It is clearly the product of a different mind: not the wry, detached observer of the pettiness and stupidities of society, but rather a mind with a critical and well-honed vision. Resurrection is at its heart an engagement with justice, both with the criminal-justice system and with justice as a concept with essential social, political, and religious aspects. Its author has grown weary of a political debate that pits conservative upholders of autocratic rule against liberal reformers convinced they can shape a just system by issuing laws and regulations.
He looks with somewhat more bemusement, even admiration, at those who take a revolutionary perspective—who are convinced of the fundamental injustice of the Russian system and who are committed not to reforming it but to sweeping it away. But in the end, Tolstoy does not really share the revolutionary vocation either—at least not the vocation of the Social Revolutionaries, Anarchists, and Communists of his own age.
His vision restates the problem. The way a society treats those who are held entirely in its power—prisoners—tells us a great deal about the character of that society. Is the fundamental humanity of these prisoners recognized? Are their essential human needs attended to? Is serious attention paid to their guilt or innocence? Or are they simply made into scapegoats for the social and political problems of the day? Tolstoy renders a compelling portrait of the criminal-justice system of his day.
A woman clearly innocent of the crime of which she is accused being an accomplice in a theft and homicide is run through the criminal justice system. The prosecutor managing the case quickly realizes her innocence. Still, his major concern is securing convictions and bettering his record. There is, after all, a death, and someone must atone for it. The judge, likewise, soon reveals that he also realizes that the accused is innocent.
But his concern is primarily for his own career and the prospect of judicial advancement. A jury will, after all, decide the question of guilt or innocence. And though Tolstoy describes his own times—the final decades of Tsarist rule over the Russian Empire—it strikes me that his prosecutors, his judges, his jurors, his prison guards, could just as easily populate a federal court in America today. They present much the same foibles, weaknesses, vanities and political machinations. Tolstoy also gives us a credible first-hand description of jail and prison conditions.
Disease is widespread, cruelty practiced on the prisoners as a matter of routine.
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He documents the death of a number of the prisoners in the process of transportation to Siberia, providing an account that was literally taken from the newspapers as he composed the work. Things may be treated without love; one may chop wood, make bricks, forge iron without love; but one can no more deal with people without love than one can handle bees without care.
But the criticism hits its mark. Underneath the key failings at each step that he portrays in Resurrection lies the same phenomenon: the willingness of participants in the criminal justice system to view the accused as a means to one of their personal goals. In the absence of love, or at least respect for the fundamental humanity of the subject, the prospect that the system will produce something approaching justice disintegrates. The failing of this justice system lies not only in its victimization of the accused, but also in that it is unworthy of its other participants—the judges, jurors, prosecutors and defense counsel who populate the court rooms, as well the guards and administrators who run the prisons, living themselves in conditions but a halfstep removed from their charges.
Resurrection remains one of the most deeply felt and most persuasive critiques of modern liberal notions of criminal justice.
Conversation — August 5, , pm. Conversation — March 30, , pm. Context , No Comment — August 28, , pm. Sign in here. Subscribe here. By Wes Enzinna. By Alex Marzano-Lesnevich. By Lauren Elkin. By David Means. T hat year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep.
The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in. The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk.
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Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent.
In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead.
A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her.
Review of ‘The Kreutzer Sonata Variations’, trans. and ed. Michael R. Katz
A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. HP Chromebook 11 G5 Shop by category. Language see all.
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