Alexander Solzhenitsyn Quotes

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 thousandfold 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.

A person is happy only in the collective and for the collective – for doing something standing shoulder to shoulder with all and sundry and serving something, united in a common feeling.

The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.

Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle.

A state that does not feed its own people is a dangerous state.

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good.

Power is a poison well known for thousands of years. If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others!

The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles.

The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul.

Our envy of others devours us most of all.

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?

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.

If it were possible, I would be quite content never to leave my writing desk again.

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.

I am able to acknowledge that I lived in a society where materialism and cowardice ruled.

If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?

Perennial modernism is inimical to producing works of vision.

Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.

We know they are lying, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, we know they know we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity.

It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes… we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions

Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 20th century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.

Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.

Very few people are concerned with the actual reality of the situation. They all love to reproduce what they call Lenin’s phrase: ‘The worse, the better.’

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.

I am back in Russia now. I have deposited the objective story of my exile, but I must remember, all the time, that I myself am a function of the Lie.

Culture is not just the sum of individual works of art, or a set of customs and life patterns peculiar to a small number of people. Culture is the measure of the moral level that society has made it to and where it is at the moment.

You only have power over people as long as you don’t take away everything from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power.

The law is battle. Legal rules are weapons.

A great writer is, so to speak, a second government in his country. And for that reason no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.

The search for happiness, with its subsequent metamorphoses and distortions, has always been a favorite prey of novelists.

There is nothing you can do. There is not a book in your country that could oppose the best of ours.

Justice is conscience.

Yes, and what is strange, what would be marvelous, is not that God should really exist; the marvel is that such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God, could enter the head of such a savage, vicious beast as man.

It was only when one lay there on the rotting prison straw that one sensed the triviality of what one had wanted.

Human behavior is economic behavior.

We’ve got to shoulder our horror and arms as if we were in civil war, because elsewhere in the world, civil war is the only alternative to that of being quietly poisoned here.

Stalinism is not a decaying and hollowed-out organism but a growing one. More alive than all the living.

More than once did I glance back in hope that the open prison gates would close forever on ‘the trapped soul’; but they did not close.

The state was organized violence, was it not? The guillotine, the gallows, the electric chair, the Nazis, the Stalinists, the state has always had the monopoly of force and violence.

You can resolve to live with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world; let it even triumph. But not through me.

A person’s involvement in politics should never exceed the scope of their moral integrity.

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Ignorance is the first requisite of the historian. Ignorance, which simplifies and clarifies, is unquestionably bliss. Note: These quotes are either directly mentioned by Alexander Solzhenitsyn or inspired by his thoughts and writings.

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