, que após o derrube do regime czarista e eliminação do respetivo código penal, funcionaram durante quatro longos anos sem um código no qual se baseassem, sem que isso fosse considerado um problema. Estes são excertos retirados de uma coletânea de discursos de N.V. Krilenko, primeiro-comissário do Povo e acusador de alguns dos principais processos judiciais:

O Executivo do Comité Central tem o direito ilimitado de amnistiar e castigar segundo o seu belo prazer. (…) Tudo isto, diferencia com vantagem o nosso sistema, da falsa teoria da separação de poderes, que é a teoria da independência do poder judicial. É bom que os poderes legislativo e executivo não estejam separados, como no Ocidente (…) Todos os problemas se podem resolver rapidamente.

E que não venham dizer-me que os nossos tribunais penais devem aplicar exclusivamente as normas escritas existentes. Vivemos um processo revolucionário (…) Num tribunal revolucionário não devem renascer as subtilezas e os casuísmos jurídicos (…) O conceito de culpabilidade é um velho conceito burguês. (…) Um tribunal revolucionário é um órgão de luta da classe operária contra os inimigos e deve atuar sob o ponto de vista dos interesses da Revolução (…) tendo em conta os resultados mais desejáveis para as massas operárias e camponesas. (…) No nosso tribunal revolucionário não fazemos caso nem dos artigos nem das circunstâncias atenuantes; devemos partir de considerações de utilidade.

Na pág. 303 explica-se como foi preparado o novo Código Penal e as “melhorias” introduzidas por Lenine no seu rascunho:

Seis artigos do código previam como pena máxima o fuzilamento. Isso era insatisfatório. Em 15 de Maio, em notas à margem do projecto, Vladimir Ilich Lenine acrescentou mais seis artigos, para os quais era imprescindível o fuzilamento (entre eles, o artigo 69º: propaganda e agitação… em particular, o incitamento à resistência passiva contra o Governo, ao não cumprimento em massa das obrigações militares, ou ao não pagamento dos impostos). O fuzilamento devia ainda ter lugar noutro caso: por regresso, sem autorização, do estrangeiro.

Na página 500, Soljenitsine descreve o inesperado regresso à prisão onde havia estado anos antes, após transportes em vagões de gado e estadias em campos, e a forma como, por comparação com o que entretanto viveu, esta agora lhe parece quase um paraíso:

Nesse chão asfaltado, debaixo dos beliches, rastejando como os cachorros, com o pó e as migalhas a cair nos olhos, eu era absolutamente feliz (…) Dizia Epicuro, com justeza: “A ausência de diversidade pode sentir-se com prazer quando se sucede a amarguras diversas” (…) Nessa cela mantiveram-me dois meses, mas dormi o sono do ano anterior e o do ano seguinte (…) vinte minutos de passeio, era coisa mais deliciosa! Não renunciávamos ao passeio mesmo que chovesse torrencialmente. Mas o principal eram as pessoas, as pessoas, as pessoas! Pela noite não havia discussões, organizavam-se palestras, concertos. (…) Os emigrantes faziam relatos sobre os Balcãs e a França. Alguém pronunciou uma palestra sobre Corbusier, outro sobre os hábitos das abelhas, ainda outro sobre Gogol. (…) Kostia Kiula, da minha idade (…) lia os seus versos escritos na prisão. A sua voz estava embargada pela emoção. (…) Quando na cela ouves declamar versos escritos na própria cadeia, não pensas se o autor se desviou do sistema tónico-silábico e se as linhas terminam com assonâncias ou se rimam. Estes versos são sangue do teu coração, são lágrimas da tua esposa. Na cela, choravam.

E quase a fechar este primeiro volume, algumas reflexões finais:

O mais importante na vida, todos os enigmas dela, se quiserem, exponho-os já a vocês… Não corram atrás de fantasmas, atrás de alucinações, de bens e de títulos: isto consegue-se à força do nervos ao longo de décadas e é confiscado numa noite. Vivei com supremacia sobre a vida, não vos assusteis com as desgraças e não vos canseis da felicidade, pois, como quer que seja, nem o amargo dura um século, nem a doçura é plena. Já não será pouco se não ficardes gelados e se as garras da sede e da fome não vos rasgarem as vísceras. Se não tendes a coluna vertebral fraturada, se as duas pernas se movem, se os dois braços se endireitarem, se ambos os olhos vêem, e os ouvidos ouvem, a quem tendes de invejar? Para quê? A inveja dos outros é o que mais nos corrói, lavem o coração e dêem valor, antes de mais nada, aos que vos amam e estão convosco. Não os molestem, não os insultem e não se separem de qualquer deles por uma zanga: pois nunca ninguém sabe se essa pode ser a última atitude perante eles, e assim ficar-se lamentavelmente na sua memória!...

Em resumo, um livro difícil de ler, mas que estou feliz por ter conseguido levar até ao fim. Daqui a uns meses hei-de ler o segundo volume. Agora vou fazer uma pausa para aprender sobre a história da Rússia e intercalar outros livros que tenho em fila de espera.
Profile Image for Lucas.
139 reviews25 followers
January 16, 2021
I was primarily drove to this book as a result of my interest in the Soviet Union and in the misfortunes of actual communism. But I think that the right way to see this book is through its spiritual insights. The experience in camp had a deep impact in Solzhenitsyn. I believe that nobody can pass for such experience and don't be affected in some way. The discussion of this topic, in particular, is done in the chapters 1 ("Ascent") and 2 ("Or Corruption?") from the part IV of the book ("The Soul and the Barbed Ware").

