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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn quotes Showing 1-30 of 514

“If only it were all 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. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favors, it always wants more tomorrow.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
“Thus it is that no cruelty whatsoever passes by without impact. Thus it is that we always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“It's an universal law-- intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“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 -- and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains ... an unuprooted small corner of evil.

Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“You only have power over people as long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power—he's free again.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Двести лет вместе
“A man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward
“When you're cold, don't expect sympathy from someone who's warm.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
“Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. "One word of truth outweighs the world.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
“… What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I'll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusionary -property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life -don't be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn for happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn't last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. It is enough if you don't freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don't claw at your insides. If your back isn't broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes can see, if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart -and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it may be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted on their memory.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
“The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward
“Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII
“To stand up for truth is nothing. For truth, you must sit in jail.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Education doesn't make you smarter.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“The sole substitute for an experience we have not ourselves lived through is art and literature.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
“One day Dostoevsky threw out the enigmatic remark: "Beauty will save the world". What sort of a statement is that? For a long time I considered it mere words. How could that be possible? When in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything? Ennobled, uplifted, yes - but whom has it saved?

There is, however, a certain peculiarity in the essence of beauty, a peculiarity in the status of art: namely, the convincingness of a true work of art is completely irrefutable and it forces even an opposing heart to surrender. It is possible to compose an outwardly smooth and elegant political speech, a headstrong article, a social program, or a philosophical system on the basis of both a mistake and a lie. What is hidden, what distorted, will not immediately become obvious.

Then a contradictory speech, article, program, a differently constructed philosophy rallies in opposition - and all just as elegant and smooth, and once again it works. Which is why such things are both trusted and mistrusted.

In vain to reiterate what does not reach the heart.

But a work of art bears within itself its own verification: conceptions which are devised or stretched do not stand being portrayed in images, they all come crashing down, appear sickly and pale, convince no one. But those works of art which have scooped up the truth and presented it to us as a living force - they take hold of us, compel us, and nobody ever, not even in ages to come, will appear to refute them.

So perhaps that ancient trinity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty is not simply an empty, faded formula as we thought in the days of our self-confident, materialistic youth? If the tops of these three trees converge, as the scholars maintained, but the too blatant, too direct stems of Truth and Goodness are crushed, cut down, not allowed through - then perhaps the fantastic, unpredictable, unexpected stems of Beauty will push through and soar to that very same place, and in so doing will fulfil the work of all three?

In that case Dostoevsky's remark, "Beauty will save the world", was not a careless phrase but a prophecy? After all he was granted to see much, a man of fantastic illumination.

And in that case art, literature might really be able to help the world today?”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Lecture
“Someone that you have deprived of everything is no longer in your power. He is once again entirely free.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle
“My wish for you... is that your skeptic-eclectic brain be flooded with the light of truth.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle
“Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing?”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
“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 -- and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
tags: evil, good
“A great disaster had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
“Human rights' are a fine thing, but how can we make ourselves sure that our rights do not expand at the expense of the rights of others. A society with unlimited rights is incapable of standing to adversity. If we do not wish to be ruled by a coercive authority, then each of us must rein himself in...A stable society is achieved not by balancing opposing forces but by conscious self-limitation: by the principle that we are always duty-bound to defer to the sense of moral justice.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Rebuilding Russia: Reflections and Tentative Proposals
“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
“Do not pursue what is illusory - property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade and can be confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life - don't be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn after happiness; it is after all, all the same: the bitter doesn't last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. ”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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