The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 Quotes

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The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, books V-VII The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, books V-VII by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 Quotes (showing 1-4 of 4)
“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII
“How do people get to this clandestine Archipelago? Hour by hour planes fly there, ships steer their course there, and trains thunder off to it--but all with nary a mark on them to tell of their destination. And at ticket windows or at travel bureaus for Soviet or foreign tourists the employees would be astounded if you were to ask for a ticket to go there. They know nothing and they've never heard of the Archipelago as a whole or any one of its innumerable islands.

Those who go to the Archipelago to administer it get there via the training schools of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Those who go there to be guards are conscripted via the military conscription centers.

And those who, like you and me, dear reader, go there to die, must get there solely and compulsorily via arrest.

Arrest! Need it be said that it is a breaking point in your life, a bolt of lightning which has scored a direct hit on you? That it is an unassimilable spiritual earthquake not every person can cope with, as a result of which people often slip into insanity?

The Universe has as many different centers as there are living beings in it. Each of us is a center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: "You are under arrest."

If you are arrested, can anything else remain unshattered by this cataclysm?

But the darkened mind is incapable of embracing these dis­placements in our universe, and both the most sophisticated and the veriest simpleton among us, drawing on all life's experience,
can gasp out only: "Me? What for?"

And this is a question which, though repeated millions and
millions of times before, has yet to receive an answer.

Arrest is an instantaneous, shattering thrust, expulsion, somer­sault from one state into another.

We have been happily borne—or perhaps have unhappily
dragged our weary way—down the long and crooked streets of
our lives, past all kinds of walls and fences made of rotting wood,
rammed earth, brick, concrete, iron railings. We have never given
a thought to what lies behind them. We have never tried to pene­trate them with our vision or our understanding. But there is
where the Gulag country begins, right next to us, two yards away
from us. In addition, we have failed to notice an enormous num­ber of closely fitted, well-disguised doors and gates in these
fences. All those gates were prepared for us, every last one! And
all of a sudden the fateful gate swings quickly open, and four
white male hands, unaccustomed to physical labor but none­theless strong and tenacious, grab us by the leg, arm, collar, cap,
ear, and drag us in like a sack, and the gate behind us, the gate to
our past life, is slammed shut once and for all.

That's all there is to it! You are arrested!

And you'll find nothing better to respond with than a lamblike
bleat: "Me? What for?"

That's what arrest is: it's a blinding flash and a blow which
shifts the present instantly into the past and the impossible into
omnipotent actuality.

That's all. And neither for the first hour nor for the first day
will you be able to grasp anything else.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII
“Power is a poison well known for thousands of years. If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others! But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us, and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal. For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison. For them there is no antidote.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII

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