These two chapters are my favorite in the book and I recommend to anyone who doesn't want to read the whole book but has an interest in a deep and insightful discussion about human nature, suffering, and religion.
Profile Image for Salamon.
95 reviews40 followers
September 24, 2021
جردن پیترسن:


“If there was any excuse to be a Marxist in 1917 there is absolutely and finally no excuse now. And we know that mostly because of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and The Gulag Archipelago. Thank Heaven for that great author’s outrage, courage and unquenchable thirst for justice and truth. It was Solzhenitsyn who warned us that the catastrophes of the Soviet state were inextricably and causally linked to the deceitful blandishments of the Marxist utopian vision. It was Solzhenitsyn who documented the price paid in suffering for the dreadful communist experiment, and who distilled from that suffering the wisdom we must all heed so that such catastrophe does not visit us again.”


— Jordan Peterson


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در وصف این تلاش عظیم، ستایش‌برانگیز و هولناک میشه خیلی گفت و در عین حال چیز زیادی نمیشه گفت. مجموعه‌ای از خلاقیت جهنمی انسان بر علیه هم‌نوعان خودش. واقعاً باور اینکه بتوان با چنین بی‌تفاوتی عجیبی و با چنان توجیهات کودکانه‌ای انسان‌های دیگه رو از تک‌تک (و ریزترین و بدیهی‌ترین) حقوق جسمی و روحیشون محروم کرد، به سختی در مخیله‌ی من می‌گنجه. و اینکه این اعمال به صورت سیستماتیک و با همکاری مستقیم و غیرمستقیم شاید میلیون‌ها آدم و در طی ده‌ها سال صورت بگیره از اون هم ترسناک‌تره.

حدود پنج ماهه که من با این کتاب زندگی میکنم. خوندنش به هیچ‌وجه ساده نبود. اکثراً آتش و خفقان از خط‌به‌خط متن فوران می‌کرد و نفسم رو بند میاورد. با این حال برای من مهم و لازم بود که این چیزا رو بدونم و با ابعاد تکنیکی و روانی این جنایت بزرگ آشنا بشم.

نهایتاً سؤالی که ذهن من رو شدیدا به خودش مشغول میکنه اینه که آیا ژن ما استعداد درنده‌خویی رو چنین تمام‌و‌کمال داره که گاه‌و‌بی‌گاه شمه‌ای ازش بروز میکنه یا اینکه ما چنان سیستم‌پذیر و چکش‌خواریم که به سرعت شکل هر ظرفی رو به خودمون میگیریم؟


در مورد ترجمه‌ی فارسی:

ظاهرا کتاب از سه بخش تشکیل شده که دو بخش اون در سال ۶۶ به وسیله‌ی انتشارات سروش به چاپ میرسه و این تنها ترجمه و چاپ فارسی کتاب محسوب میشه. به همین دلیل چاپ اصلی تقریبا نایابه ولی نسخه‌ی الکترونیکیش رو میشه پیدا کرد و من همین نسخه رو به صورت نسخه‌ی کاغذی درآوردم.


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بریده‌هایی از کتاب


"و مسلم است که بازداشت شبانه، به آن گونه‌ای که نگاشتیم، در کشور ما بسیار مطلوب و مقبول است، زیرا که مزایای بسیاری دارد. همین که نخستین ضربه‌ به در کوفته شود، دل همه‌ی سکنه‌ی آپارتمان از رعب و وحشت می‌گیرد. قربانی از رختخواب گرم بیرون آورده می‌شود، هنوز دستخوش ناتوانی نیمه خواب‌آلودگی است، گیج و پریشان‌حواس است. در بازداشت‌های شبانه، عمال دستگاه امنیت از حیث نیرو برتری دارند: در برابر یک تن که هنوز جلو شلوارش را نبسته است، چندین نفر هستند و اسلحه دارند..."

"و از این چیزها گذشته، بازداشت‌های شبانه حسن دیگری هم دارد: نه آپارتمان‌های همسایه و نه خیابان‌های شهر می‌توانند ببینند که در یک شب چند نفر برده شده‌اند... این گونه بازداشت‌ها که باعث خوف و وحشت نزدیک‌ترین همسايگان است، برای دورترین همساي��ان حادثه‌ای نیست. گویی که چیزی اتفاق نیفتاده است. همان رشته آسفالتی که شبانه عبور ماشین‌های سیاه زندانیان را می‌بیند، روز، شاهد رژه‌ی جوانان و پرچم‌ها و گل‌ها و سرودهای شادمانه‌شان می‌شود."

"و اگر.. و صد اگر........آنچه در ما نبود، عشق آزادی بود...و از این بالاتر، ناآگاهی از وضع حقیقی بود. ما همه‌ی نیروهای جانمان را در یگانه انفجار لگام‌گسیخته‌ای که در سال ۱۹۱۷ صورت گرفت، به کار زدیم تا به عجله وسیله‌ی انقیاد خودمان را فراهم آوریم و از تن دردادن به انقیاد لذت ببریم."

