The second volume of the Gulag trilogy is primarily focused on the work camps He continues his excellent narrative with some amazing stories and describes the people of the archipelago as they really were This is a remarkable work and should receive a wider audience than it does This book is about humanity at its best but often at its worst This is one of the most important works available to understand the human soul. If one is to read only one part of the trilogy, this is perhaps the one The first one has a lot of history and context which are relevant but not unique I am sure the last one the one I am going through now will have a lot of views on consequences and future The middle volumes are the core that defines the monumental work.A lot of what I reviewed in the first volume is worth repeating If there is any literary work, where no reviewer is even worthy of commenting, this is perhaps that Our race has seen indescribable tragedies The worst are perhaps those created by men themselves Stalin s great purge must rank near the top of any such list Solzhenitsyn s work ensures that future generations never forget its minutest details That the author published this at tremendous personal risks and post achievements like a Nobel prize which would make perhaps some other to turn less ambitious or brave embellishes the great service this work has done to our societies.That said, this is an incredibly hard book to read The writing style is fluid Despite the voluminous details and hundreds of tales containing different types of people, places and nature, the rhythm is consistent and rarely containing too much than necessary Yet, this encyclopedic work is like a dictionary or an almanack A reader s emotions would reach the revulsion limits early with the framework set in terms of what to expect The grimness is relentless and beyond a point, many may feel sick worried about one s own sadistic tendencies to keep reading A tragedy involving millions could have tales differing somewhat that could last books hundreds of times as big or summarized with key details in a length perhaps one fifth Some, like this reviewer, may feel guilty leaving such a great work midway as well and plod on Every reader may have her own point at which the book becomes too much.The second volume focuses on the life in Gulag Gone are descriptions of events that led to the purge or explanations of the era defining terms like Gulag, GPU, NKVD, Cheka, the labour penal system etc This book is just about the slave like life in the labour camps. The fact that Solzhenitsyn made it out of the Gulag alive and blessed us with this book is an absolute gift This is the most influential book I ve read to date in my life A Masterpiece 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. Volume two was just as soul crushing as Volume I full review to come at the end of Volume III The section entitled The Soul and Barbed Wire certainly makes the journey worthwhile, and I am very glad to be reading the unabridged version. Finally can start reading this again I got a replacement though it be a lowly paperback reprint as I m no longer wealthy for my 1st edition that the USPS lost when I moved, along with 36lbs of other collectible and expensive books several volumes of A Study of History unabridged, Hitler s War, Inwagen s Metaphysics, A Secular Age, Philosophy for Graduate Students, The World as Will and Representation, vols 1 and 9 of Copleston s history, Wilson s Sociobiology, Wittgenstein s Investigations, Strauss Howe Generations, a 1st edition of Race, Evolution, Behavior by Rushton, The Camp of the Saints, Plantinga s Warrant books, Chadwick s 140 study of the Great Schism, the Denzinger 46th ed., Heresy and Authority in the Middle Ages, the collected Plato and Aristotle, the life of Darwin, Suetonius and Livy in Loeb editions, etc etc assholes delivered the lid of my box in a bag with a snide apology for losing the other 5 sides of the box. So we re through Volume Two of this behemoth indictment on the evils that occurred in Russia between the years of 1918 and 1956 As I stated in the review of Volume One, the level of emotional intensity at which this series of books is written is pretty unbelievable It s no wonder this book is credited as helping to bring down the Soviet Union.This volumes two parts focus on camp and camp life where you end up after interrogation and transit prisons covered in the first book then an unbelievable chapter called The Soul and Barbed Wire Only those can understand us who ate from the same bowl with us Hutzul girlThere is no limit to what should be included in this part To attain and encompass its savage meaning one would have to drag out many lives in the camps the very same in which one cannot survive for even one term without some special advantage because they were invented for destruction And from this it follows that all those who drank of this most deeply, who explored it most fully, are already in their graves and cannot tell us No one now can ever tell us the most important thing about these camps And the whole scope of this story and of this truth is beyond the capabilities of one lonely pen All I had was a peephole into the Archipelago, not the view from a towerTo taste the sea all one needs is one gulp In all the brightness it is as if there were no sin presentit is as if nature here had not yet matured to the point of sin Prishvin describing the Solovetski IslandsSo we begin at what I gather was one of the first campsbefore the Islands metastasized The Solovetski Islands.How had it happened that the hares had not been exterminated They would explain it to the newcomer this way The little beasts and birds are not afraid here because there is a GPU order in effectSave ammunitionNot a single shot is to be fired, except at a prisoner Describing a night wherein three men executed 300 prisoners at the cemetery on