Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ivan Denisovich

 

Most beautiful sentences in English Literatures?

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their favorite lines from literature.

Here are some of their most beautiful replies.

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Suggested by CindyH11 Creative Commons / Flickr: 58621196@N05

2. “In our village, folks say God crumbles up the old moon into stars.”
—Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Suggested by Jasmin B., via Facebook

3. “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew
Suggested by mollyp49cf70741

4. “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Suggested by Brooke K., via Facebook

Suggested by tina6287 Creative Commons / Flickr: 29865701@N02

6. “Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
—Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
Suggested by Danielle O., via Facebook

7. “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Suggested by Kellie C., via Facebook

8. “What are men to rocks and mountains?”
—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Suggested by amandae16

Suggested by klavdijak22 Creative Commons / Flickr: rayseinefotos

10. “‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.’”
—Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Suggested by Shanna B., via Facebook

11. “The curves of your lips rewrite history.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Suggested by Therese K., via Facebook

12. “A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Suggested by amykartzmanr

Suggested by natyjira Creative Commons / Flickr: junevre

14. “As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these: a) Anything can happen to anyone. and b) It is best to be prepared.”
—Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Suggested by Alyssa P., via Facebook

15. “If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.”
—W. H. Auden, “The More Loving One
Suggested by Blake M., via Facebook

16. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Suggested by Missy W., via Facebook

Suggested by Domo Creative Commons / Flickr: kwarz

18. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Suggested by Emily F., via Facebook

19. “America, I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.”
—Allen Ginsburg, “America”
Suggested by Jimmy C., via Facebook

20. “It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat, but it was a defeat better than many victories.”
—W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage
Suggested by fireworkshurricanes

Suggested by amk93. Creative Commons / Flickr: chrisjl

22. “At the still point, there the dance is.”
—T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”
Suggested by vkanicka

23. “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
—Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
Suggested by Sam H., via Facebook

24. “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”
—Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank
Suggested by claires10

Suggested by Christina G., via Facebook Creative Commons / Flickr: yousefmalallah

26. “The pieces I am, she gather them and gave them back to me in all the right order.”
—Toni Morrison, Beloved
Suggested by lisah4b5176fb6

27. “How wild it was, to let it be.”
—Cheryl Strayed, Wild
Suggested by Natalie P., via Facebook

28. “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?”
—T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
Suggested by Kati A., via Facebook

Suggested by Barbara B., via Facebook Creative Commons / Flickr: library_of_congress

30. “She was lost in her longing to understand.”
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
Suggested by melibellel

31. “She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”
—Kate Chopin, “The Awakening
Suggested by Madeline M., via Facebook

32. “We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.”
—Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Suggested by Liza

Suggested by Kristen S., via Facebook Creative Commons / Flickr: nancyvioletavelez

34. “The half life of love is forever.”
—Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her
Suggested by xxx

35. “I sing myself and celebrate myself.”
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Suggested by Alyssa M., via Facebook

36. “There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”
—Bram Stroker, Dracula
Suggested by Adam A., via Facebook

Suggested by Emily W., via Facebook Creative Commons / Flickr: michael_wacker

37. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
—L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Suggested by Stacy W., via Facebook

38. “I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”
—Raymond Carver, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”
Suggested by Savey S., via Facebook

39. “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
—Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre
Suggested by Chelsea Z., via Facebook

Suggested by Sophie C., via Facebook Creative Commons Flickr: cedwardbrice

41. “I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”
—W. B. Yeats, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”
Suggested by niamhmdd

42. “It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes.”
—Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Suggested by uncnicole

43. “For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly.”
—Langston Hughes, The Big Sea
Suggested by TonyaPenn

Suggested by katepalo Creative Commons / Flickr: archer10

45. “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”
—Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Suggested by Maria K., via Facebook

46. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Suggested by carlyh3

47. “Journeys end in lovers meeting.”
—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Suggested by foresth2

Suggested by babydolllolita Creative Commons / Flickr: smithsonian

49. “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Suggested by Tatiana H., via Facebook

50. “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”
—Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Suggested by Sara S., via Facebook

51. “One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
—Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices
Suggested by par0023

 

Six Millions under correctional supervision in the U.S? Statement of facts

Six million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.  Far more than were in Stalin’s prison system and his gulags.