"آری... سه هفته بود که جنگ در خاک آلمان جریان داشت و موضوع‌هایی در میان بود که خودمان پاک می‌دانستیم: درباره‌ی دوشیزگان آلمانی، اجازه‌ی تجاوز به عنف، ازاله‌ی بکارت و اعدام جابه‌جا داده شده بود، و این کارها کم و بیش می‌توانست نشانه‌ی شجاعت و رشادت باشد. درباره‌ی دوشیزگان لهستانی یا دوشیزگان روس خودمان که گرفتار تبعید شده بودند، این رخصت داده شده بود که دست کم لخت مادرزاد در پالیزها دنبال‌شان کنیم و ضربه‌های جانانه‌ای بر پشت‌های‌شان بزنیم: تفریح خوشمزه‌ای بود و بس."

"و حتی اگر به بازداشت عادی هم اکتفاء بکنیم، باید خاطرنشان کنیم که از بهار سال ۱۹۱۸ موج خائن‌های سوسیالیست به فوران آمد و این موج بی‌وقفه چندین سال جریان یافت. اعضاء همه‌ی این احزاب _ سوسیالیست‌های انقلابی، منشویک‌ها، آنارشیست‌ها، سوسیالیست‌های پوپولیست _ ده‌ها سال تنها به این تظاهر کرده بودند که انقلابی‌ هستند، تنها نقاب انقلابیون را به چهره زده بودند و حتی محض خاطر این چیزها _ و باز هم برای تظاهر _ به زندان‌های اعمال شاقه رفته بودند و تنها در جریان شدید انقلاب بود که ناگهان جوهر بورژوازی این خائن‌های سوسیالیست‌ آفتابی شده بود. با این همه، اقدام به بازداشت این عناصر طبیعی بود!"

"نظم و ترتیبی که در این قلع و قمع و کشتار در پیش گرفته شده بود، با این همه، درست و دادگرانه بود: در جریان سال‌های ۲۰، به همه‌شان پیشنهاد امضاء توبه‌نامه‌ای شد که به موجب آن می‌بایست در مقام نفی و انکار حزب خودشان و مرامنامه و جهان‌بینی‌اش برآیند. برخی به زیر بار نرفتند و بسیار طبیعی است که در زمره‌ی نخستین گروهی درآمدند که طعمه‌ی کشتار شدند. برخی دیگر به امضاءِ چنین توبه‌نامه‌هایی تن در دادند و بدین گونه مهلت دو سه ساله‌ای برای خودشان فراهم آوردند اما نوبت اینان هم، مثل قضا و قدر که نمی‌توان از چنگش در رفت، فرا رسید و سر این گروه هم، بی برو و برگرد، از تن جدا شد."

"و درست در همان زمان دست به اقدام مهمی زده می‌شود که مراد از آن شرکت دادن همه‌ی مردم در کار شبکه‌ی گندآبروها و تقسیم مسئولیت در میان همه‌ی مردم بود: کسانی که تن‌شان در کام شبکه‌ی گندآبروها فرو نرفته بود و لوله‌ها هنوز به مجمع‌الجزایر نبرده بود، می‌بایست، پرچم‌آخته، در روی زمین رژه بروند و به دادگاه‌ها درود بفرستند و از قلع و قمع و اِعمالِ شکنجه لذت ببرند. (و این چیزها از راه دوراندیشی بود! سال‌ها خواهد گذشت، تاریخ از رخوت بیرون خواهد آمد و چشم‌هایش را خواهد گشود، اما گناه بازجوها، قاضی‌ها و دادستان‌ها بیشتر از من و شما نخواهد بود. ای هم‌میهنان ارجمند من!.. اگر موهای سفید شایسته‌ای بناگوش‌های‌مان را نقره‌فام کرده است، برای این است که با کمال بزرگواری، در موقع خود، ورقه‌ی سفید دادیم.)"

"انقلابی‌ها، تئوری‌پردازها و پیغمبران سرشناس، هفت سال پیش از مرگ بی‌افتخار خودشان، بر این زوزه‌های خلق درود فرستادند و هیچ حدس نزدند که دوران خودشان هم بسیار کوتاه است و به زودی نام خودشان هم طعمه‌ی امواج آن غرشی می‌شود که به فریادهای《کثافت》و《نجاست》و《زباله》آمیخته است."

"اگر ملتی در اِعمالِ حقوق خود شجاعت و شهامتی نشان داده بود، هرگز نه فرصت می‌داد که این فصل نوشته شود و نه فرصت می‌داد که تمام این کتاب به قلم آید."

"در پایان کنفرانس، پیشنهاد می‌شود که رسم ستایش و سپاسگزاری از رفیق استالین به جای آورده شود. ناگفته پیدا است که همه از جای‌شان بلند می‌شوند (همچنان که در سرتاسر کنفرانس، همه‌کس، به هر باری که نام او برده شد، از روی چهارپایه‌ی خود جست). کف‌زدن‌های دیوانه‌وار که به شکل شور و هلهله درآمده است، در سالن کوچک بیداد می‌کند. مدت سه، چهار، پنج دقیقه در هیجان دیوانه‌وارشان پایداری نشان می‌دهند و همچنان سرتاپا، شور و هلهله می‌شوند. اما رفته‌رفته دست‌ها درد می‌گیرد. اما بازوها، از بس که به هوا رفته بود و در هوا مانده بود، رفته‌رفته سست می‌شود، اما رفته‌رفته آدم‌های چهل پنجاه ساله از نفس می‌افتند. اما کسانی هم که از صمیم قلب ستایشگر استالین هستند، رفته‌رفته این کار را حماقتی جانفرسا می‌بینند. ..."

توضیح من: حکایت طولانیه. فقط بگم که پس از یازده دقیقه کف‌زدن، نفر اولی که دست‌زدن رو متوقف میکنه همون شب توسط اطلاعات (ان.ک.وه.ده.) بازداشت و فورا به ده سال حبس محکوم میشه.