Solovetski By night s end, at any rate, he was seen washing off the blood soaked tops of his boots, one after the other over a washbasinThey were drunk and careless and in the morning the enormous pit, only lightly covered over, was still stirring and moving.Here he talks about how a certain Judge Leibowitz of New York acclaimed the Gulag system after he visited it Oh, what an intelligent, farsighted humane administration from top to bottom, as Supreme Court Judge Leibowitz of New York State wrote in Life magazine, after having visited Gulag In serving out his term of punishment the prisoner retains a feeling of dignity That is what he comprehended and sawOh, fortunate New York State, to have such a perspicacious jackass for a judge And oh, you well fed, devil may care, nearsighted, irresponsible foreigners with your notebooks and your ball point pens how much you have harmed us in your vain passion to shine with understanding in areas where you did not grasp a lousy thing And things only got worse in camps after this little Marxist gem was implemented They dug down deeper into the storage chest of history and dragged out what Marx had called extraeconomic coercion In camp and on collective farms this discovery was presented with bare fangs And then Frenkel came along and, like a devil sprinkling a poison into the boiling cauldron, he poured in the differentiated ration pot. There was a famous incantation repeated over and over again In the new social structure there can be no place for the discipline of the stick on which serfdom was based, nor the discipline of starvation on which capitalism is based And there you are the Archipelago managed miraculously to combine the one and the other.Here we finally get into some of the authors experiences in his first hard labor camp And tomorrow would be the same and every day six cars of red clay three scoops of black gruel In transit prison, too, we seemed to have grown weak, but here it went much faster There was already a ringing in the head That pleasant weakness, in which it is easier to give in than to fight back, kept coming closer And in the barracks total darkness We lay there dressed in everything wet on everything bare, and it seemed it was warmer not to take anything off like a poultice Open eyes looked at the black ceiling, at the black heavens Good Lord Good Lord Beneath the shells and the bombs I begged you to preserve my life And now I beg you, please send me death.Solzhenitsyn is describing the common way death occurred in camp The diarrhea takes out of a man both strength and all interest in other people, in life, in himself He grows deaf and stupid, and he loses all capacity to weep, even when he is being dragged along the ground behind a sledge He is no longer afraid of death he is wrapped in a submissive, rosy glow He has crossed all boundaries and has forgotten the name of his wife, of his children, and finally his own name too Sometimes the entire body of a man dying of starvation is covered with blue black pimples like peas, with pus filled heads smaller than a pinhead his face, his arms, legs, his trunk, even his scrotum It is so painful he cannot be touched The tiny boils come to a head and burst and a thick wormlike string of pus is forced out of them The man is rotting aliveBut there is one form of early release that no bluecap can take away from the prisoner This release is death And this is the most basic, the steadiest form of Archipelago output there is with no normsIn the autumn of 1941, Pechorlag the railroad camp had a listed population of fifty thousand prisoners, and in the spring of 1942, ten thousand During this period not one prisoner transport was sent out of Pechorlag anywhere so where did the forty thousand prisoners go I have written thousand here in italics why Because I learned these figures accidentally from a zek who had access to them But you would not be able to get them for all camps in all periods nor to total them up.Talking about checking the dead every single day This was seldom like an autopsy a long vertical cut from neck to crotch, breaking leg bones, pulling the skull apart at its seam Mostly it was not a surgeon but a convoy guard who verified the corpse to be certain the zek was really dead and not pretending And for this they ran the corpse through with a bayonet or smashed the skull with a big mallet And right there they tied to the big toe of the corpse s right foot a tag with his prison file numberOne of my favorite parts was when he went through some of the ridiculous ways you could get arrested and get a tenner in GULAG Orachevsky had been given only five years he had been imprisoned for a facial crime really out of Orwell for a smile while showing another teacher in the classroom something in Pravda, he had smiled The other teacher was killed soon after, so no one ever found out what Orachevsky had been smiling at But the smile had been observed, and the fact of smiling at the central organ of the Party was in itself sacrilege A tailor laying aside his needle stuck it into a newspaper on the wall so it wouldn t get lost and happened to stick it in the eye of a portrait of Kaganovich A customer observed this Article 58, ten years terrorism A saleswoman accepting merchandise from a forwarder noted down on a sheet of newspaper There was no other paper The number of pieces of soap happened to fall on the forehead of Comrade Stalin Article 58, ten yearsHowever, for the most part fantastic accusations were not really required There existed a very simple standardized collection of charges from which it was enough for the interrogator to pick one or two and stick them like postage stamps on an envelope Discrediting the LeaderA negative attitude toward the collective farm structureA negative attitude toward state loans and what normal person could have a positive attitude A negative attitude toward the Stalinist