12.12.09

Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

There are days when I feel low about the state I find my life in. Whenever that happens, I tend to go read just one paragraph* to make me appreciate what I have.

"A lot of good things had happened that day. He hadn't been thrown in the hole. The gang hadn't been dragged off to Sotsgorodok. He'd swiped the extra gruel at dinnertime. The foreman had got a good rate for the job. He'd enjoyed working on the wall. He hadn't been caught with the blade at the search point. He'd earned a favour from Tsezar that evening. And he'd bought his tobacco.

The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one. Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell".

- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich


* sure, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of excerpts from other books that could be said to be more potent, more evocative, and more graphic about human suffering. But the sheer simplicity and clarity of this one, and the way in which it brought down everything to a few simple, basic requirements hit my 15-year old cocky self like no Gogol or Dickens or anybody else ever had. And that initial impact has been hard to shake off.


6 comments:

dipali said...

I'd loved that book too. Read it long long ago!

km said...

Great passage. Thanks for sharing.

Interesting to know that of all Russian writers, it was Solzhenitsyn that hooked you in during your teens. (For me, it was Gogol and then, for some reason, Gorky.)

Shyam said...

That was the first Russian book that I loved, and Solzhenitsyn the first Russian author I read. What you'd call a perfect start, because I havent liked quite every one of them (authors & books both) that I've read since.

The Bride said...

Russian authors (any) are another mountain I have yet to climb. Just can't get through any of them. Post on Joyce soon.

??! said...

Dipali:
It certainly is brilliant.

KM:
Well, I was heavily into short stories at the time I got to Gogol, so I guess the impact was kinda diluted. But this book really made me sit down and imagine the work camps, and all those years wasted away.

Shyam:
His later stuff does tend to get bogged down in details and details. But Cancer Ward was quite harrowing too.

The Bride:
Start with the short stories. Or Baba Yaga tales, if you still can't handle them.

brinda said...

Baba Yaga! Thank you for reminding me. And am I the only boring one to start off the Russian phase with Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky?