and I quote:


I’ve always liked sorting things–that might be why I write some blog posts to feature in different series. So far I’ve brought you interesting sights (Art to Share),  interesting sounds (Listen:) and interesting cranial expanders (Mind Stretch). Today I start another series, calling attention to notable quotes.

This quote came to mind last week as I contemplated politicians and the things they say, and the temptation to think in terms of us versus them:

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But 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?” –Alexander Solzhenitsyn, (1918-2008)*

To my mind, one sign of a great writer is this ability to hold us accountable for cramped thoughts like those described, to help us see them for what they are, and to ask us to rise above them.

If you catch yourself thinking how much simpler things would be if only we could get rid of them (whoever they are), what helps you to snap out of it?



*Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. You can find Wikipedia’s summary here, and a short autobiographical sketch at His full name, using Eastern Slavic naming customs, is Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn. Here’s what it looks like in Cyrillic: Алекса́ндр Иса́евич Солжени́цын

[A note on the opening image: a print of this engraving by Gustave Doré of Cervantes’ Don Quixote has hung in our home for many years. The caption reads, “A world of disorderly notions, picked out of his books, crowded into his imagination.” As I add to this quotes series, let’s see what kinds of notions come crowding into ours….]

5 thoughts on “and I quote:

  1. Thank you for that interesting quote, Lori, and for the wonderful engraving. I must say that my mind feels just like that about now!

    • Thanks, Marian. The engraving is a favorite–so much to see. Doré actually did several plates for the Don Quixote edition. I’m planning to hunt them up.

  2. I really like this quote, thanks for posting it. It strikes me as rather subversive, but in a way that I agree with.

    • It intrigues me on a couple of levels. I like his reminder that evil isn’t just over there. (I think you introduced me to the Pogo quote: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”) I’m also held by the question about a willingness to destroy a piece of one’s own heart. It sounds like he assumes no one is that crazy, but can we transform our own hearts without destroying the way they used to be?

  3. The last line suggests to me that Solzhenitsyn not only believes we all have evil in our hearts, but that each of us recognizes this.

    Yes, I’ve always liked that Pogo quote! I am always surprised by the number of people, some of whom I like and respect, who don’t think that way. Many people I know think that the greater threat in the world is “them” rather than “us”.

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