constitutionA negative attitude toward whatever was the immediate, particular measure being carried out by the PartySympathy for TrotskyFriendliness toward the United StatesEtc., etc., etc.He talks of prisoners, who although imprisoned for ridiculous and false transgressions, remained dead red, orthodox Communists throughout their whole internment He is impenetrable He speaks in a language which requires no effort of the mind And arguing with him is like walking through a desert It s about people like that that they say he made the rounds of all the smithies and came home unshod And when they write in their obituaries perished tragically during the period of the cult, this should be corrected to read perished comically Take Prokhorov Pustover, also a Bolshevik, though not a Party member, who turned in zeks for deliberately failing to fulfill work norms He used to report this to the chiefs, and the zeks got punished To the zeks reproaches that he must realize it was slave labor, Pustover replied That s a strange philosophy In capitalist countries the workers struggle against slave labor but we, even if we are slaves, work for a socialist state, not for private persons These officials are only temporarily in power One blow from the peopleand they will disappear, but the people s state will remain It sa jungle, the consciousness of an orthodox Communist It s impossible to make sense of it.Discussing escape attempts But a man who seriously undertook to escape became very swiftly fearsome Some of them set fire to the taiga behind them in order to get the dogs off their trailIn 1949a fugitive was detained with human flesh in his knapsack he had killed an unconvoyed artist with a five year term who had crossed his pathand had not yet had the chance to cook it.In the spring of 1947 in the Kolymatwo convoy guards were leading a column of zeks And suddenly one zekskillfully attacked the convoy guards on his own, disarmed them, and shot them both The bold fellow announced to the column that it was free But the prisoners were overwhelmed with horror no one followed his lead, and they all sat down right there and waited for a new convoyAnd then he took up the rifles thirty two cartridges, thirty one for themand left alone He killed and wounded several pursuers and with his thirty second cartridge he shot himself The entire Archipelago might well have collapsed if all former front liners had behaved as he did.Discussing thieves read knights and there treatment under their ridiculous laws Here is what our laws were like for thirty years For robbery of the state, embezzlement of state funds, a packing case from a state warehouse, for three potatoes from a collective farm ten years But robbery of a free personSuppose they cleaned out an apartmentIf it was not accompanied by murder, then the sentence was up to one year, sometimes six months The thieves flourished because they were encouraged Through its laws the Stalinist power said to the thieves clearly Do not steal from me Steal from private persons You see, private property is a belch from the past.Discussing the actual guards The convoy had nothing to fear from any investigation, and did not have to give any explanations Every convoy guard who fired was right Every prisoner killed was guiltyAt the gatehouse, a zek ran up to a guard with a release document and asked Let me through, I am going to the laundry outside the camp compound I ll only be a minute You can t But tomorrow I m going to be free, fool The guard shot him dead And there wasn t even a trial.In 1938a forest fire flew with the speed of a hurricaneand from the forest into two camps What was to be done with the zeks The decision had to be made instantly there was no time to consult with higher jurisdictions The guards refused to release them and they all burned to death That was the easy way If they had been released and escaped, the guards would have been court martialed.Now we re finally on to Part IV The Soul and Barbed WireBehold, I shew you a mystery we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changedI Corinthians, 15 51 Think Draw some conclusions from the misfortune And all that endless time, after all, the prisoner s brains and souls are not inactive In the mass and from a distance they seem like swarming lice, but they are the crown of creation, right After all, once upon a time a weak little spark of God was breathed into them too is it not true So what has become of it now Along our chosen road are twists and turns and twists and turns Uphill Or up into the heavens Let s go, let s stumble and stagger The day of liberation What can it give us after so many years We will change unrecognizably and so will our near and dear onesAnd the thought of freedom after a time even becomes a forced thought Far fetched Strange The day of liberation As if there were any liberty in this countryOr as if it were possible to liberate anyone who has not first become liberated in his own soul.His friend telling him a story while he s in the hospital And on the whole, do you know, I have become convinced that there is no punishment that comes to us in this life on earth which is undeserved Superficially it can have nothing to do with what we are guilty of in actual fact, but if you go over your life with a fine tooth comb and ponder it deeply, you will always be able to hunt down that transgression of your for which you have now received this blow The Nuremberg Trials have to be regarded as one of the special achievements of the twentieth century they killed the very idea of evil, though they killed very few of the people who had been infected with itAnd if by the twenty first century humanity has not yet blown itself up and has not suffocated itself perhaps it is this direction that will triumph Yes, and if it does not triumph then all humanity s history will have turned out to be an empty exercise in marking