Quotes from Cancer Ward

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ·  576 pages

Rating: (11.3K votes)


“A man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“Sometimes I feel quite distinctly that what is inside me is not all of me. There is something else, sublime, quite indestructible, some tiny fragment of the Universal spirit.Don't you feel that?”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“Like a bicycle, like a wheel that, once rolling, is stable only so long as it keeps moving but falls when its momentum stops, so the game between a man and woman, once begun, can exist only so long as it progresses. If the forward movement today is no more than it was yesterday, the game is over.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“As the two-thousand-year-old saying goes, you can have eyes and still not see. But a hard life improves vision.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward



“What is an optimist? The man who says, "It's worse everywhere else. We're better off than the rest of the world. We've been lucky." He is happy with things as they are and he doesn't torment himself.

What is a pessimist? The man who says, "Things are fine everywhere but here. Everyone else is better off than we are. We're the only ones who've had a bad break." He torments himself continually.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“It is not our level of prosperity that makes for happiness but the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world. Both attitudes lie within our power, so that a man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy, and no one can stop him.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“The meaning of existence was to preserve untarnished, undisturbed and undistorted the image of eternity which each person is born with - as far as possible.

Like a silver moon in a calm, still pond.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“Children write essays in school about the unhappy, tragic, doomed life of Anna Karenina. But was Anna really unhappy? She chose passion and she paid for her passion—that's happiness! She was a free, proud human being. But what if during peacetime a lot of greatcoats and peaked caps burst into the house where you were born and live, and ordered the whole family to leave house and town in twenty-four hours, with only what your feeble hands can carry?... You open your doors, call in the passers-by from the streets and ask them to buy things from you, or to throw you a few pennies to buy bread with... With ribbon in her hair, your daughter sits down at the piano for the last time to play Mozart. But she bursts into tears and runs away. So why should I read Anna Karenina again? Maybe it's enough—what I've experienced. Where can people read about us? Us? Only in a hundred years?
"They deported all members of the nobility from Leningrad. (There were a hundred thousand of them, I suppose. But did we pay much attention? What kind of wretched little ex-nobles were they, the ones who remained? Old people and children, the helpless ones.) We knew this, we looked on and did nothing. You see, we weren't the victims."
"You bought their pianos?"
"We may even have bought their pianos. Yes, of course we bought them."
Oleg could now see that this woman was not yet even fifty. Yet anyone walking past her would have said she was an old woman. A lock of smooth old woman's hair, quite incurable, hung down from under her white head-scarf.

"But when you were deported, what was it for? What was the charge?"
"Why bother to think up a charge? 'Socially harmful' or 'socially dangerous element'—S.D.E.', they called it. Special decrees, just marked by letters of the alphabet. So it was quite easy. No trial necessary."
"And what about your husband? Who was he?"
"Nobody. He played the flute in the Leningrad Philharmonic. He liked to talk when he'd had a few drinks."
“…We knew one family with grown-up children, a son and a daughter, both Komsomol (Communist youth members). Suddenly the whole family was put down for deportation to Siberia. The children rushed to the Komsomol district office. 'Protect us!' they said. 'Certainly we'll protect you,' they were told. 'Just write on this piece of paper: As from today's date I ask not to be considered the son, or the daughter, of such-and-such parents. I renounce them as socially harmful elements and I promise in the future to have nothing whatever to do with them and to maintain no communication with them.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“Surely people should eventually cease to be surprised at anything? And yet they continue to be.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward



“Should a man, to preserve his life, pay everything that gives life colour, scent and excitement? Can one accept a life of digestion, respiration, muscular and brain activity - and nothing more? Become a walking blueprint? Is this not an exorbitant price? Is it not mockery?”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“The Rusanovs loved the People, their great People. They served the People and were ready to give their lives for the People. But as the years went by they found themselves less and less able to tolerate actual human beings, those obstinate creatures who were always resistant, refusing to do what they were told to and, besides, demanding something for themselves.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“Should a man,
to preserve his life, pay everything that gives life colour,
scent
and excitement? Can one accept a life of digestion,
respiration, muscular
and brain activity-and nothing
more? 'Become a walking blueprint? Is this not an
exorbitant price? Is it not a mockery? Should one pay? Seven years in the army and seven years in the camp,twice seven years twice that mythical or biblical term,then to be deprived of the ability to tell what is a man and what is a woman--is not a price extortionate?”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“The earlier, the more fun. Why put it off? It’s the atomic age!”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“It's true that private enterprise is extremely flexible, But its only good within very narrow limits. If private enterprise isn't held in an iron grip it gives birth to people who are no better than beasts, those stock-exchange people with greedy appetites beyond restraint.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward



“An evil man threw tobacco in the macaque-rhesus eyes.' Oleg was struck dumb. Up to then he had been strolling along smiling with knowing condescension, but now he felt like yelling and roaring across the whole zoo, as though the tobacco had been thrown into his own eyes. 'Why?' Thrown into its eyes, just like that! 'Why? It's senseless! Why?'" - Kostoglotov”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“He’s retired, he’s just turned sixty, you know. And on the actual day of his retirement it turned out he wasn’t a radiologist at heart at all, he didn’t want to spend another day of his life on medicine. He’d always wanted to be a beekeeper, and now bees are the only thing he’ll take an interest in. How do these things happen, do you think? If you’re really a beekeeper, how is it that you waste the best years of your life doing something else?”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“One thing about women Yefrem had found out in his life: they cling.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“That’s all very well, but how many family doctors would you need? It simply doesn’t fit into the system of a free universal national health service.” “It’ll fit into a universal national health service, but it won’t fit into a free health service,” said Oreshchenkov, rumbling on and clinging confidently to his point. “But it’s our greatest achievement, the fact that it’s a free service.” “Is this in fact such a great achievement? What does ‘free’ mean? The doctors don’t work for nothing, you know. It only means that they’re paid out of the national budget and the budget is supported by patients. It isn’t free treatment, it’s depersonalized treatment. If a patient kept the money that pays for his treatments, he would have turned the ten roubles he has to spend at the doctor’s over and over in his hands. He could go to the doctor five times over if he really needed to.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“How old were you then?” “Fourteen.” “Do you remember anything about it?” “Very little.” “You don’t remember? It was like an earthquake. Apartment doors were flung wide open, people went in and took things and left. No one asked any questions. They deported a quarter of the city. Don’t you remember?” “Yes, I do. But the shameful thing is, at the time it didn’t seem the most important thing in the world. They explained it to us at school—why it was necessary, why it was expedient.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward



“By dying young, a man stays young forever in people’s memory. If he burns brightly before he dies, his light shines for all time. In his musings during the past few weeks Vadim had discovered an important and at first glance paradoxical point: a man of talent can understand and accept death more easily than a man with none—yet the former has more to lose. A man of no talent craves long life, yet Epicurus had once observed that a fool, if offered eternity, would not know what to do with it.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“You’re a member of the collective! You’re a member of the collective!’ That’s right. But only while he’s alive. When the time comes for him to die, we release him from the collective. He may be a member, but he has to die alone. It’s only he who is saddled with the tumor, not the whole collective.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“But now, as he paced up and down the ward, he remembered how the old folk used to die back home on the Kama—Russians, Tartars, Votyaks or whatever they were. They didn’t puff themselves up or fight against it or brag that they weren’t going to die—they took death calmly. They didn’t stall squaring things away, they prepared themselves quietly and in good time, deciding who should have the mare, who the foal, who the coat and who the boots.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“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.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“Generally speaking,” he remarked, “the family doctor is the most comforting figure in our lives, and now he’s being pulled up by the roots. The family doctor is a figure without whom the family cannot exist in a developed society. He knows the needs of each member of the family, just as the mother knows their tastes. There’s no shame in taking to him some trivial complaint you’d never take to the outpatients’ clinic, which entails getting an appointment card and waiting your turn, and where there’s a quota of nine patients an hour. And yet all neglected illnesses arise out of these trifling complaints. How many adult human beings are there, now, at this minute, rushing about in mute panic wishing they could find a doctor, the kind of person to whom they can pour out the fears they have deeply concealed or even found shameful? Looking for the right doctor is the sort of thing you can’t always ask your friends for advice about. You can’t advertise for one in a newspaper either. In fact, it’s a matter as essentially intimate as a search for a husband or a wife. But nowadays it’s easier to find a good wife than a doctor ready to look after you personally for as long as you want, and who understands you fully and truly.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward



“Eğer çocuklarınız sizden daha iyi değillerse onları boş yere dünyaya getirmişsiniz, siz de boş yere yaşamışsınız demektir.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“In his musings during the past few weeks Vadim had discovered an important and at first glance paradoxical point: a man of talent can understand and accept death more easily than a man with none—yet the former has more to lose. A man of no talent craves long life, yet Epicurus had once observed that a fool, if offered eternity, would not know what to do with it.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“She was wonderful, in spite of everything she was wonderful.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


“But substantial X-ray treatment is impossible without transfusion!” “Then don’t give it! Why do you assume you have the right to decide for someone else? Don’t you agree it’s a terrifying right, one that rarely leads to good? You should be careful. No one’s entitled to it, not even doctors.” “But doctors are entitled to that right—doctors above all,” exclaimed Dontsova with deep conviction. By now she was really angry. “Without that right there’d be no such thing as medicine!”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quote from Cancer Ward


About the author

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Born place: in Kislovodsk, Russian Federation
Born date December 11, 1918
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“That's how birthdays were in our house. All hateful charades of pretty clothes, expensive presents, and ugly words . . .”
― Debbie Howells, quote from The Bones of You


“Sarah felt about great sex the way St. George felt about slaying dragons...”
― Magnus Flyte, quote from City of Dark Magic


“-¿Hay algo que no sepas hacer?
-¡No! Puedes tomarme tranquilamente por un Dios.”
― Kerstin Gier, quote from Sapphire Blue


“He is looking down on the two crystal balls that the old man's foul, strong hands have rolled across to him. In one he sees Margaret, not in her raincoat and her nodding plumes, but as she is transfigured in the light of eternity. Long he looks there; then drops a glance to the other, just long enough to see that in its depths Kitty and I walk in bright dresses through our glowing gardens. We had suffered no transfiguration, for we are as we are, and there is nothing more to us. The whole truth about us lies in our material seeming. He sighs a deep sigh of delight and puts out his hand to the ball where Margaret shines. His sleeve catches the other one and sends it down to crash in a thousand pieces on the floor. The old man's smile continues to be lewd and benevolent; he is still not more interested in me than in the bare-armed woman. Chris is wholly inclosed in his intentness on his chosen crystal. No one weeps for this shattering of our world.”
― Rebecca West, quote from The Return of The Soldier


“I guess it's true what the French say: fortune favors the innocent. Lucky for me, it also favors the moderately dishonest.”
― Mary Elizabeth Summer, quote from Trust Me, I'm Lying


Interesting books

Seize the Night
(24.4K)
Seize the Night
by Dean Koontz
The Hunger Angel
(3.1K)
The Hunger Angel
by Herta Müller
Afterimage
(2.8K)
Afterimage
by Ais
Bad for You
(22K)
Bad for You
by Abbi Glines
Envy
(22.7K)
Envy
by Anna Godbersen
Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate
(4.4K)
Respectable Sins: Co...
by Jerry Bridges

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2023, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.