"استالین و نزدیکانش تصویر خودشان را دوست می‌داشتند، روزنامه‌ها را به نور این تصویرها ستاره‌باران می‌کردند و این تصویرها را در میلیون‌ها نسخه تکثیر می‌کردند، اما مگس‌ها چندان در بند تقدس این تصویرها نبودند و از این گذشته، حیف بود که کاغذ روزنامه به کار برده نشود. و چه بسا بخت‌برگشته‌ای که همین کار برایش حبس‌ها به بار آورد!"

"و سرنوشت آن دهقانی که پدر شش بچه بود، سرنوشتی دیگر شد. از آنجا که شش نانخور داشت، از جان و دل برای کلخوز کار می‌کرد و از رنج بردن در این راه ذره‌ای دریغ نمی‌داشت و پیوسته امیدوار بود که پاداشی در ازاء این رنج‌ها بگیرد. و در واقع، نشانی به او داده شد... دهقان که می‌خواست جواب این مراحم و الطاف را بدهد، دستخوش تأثر شد و چنین گفت: آه! ای کاش که به عوض این نشان، یک کیسه آرد به من داده بودید!... جلسه قهقهه‌ی گرگ‌منشانه‌ای زد و مردی که تازه نشان گرفته بود، به اتفاق شش نانخور که داشت، گرفتار تبعید شد."

"...واحدهای ارتش دلیرانه آئول‌ها (دهکده‌ها) را به محاصره در می‌آوردند و در ظرف بیست و چهار ساعت، به سرعت نیرویی که در سرزمین دشمن پیاده شده باشد، مردمی را که قرن‌ها بود در این دهکده‌ها برای خودشان خانه و زندگی ساخته بودند، به ایستگاه‌ها می‌بردند، بار قطارها می‌کردند تا بی‌درنگ راه سیبری، قزاقستان، آسیای مرکزی و روسیه‌ی شمالی را در پیش گیرند. و درست بیست و چهار ساعت دیگر، اراضی و املاک‌شان به دست جانشینان‌شان سپرده می‌شد..."

"آخ! در این عمارت چه طرح‌ها و چه کارها که نابود نشده است! فرهنگ و تمدنی، سراپا، در اینجا، در کام نیستی فرو رفته است. اوه! امان از دوده، دوده‌ی دودکش‌های لوبیانکا! و بدترین دلخوری‌ها در این است که اخلاف‌مان نسل ما را نادان‌تر، ناتوان‌تر و بی‌زبان‌تر از آن خواهند شمرد که بوده است!"

"این گله‌ی گرگ چگونه میان ملت ما پیدا شده است؟ مگر از همان حسب و نسبی نیست که ما داریم؟ مگر با ما همخون نیست؟
چرا همخون ما است.
برای آنکه بسیار زود ردای سفید و پاکیزه‌ی راستان و پاکدامنان را به تن نکنیم و به فخر و مباهاتی بیرون از اندازه، در مقام خودفروشی برنیاییم، بگذار تا هر یک از ما از خودمان بپرسیم: اگر زندگیم مسیر دیگری پیدا کرده بود، من هم یکی از این جلادها نمی‌شدم؟"

"بی‌گمان، انسان شدن در دهشتی که پیش از مرگ می‌آید، حسنی بسیار بزرگ نیست. و به همان گونه هم، دوست داشتن بچه‌های خود دلیل نیکی و مهربانی نمی‌تواند باشد."

"ایدئولوژی! آری، همین ایدئولوژی است که دلیل مطلوب تبهکاری، و ثبات قدم و قوت قلب و اراده‌ی پایدار و دور و درازی را که برای تبهکاران ضرورت دارد، به ارمغان می‌آورد. تئوری اجتماعی است که تبهکار را در شستن سیاهی اعمال خویش، و رو سفید کردن خویش—در چشم خود و در چشم دیگران—یاری می‌دهد، و مایه‌ی آن می‌شود که به عوض سرزنش و نفرین—مدح و ثنا بشنود و شاهد اداء احترام این‌و‌آن باشد. بدین گونه است که عمال محکمه‌ی تفتیش عقاید بر مذهب مسیح—جهانگشایان برای تسخیر سرزمین‌های ملل دیگر بر ستایش وطن—مستعمره‌جویان بر تمدن—نازی‌ها بر برتری نژادی—ژاکوبن‌های (دیروز و امروز) بر برابری، برادری و خوشبختی نسل‌های آینده—تکیه زدند."

"در زندگی شخصی‌شان سخت بی‌سلاح بودند: نه راه تسلیم می‌شناختند، نه راه تظاهر و تصنّع و نه راه سازش و آشتی... هر کلمه‌ای که به زبان می‌آوردند، فکر و عقیده‌ای بود و جهشی و بانگ اعتراضی... داس، درست گریبان همین اشخاص را گرفت. و درست همین اشخاص گرفتار دندانه‌های علف‌بُر شدند."

"پزشک زندان نیکوترین دستیار بازجو و جلاد است. هنگامی که زندانی《چوب‌خورده》روی زمین، به هوش می‌آید، صدای پزشک را می‌شنود:《می‌توان باز هم زد. نبضش عادی است.》پس از پنج روزی که در سیه‌چال یخزده ماندید، پزشک تن عریان و سرمازده‌تان را معاینه می‌کند و می‌گوید:《باز هم می‌توان توی سیه‌چال نگهش داشت.》چندان زده‌اند که مرده‌اید، پزشک《ورقه‌ی فوت》را امضاء می‌کند: تشمّع کبد یا انفارکتوس را علت مرگ می‌گوید. به شتاب، به بالین محبوسی که توی سلولش جان می‌دهد، خوانده می‌شود، عجله‌ای به خرج نمی‌دهد. هر کسی که رفتاری دیگر در پیش بگیرد، چندان زمانی در زندان‌های ما نگه داشته نمی‌شود."

"حتی پیرزن بی‌چیزی ده‌دوازده تخم‌مرغ آراسته به نقش و نگار برای‌شان می‌آورد و با دلی که از زیر بار غم و اندیشه رسته بود، بازمی‌گشت. پس آن نیکی و جوانمردی ملت روس کجا رفته است؟ وجدان سیاسی جایگزینش شده است. چه تغییر خشن و برگشت‌ناپذیری! آری، به زور و وحشت آن خوی مردمی و جوانمردی را از سر ملت ما بدر کرده‌اند و کاری کرده‌اند که ملت ما در بند مردمی نباشد که رنج می‌برند. امروز، چنین کارهایی چه اندازه بی‌معنی خواهد نمود! امروز، اگر به اداره‌ای بروید و پیشنهاد بکنید که به مناسبت فلان جشن هدایایی برای زندانیان زندان محل گرد آورده شود، این پیشنهاد همانا قیام ضدشوروی شمرده می‌شود! ببینید به چه پایه‌ای از درندگی و ددمنشی رسیده‌ایم."

"پس، اسیر روسی چه راه‌هایی در پیش داشت؟ طریق شرعی و قانونی، یکی بیش نبود: و آن، این بود که به روی زمین دراز بکشد و لگدکوب شود. هر پر گیاهی، برای زیستن، ساقه‌ی زودشکنش را هر جا که بتواند بر می‌افرازد. اما، تو، روی زمین بخواب و لگدکوب شو.
چون در میدان جنگ نتوانستی بمیری، اکنون بمیر، ماهی را هر دم که از آب بگیری، تازه است. در چنین صورتی، از تعقیب و محاکمه مصون می‌مانی.
سربازان خفته‌اند،
هر حرفی که در دل داشتند، زده‌اند،
و تا روز قیامت حق با ایشان است."

"...خواستم که با این صفحه‌ها یادآور شوم که در تاریخ جهان پدیده‌ی بسیار شگرف و ناشنیده‌ای است که چند صد هزار جوان بیست سی ساله با بدترین دشمن وطن‌شان همدم شوند، و به ضدّ وطن‌شان اسلحه به دست گیرند...خواستم یادآور شوم که شاید ضرورت داشته باشد که از خودمان بپرسیم در این میان که گنهکارتر است، این جوانان یا سرزمین پدری‌شان که گرد پیری بر سرش نشسته است، خواستم یادآور شوم که برای این حادثه‌ای که اتفاق افتاده است، نمی‌توان از لحاظ زیست‌شناسی علتی پیدا کرد و آن را زاده‌ی تمایل نژادی و خونی به خیانت دانست، و خلاصه، خواستم یادآور شوم که این حادثه باید علل اجتماعی داشته باشد."

"آه! ای کاش می‌توانستیم به این سکون پناه ببریم و در آن فرو شویم! به بانگ روشن و پرطنین خروس در هوایی ناآلوده، گوش بدهیم! پوزه‌ی اس��ی را ��ا آن سر خوب و سنگینش نوازش کنیم! و مرده‌شور همه‌ی آن مسئله‌های بزرگ را ببرد! بگذار تا یکی دیگر، نادان‌تر از ما، مغزش را، در راهشان خسته کند! و آنجا، از دست فحش‌های خواهر و مادر بازجوها، از بازگویی ملالت‌بار همه‌ی زندگی‌مان، از سر و صدای قفل‌ها و فضای اختناق‌آور و تباهی‌گرفته‌ی سلول آسوده شویم! ما که عمری بیش نداریم، و آن هم عمری که پاک ناچیز و بسیار کوتاه است! و تبهکارانه، این زندگی را به دم مسلسل‌ها می‌دهیم، یا این زندگی پاک و پاکیزه را به میان توده‌ی زباله‌ها و کثافت‌های سیاست می‌کشانیم!"

"این دانه‌ی شنِ ریز و زودباور که به کام سنگ‌های آسیاب استالین کشانده شده بود، چه اندازه به این برنامه ایمان داشت و چه اندازه سرشار از امید بود. آدم می‌خواست با وی همداستان شود، دوره‌ی حبس‌اش را، به نرمیِ بسیار، به سر بياورد و آن‌گاه هر چیزی را که در زندگیش دیده است، از حافظه‌ی خویش بیرون بریزد...
اما رفته‌رفته این حس در درون من پدید می‌آمد: اگر برای زندگی کردن، قرار زندگی نکردن باشد، این چیزها به چه درد می‌خورد...؟"

"قرن‌ها، مَثَلِ ذیل در سرزمین ما معمول و رایج بوده است: از قانون مترس، از قاضی بترس.
اما به گمان من قانون بر انسان پیشی گرفته است، و در قساوت، از انسان، فراتر رفته است. و اکنون وقت آن است که مَثَل را پس و پیش کنیم: از قاضی مترس، از قانون بترس."