time, without the tiniest mite of meaning Whither and to what end will we otherwise be moving To beat the enemy over the head with a club even a caveman knew that And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometime to the astonishment of those about meBless you, prisonAll human emotions love, friendship, envy, love of one s fellows, mercy, thirst for fame, honesty fell away from us along with the meat of our musclesWe had no pride, no vanity, and even jealousy and passion seemed to be Martian conceptsThe only thing left was anger the most enduring of human emotions We came to understand that truth and falsehoods were kind sisters Those people became corrupted in camp who had already been corrupted out in freedom or who were ready for it Because people are corrupted in freedom too, sometimes even effectively than in camp In a culture of corruption and liesthe strong get eaten first Yes, it was a lottery all right, but some of the numbers were fixed They threw out a general dragnet and arrested in accordance with assigned quota figures, yes, but every person who objected publicly they grabbed that very minute And it turned into a selection on the basis of soul,not a lottery Those who were bold fell beneath the axe, were sent off to the Archipelago and the picture of the monotonously obedient freedom remained unruffled All those who were purer and better could not stay in that society and without them it kept getting and trashy you would not notice these quiet departures at all But they were, in fact, the dying of the soul of the people I ll end with this Looking back, I saw that for my whole conscious life I had not understood either myself or my strivings What had seemed for so long to be beneficial now turned out in actuality to be that which was truly necessary to me But just as the waves of the sea knock the inexperienced swimmer off his feet and keep tossing him back onto the shore, so also was I painfully tossed back on dry land by the blows of misfortune And it was only because of this that I was able to travel the path which I had always really wanted to travel It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience how a human being becomes evil and how good In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I senses within 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 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 remainsan 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. Another chunk of one of the most staggering literary achievements I ve ever taken in It s insane to me just how exhaustive Solszhenitsyn was on every front it truly feels like everything is accounted for in this narrative historically, biographically, and existentially On top of all that, his prose is always vibrant, his narrative always engaging, and his dark sense of humor always keeping you anchored through one of humanity s worst storms The chapter in here that s written as a satirical ethnographic essay is one of the most brilliant pieces of writing I ve ever encountered Definitely read these if you want a powerful glimpse into one of humanity s darkest hours and how the light still managed to peek through. This book troubles my soul deeply, as I think it does with every reader It is not at all heavy in the sense of style, well that was an exageration, but S s language is very vivid and capturing despite that this is not a novel It is probably fitting that the Gulag Archipelago is immensly long, since that heavyness of the books can only be match by that heavyness of the subject S shows that massive proportions of the foulness of the communist regime It permeated the whole of society and it is almost unbelievable how this is not fictitious I left this book with a heavy heart, and it doesn t seem to brighten up by reading volume 3 eaither But I will do so nonetheless because this is history and fates that must be acknowledged. Drawing On His Own Incarceration And Exile, As Well As On Evidence From Than Fellow Prisoners And Soviet Archives, Aleksandr I Solzhenitsyn Reveals The Entire Apparatus Of Soviet Repression The State Within The State That Ruled All Powerfully Through Truly Shakespearean Portraits Of Its Victims Men, Women, And Children We Encounter Secret Police Operations, Labor Camps And Prisons The Uprooting Or Extermination Of Whole Populations, The Welcome That Awaited Russian Soldiers Who Had Been German Prisoners Of War Yet We Also Witness The Astounding Moral Courage Of The Incorruptible, Who, Defenseless, Endured Great Brutality And Degradation The Gulag Archipelago A Grisly Indictment Of A Regime, Fashioned Here Into A Veritable Literary Miracle Has Now Been Updated With A New Introduction That Includes The Fall Of The Soviet Union And Solzhenitsyn S Move Back To Russia Solzhenitsyn continues his mammoth exploration of the Gulag with a detailed study of the labor camp system, its practices, and its residents, the natives of Gulag He then follows with a much shorter meditation on the choices human beings trapped in the system faced, to retain their humanity and likely lose their lives, or to betray the very core of humanity within them in order to survive Hard reading, but necessary.
was a Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian Through his writings he helped to make the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union s forced labor camp system particularly The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best known works Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970 He was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and returned to Russia in 1994 Solzhenitsyn was the father of Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a conductor and pianist.AKA
- Mass Market Paperback
- 712 pages
- Архипелаг ГУЛАГ
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- 08 October 2017 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn