Thursday, 28 April 2011

Cancer Ward (Solzhenitsyn)

I read this book when I was 18 or so. It is one of these books so imbued with a profound human feeling, so harrowing, that it makes you wonder why on earth you had been reading these other books all along and whether there is any point in continuing to do so. Indeed, that resonates with this comment by Solzhenitsyn:

Literature that is not the breath of contemporary society, that dares not transmit the pains and fears of that society, that does not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers—such literature does not deserve the name of literature; it is only a façade. Such literature loses the confidence of its own people, and its published works are used as wastepaper instead of being read.

My favourite quotation from this book, and one that does justice to the above description is this:

One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.


Drunk Detective said...

Thanks for this. I was wondering whether to read the second hand copy I've had for a while now. Those excerpts, and the (brief) review, have made up my mind. Cheers!