More than the two most populous States of China and India ever had in their prison systems.

One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich in his gulag is all you need to know about Ivan Denisovich: The idea that anyone could live for a minute in such circumstances seems impossible.  One day in the life of an American prison means much less: One day typically stretches out for decades.

A prison is a trap for catching time. Good reporting appears often about the inner life of the American prison, but the catch is that American prison life is mostly not dramatic. The reported stories fail to grab us:  for the most part, nothing happens.

Adam Gopnik published in JANUARY 30, 2012 a very lengthy article on “THE CAGING OF AMERICA:Why do we lock up so many people?”

I decided to split the article into two: The first part is the statement of facts and background, and the second part on the causes and how the US prison system functions (with minor editing).

Six million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.
Photograph by Steve Liss.

It isn’t the horror of the time at hand: It is the unimaginable sameness of the time ahead that makes prisons unendurable for their inmates. The inmates on death row in Texas are called men in “timeless time,” because they alone aren’t serving time: they aren’t waiting out five years or a decade or a lifetime. The basic reality of American prisons is not that of the lock and key but that of the lock and clock.

That’s why no one who has been inside a prison, if only for a day, can ever forget the feeling. Time stops. A note of attenuated panic, of watchful paranoia, anxiety, boredom and fear mixed into a kind of enveloping fog, covering the guards as much as the guarded.

Dylan sings:

“Sometimes I think this whole world is one big prison yard,

Some of us are prisoners, some of us are guards…”

It isn’t strictly true—just ask the prisoners—it contains a truth: the guards are doing time, too.

As a smart man once wrote after being locked up, the thing about jail is that there are bars on the windows and they won’t let you out. This simple truth governs all the others. What prisoners try to convey to the free is how the presence of time as something being done to you, instead of something you do things with, alters the mind at every moment.

For American prisoners, huge numbers of whom are serving sentences much longer than those given for similar crimes anywhere else in the civilized world—Texas alone has sentenced more than 400 teenagers to life imprisonment—time becomes in every sense this thing you serve.

For most privileged, professional people, the experience of confinement is a mere brush, encountered after a kid’s arrest…

For a great many poor people in America, particularly poor black men, prison is a destination that braids through an ordinary life, much as high school and college do for rich white ones.

More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives. Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850.

There are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery period. That city of the confined and the controlled, Lockuptown, is now the second largest in the United States.

The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to  731 prisoners for 100,000 US citizens.

No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that States spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. Ours is, bottom to top, a “ incarceration State,” in the flat verdict of Conrad Black, the former conservative press lord and newly minted reformer. Conrad Black is now imprisoned in Florida, thereby adding a new twist to an old joke: “A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged; a liberal is a conservative who’s been indicted; and a passionate prison reformer is a conservative who’s in one”.

The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least 50,000 men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.)

Prison rape is so endemic—more than 70.000 prisoners are raped each year—that it is routinely held out as a threat, part of the punishment to be expected. The subject is standard fodder for comedy, and an uncooperative suspect being threatened with rape in prison is now represented, every night on television, as an ordinary and rather lovable bit of policing.

The normalization of prison rape—like eighteenth-century japery about watching men struggle as they die on the gallows—will surely strike our descendants as chilling sadistic, incomprehensible on the part of people who thought themselves civilized.

Though we avoid looking directly at prisons, they seep obliquely into our fashions and manners. Wealthy white teenagers in baggy jeans and laceless shoes and multiple tattoos show, unconsciously, the reality of incarceration that acts as a hidden foundation for the country.

How did we get here? How is it that our civilization, which rejects hanging and flogging and disembowelment, came to believe that caging vast numbers of people for decades is an acceptably humane sanction? There’s a fairly large recent scholarly literature on the history and sociology of crime and punishment, and it tends to trace the American zeal for punishment back to the nineteenth century, apportioning blame in two directions.

There’s an essentially Northern explanation, focussing on the inheritance of the notorious Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia, and its “reformist” tradition. And a Southern explanation, which sees the prison system as essentially a slave plantation continued by other means. (to be followed)

Note 1: In Israel, over 60% of Palestinian youth (less than 16 years) have passed in correctional institutions, not for any crimes committed, but for intimidation purposes and instilling fear in them…


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