"در آن سالها، بسیاری از مردم که آرام و آسوده زندگی می‌کردند، ناگهان دریافتند که هستی‌شان دور از مصلحت و اصالت عقل است.
باید مطلب را دریافت: باری که بر دوش متهم سنگینی می‌کرد، کاری نبود که از وی سر زده بود، که آن کاری بود که اگر جا‌به‌جا تیرباران نمی‌شد، ممکن بود صورت بدهد. 《ما، گذشته از آنکه، در برابر گذشته به صیانت خودمان می‌پردازیم، در برابر آینده هم به حفظ و حراست خودمان می پردازیم.》"

توضیح من: جمله‌ی نقل قول شده از نیکولای واسیلیویچ کریلنکو فرمانده نظامی و دادستان نظام جماهیر شوروی می‌باشد.


"《هیچ مدرک جرمی وجود ندارد، هیچ مطلبی وجود ندارد، حتی هیچ موضوع اتهامی هم وجود ندارد.... تاریخ چه خواهد گفت؟ [حقیقتاً چه زیبا تهدیدی! تاریخ فراموش خواهد کرد... و کلمه‌ای از این قضایا به زبان نخواهد آورد.] ... دیگر سخنی ندارم، اما رشته‌ی سخن را رها کردن بسیار دشوار است. تا وقتی که محاکمه دوام داشته باشد، متهم‌ها همچنان زنده هستند. وقتی که جریان محاکمه پایان پذیرفت، زندگی هم پایان می‌پذیرد...》"

"آنکه عده‌ی بسیاری را پای چوبه‌ی اعدام فرستاده باشد، اغلب، از تصور مرگ خویش، از پای درمی‌آید و آن هم چه از پای‌درآمدنی!...(نیروی اراده‌ای که در موردی نشان داده شود، ملازمتی با نیروی اراده در موردی دیگر ندارد.)"

"این قاتل میلیونها تن نمی‌توانست به تصور بیاورد که رئیس صدرنشینش، قاتل اعظم، در واپسین دم، به هواداریش برنخیزد و در مقام پشتیبانیش برنیاید."

"بوخارین در جریان آن ما‌ههای پیش از بازداشت، بیشتر از هر چیز دیگر، از چه واهمه داشت؟ یقین حاصل است که بزرگ‌ترین ترسش از این بود که از حزب رانده شود! حزب از کفش بیرون برود! زنده بماند، اما بیرون از حزب باشد! و این همان رگ حساس __ (رگ حساس وی و رگ حساس همه‌ی آن دیگران) بود. و کوبای عزیز از روزی که خودش《حزب》شده بود، به نیکوترین وجه، زخمه بر این رگ حساس می‌زد."

توضیح من: کوبا نام عملیاتی استالین پیش از انقلاب بود.


"و بدینسان آن همه آدم تیرباران شدند. ابتدا هزارها تن، سپس صدها هزار تیرباران شدند. تقسیم می‌کنیم، آه‌ها از دل برمی‌آوریم، نفرین‌ها می‌فرستیم...اما باز هم آنچه به دست‌مان می‌آید، رقم است و بس.‌.. و این رقم‌ها تأثر و حیرت به بار می‌آورد، سپس به آسانی فراموش می‌شود. اگر قرار این می‌بود که روزی از روزها خویشان و بستگان آنان که تیرباران شده‌اند، عکس‌های قربانیان را به نزد ناشری بیاورند و آلبوم این عکس‌ها در چندین مجلد انتشار بیابد، هر آینه از ورق زدن این آلبوم و《در نگریستن》، به واپسین نگاهی، به چشم‌های بی‌فروغ آنان، چیزهای بسیاری یاد می‌گرفتیم که برای بقیه‌ی روزهای زندگی‌مان قیمت بسیار می‌داشت. چنین مطالعه‌ای، مطالعه‌ی کتابی که قلم و کلام را به تقریب سهمی در آن نیست، تا قیامت اثری عمیق در دل‌های‌مان به جای می‌گذاشت."

"ایمان زودباورانه‌ی ما به نفوذ و تأثیر اعتصاب غذا، زاده‌ی تجربه‌ی گذشته، و ادبیات پیشین خودمان است. اما اعتصاب غذا سلاحی پاک معنوی و روحانی است، و فرض بر این است که زندانبان ذره‌هایی از وجدان خویش را نگه داشته است، و یا از افکار عامه بیم دارد. و اعتصاب، تنها به این شروط، می‌تواند مؤثر باشد."

"این عمل تغذیه‌ی دستی، به عمل تجاوز به عنف شباهت بسیار دارد. و در واقع، چنین عملی هم هست: چهار مردن گردن کلفت بر سر موجودی که دیگر رمق ندارد، می‌ریزند و از یگانه تحریمی که برای خود دارد، بازش می‌دارند، و این کار را تنها یک بار صورت می‌دهند و هیچ مهم نیست پس از آن چه بر سرش بیاید. همچنان که در تجاوز به عنف پیش می‌آید، اراده درهم‌ شکسته می‌شود: کاری که باید بشود، نه آن است که می‌خواهی، چیزی است که من می‌خواهم، دراز بکش و فرمان ببر."

"نه، این کارها، به قصد، برای شکنجه‌ دادن مردم صورت نمی‌گیرد!《محکوم》سرباز زحمتکش و رنجبر سوسیالیسم است، چرا باید شکنجه داده شود؟ برای کارهای ساختمانی به وجود مبارکش احتیاج هست... اما باید اذعان داشت، با همه‌ی این چیزها، به بزمِ خانه‌ی خاله‌اش که نمی‌رفت! و با این همه، هیچ دلیلی در دنیا وجود ندارد که چنان از وی پذیرایی شود که برای مردمی که آزاد هستند، رشک و غبطه‌ای به بار بیاورد! ما از حیث حمل‌ونقل گرفتار اشکال‌هایی هستیم... اما صحیح و سالم به مقصد می‌رسد، در راه هم سقط نمی‌شود."

"در پاییز سال ۱۹۴۶، ن.و تیموفه‌یف رسووسکی راهِ پتروپاولووسک–مسکو را در کوپه‌ای پیمود که سی‌و‌شش آدم با خود می‌برد! چندین شبانه‌روز، در میان دیگران معلّق ماند و پاهایش به زمین نخورد. سپس، مردم، رفته‌رفته مردند__(اجساد مردگان را از لای پاهای زندانیان بیرون می‌کشیدند). (بی‌گمان همان‌دم بیرون نمی‌کشیدند، که یک روز در میان بیرون می‌کشیدند.) و این امر کمی جا باز کرد. و وی سه هفته بدینسان سفر کرد."

"فرق گذاشتن میان سیاسیها و تبهکارها، به منزله‌ی آن است که آنان را هم‌چشم و هم‌پایه و برابر خودمان بپنداریم... به منزله‌ی اذعان به این نکته است که مردم می‌توانند برای خودشان افکار و عقایدی داشته باشند. و از این رو، زندانی سیاسی، حتی زمانی هم که در بازداشتگاه به سر می‌برد، از آزادی سیاسی خویش آگاه است.
اما، از روزی که همه‌مان《ضدانقلابی》شدیم و سوسیالیستها نتوانستند عنوان《سیاسی》خودشان را نگه بدارند، هر بار که خواستار بشویم که ما — سیاسیها — را به تبهکارها نیامیزند، جز قهقهه‌ی زندانیان دیگر و حیرت و《سردرگمی》زندانبانان نتیجه‌ای به دست نمی‌آوریم. زندانبانان، بی‌ روی و ریا و به صداقت و صراحت جواب می‌دهند که:《اینجا، همه‌ی زندانیها تبهکار هستند》."

"گرسنه مانده است، نخفته است، در سیه‌چال‌ها یخ زده است، زیر ضربه‌های تازیانه در هم کوفته شده است. اما ای کاش که تنها تنش در هم کوفته می‌شد! روح‌اش نیز در هم شکسته است. بارها و بارها به او گفته‌اند و بارها و بارها نشانش داده‌اند که اندیشه‌هایش، رفتارش در زندگی و رابطه‌هایش با دیگران، نادرست بوده است. زیرا که همه‌ی این چیزها به ورشکستگی سوقش داده است. این خرده گلوله‌ای که از سوی ماشینخانه‌ی دادگاه توی واگن پرتاب شده است، دیگر جز عطش زندگی و عدم ادراک مطلق نیست."

"و چون به آهنگ‌های رقص این جوانانی که با ما بیگانه بودند، به این آهنگ‌های رقصی که هرگز دیگر نصیب ما نمی‌توانست بشود، گوش می‌دادیم، یا وقتی که به تصور می‌آوردیم که یکی در همان لحظه، در صفه‌ی راه‌آهن __ و حتی شاید با دسته گل، منتظر یکی دیگر است یا به مشایعت یکی دیگر آمده است، دیگر این احساس به ما دست نمی‌داد که اسباب تمسخر بوده باشیم. این بیست دقیقه، دقایق نزدیک به آزادی و همانند آزادی بود: شامگاه انبوه‌تر می‌شد، نخستین ستارگان مثل چراغ‌های سرخ و سبزی که در راه‌ها روشن می‌شود، بر می‌افروخت. و موسیقی طنین می‌انداخت. زندگی بی ما ادامه می‌یافت و ما این امر را اهانت نمی‌پنداشتیم."

"اینجا برای استحمام به هر نفر یک لیتر آب داده می‌شود و برای آنکه راحت و رفاه زندانیان در شستن سر و تنشان بیشتر شده باشد، این چهار لیتر آب که به چهار تن داده می‌شود، در یک طشت ریخته می‌شود و اکنون، بروید و همه با هم سر و تن‌تان را شستشو دهید!"

"هنگامی که انسان در گورستان سکونت داشته باشد، نمی‌تواند بر همه اشک بریزد."

"و پرتگاهی میان شما و ایشان هست که به هیچ نیرویی نمی‌توان پر کرد و به هیچ وسیله‌ای نمی‌توان پلی بر آن بست! محال است که بانگی بر ایشان زد، اشکی برايشان ریخت، و شانه‌هایشان را گرفت و تکان داد: زیرا که شما روح هستید، شبح هستید، و ایشان جسم مادی و محسوس دارند."
Profile Image for Homo Sentimentalis.
56 reviews51 followers
March 9, 2020
"Kako da se jednom rečenicom okarakteriše sva ruska istorija. Zemlja ugušenih mogućnosti."

Šta reći o Solženjicinu... Veliki pisci doživljavaju po pravilu i velike nesreće, ali je zaista teško naći nekoga koga je sudbina više izudarala. Prvo, aktivno učešće u Drugom svjetskom ratu, pa direktno odatle odlazak na dugogodišnje robijanje u logorima. Zatim slijedi progonstvo, tamo dobija rak, a nakon svega toga prisiljen je i emigrirati iz Sovjetskog Saveza. Ono što je ipak najfascinantnije jeste to što je kroz sve to vrijeme Solženjicinu pošlo za rukom da sačuva zdrav um i čistu dušu, tako da bi mu i Seneka i Epiktet zasigurno skinuli kapu. Inače je živio 90 godina!!

Najznačajniji dio njegovog opusa svakako čini svojevrsna "trilogija" o životu zekova (zek-logoraš u žargonu). Po načinu prikazivanja najmračnijih stranica ruske istorije, ova tri djela se poprilično razlikuju.
"Jedan dan Ivana Denisoviča" je u umjetničkom smislu definitivno dostiglo najveći domet, ali u faktičkom otkriva jako malo, više daje čitaocima na maštu.
"U prvom krugu" se paralelnom perspektivom prikazivanja života u i van logora postiže jedan drugačiji, po meni i puno bolji efekat kod čitaoca, u smislu razumijevanja duha vremena.
Ipak, kruna svega svakako je "Arhipelag Gulag", ogromno djelo (ipak ne i najobimnije kada je Solženjicin u pitanju. Mislim da ga nadmašuje "Crveni točak" koji nažalost kod nas koliko znam nikad nije preveden), u kome se na bazi svjedočenja nekoliko stotina, a možda čak i hiljada logoraša, daje toliko obilje podataka da je sa njim teško porediti bilo šta kada je dokumentarna književnost u pitanju.

"Arhipelag Gulag" nije najbolja, ali je vjerovatno najstrašnija knjiga koju sam držao u rukama. Knjiga koja opisuje "zlo" i "diktaturu" u najpunijem smislu tih riječi. Iako je ne preporučujem onima slabijeg srca, smatram da spada u onu grupu rijetkih knjiga koje bi svako morao pročitati barem jednom u životu, pa kud puklo da puklo!
U knjizi je opisano SVE: načini hapšenja, istraga, vrste mučenja, opis policije, sudova, ćelija, zatvorenika (žene, maloljetnici, intelektualci, kriminalci, cinkaroši, seljaci, nacionalne manjine...), pokušaji bjekstva, štrajkova i pobuna, život u progonstvu, itd.
Teško mi je izdvojiti najmučniji dio knjige, a i ne bih previše spojlovao, tako da ću navesti samo nekoliko istinitih događaja. Prije toga bih zamolio za minut šutnje u ime dolepomenutih, ali i svih ostalih žrtava Staljinovog terora.........

- nakon meča odigranog u Švedskoj, doktor fudbalskog kluba izjavi da tamo i nije tako loše kao što se priča. KOMPLETNA EKIPA zbog ove izjave dobija 10 godina logora!

- na jednoj partijskoj konferenciji čita se poruka vjernosti drugu Staljinu. Svi aplaudiraju, niko ne smije prestati, ali jednom neko mora. U jedanaestoj minuti to čini direktor fabrike i iste noći ga odvode u logor na 10 godina!

- svaki profesor mora spominjati Staljina, Marksa i Lenjina, ali istovremeno mora da pazi da Staljina pominje najviše. Ako na jednom času recimo Staljina pomene pet puta, a Marksa šest, dovoljna je jedna studentska dojava i profesor je na putu za logor!

- jedan pekar volio pisati po novinama. Jednom prešao preko Staljinovog lica. Komšije našle novine u kanti za smeće i prijavile ga. Dobio 10 godina.

- siromašni seljak dobio orden zbog zalaganja, a prilikom uručivanja izjavio: "Eh, kad bi umjesto ovoga moglo... tako, bar pud brašna!" Čitava porodica protjerana u progonstvo!

- traktorista imao loše cipele i uvio nogu kandidatskom listom za "Vrhovni Sovjet", čistačica opazila, prijavila. Kazna 10 godina!

I na kraju, stekao sam utisak da Solženjicin i pored svega što mu se dešavalo ne samo što nije bio kivan, nego je čak i zahvaljivao sudbini što mu je dala priliku da kroz svu tu muku upozna toliko različitih ljudi, da nauči toliko toga o čovjeku koliko na slobodi nikada ne bi mogao, jer su mu upravo takve okolnosti dale mogućnost da vrlo lako i brzo stupa u prisan odnos sa svim tim ljudima. Ipak, meni se kroz čitavo djelo nametalo jedno pitanje: DA LI POSTOJI SAZNAJNO ISKUSTVO TOLIKO VELIKO DA BI BILO VRIJEDNO GUBITKA NAJLJEPŠIH GODINA ŽIVOTA?
Profile Image for John Farebrother.
114 reviews27 followers
September 7, 2017
What can be said about this book (or books, it comes in three volumes) that hasn't already been said? As well as the inside story of Stalin's prison camp system, it's practically the author's autobiography, he spent so long in there (eight years, for criticising Stalin in a letter to a friend while fighting in the battle of Berlin) or campaigning against the system as a result of his experiences. The vastness of his work reflects the scale of the prison system, through which I've heard say up to a third of the Soviet population passed at one time or another. The story details the tough regime he had to endure himself, as well as anecdotes about other prisoners he did time with, and rumours about even tougher regimes, up in the Arctic circle, from whence few returned. But he did come out of it alive (as did 81% of convicts, I've heard), and so some of his allegations, such as that the purpose of the camp system was extermination, are exaggerated. Nor should it be forgotten that the US imprisons dissidents. An important historical and social document, that few people will actually read because of its sheer size.
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