Catalogue

COVID-19: Updates on library services and operations.

The silent escape : three thousand days in Romanian prisons /
Lena Constante ; translation by Franklin Philip ; introduction by Gail Kligman.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1995.
description
xviii, 257 p.
ISBN
0520082095
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1995.
isbn
0520082095
catalogue key
953781
 
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"A heartbreaking, human document . . . that ranks comparably to Eugenia Ginzburg's In the Whirlwind and Nadezhda Mandelstam's Hope Against Hope."--Vladimir Tismaneanu, author of Reinventing Politics "A superb book. Without ever lapsing into self-pity, it allows the reader to enter the nightmarishly vindictive Romanian political prison system."--Daniel Chirot, author of The Origins of Backwardness in Eastern Europe
Flap Copy
"A heartbreaking, human document . . . that ranks comparably to Eugenia Ginzburg's In the Whirlwind and Nadezhda Mandelstam's Hope Against Hope ."--Vladimir Tismaneanu, author of Reinventing Politics "A superb book. Without ever lapsing into self-pity, it allows the reader to enter the nightmarishly vindictive Romanian political prison system."--Daniel Chirot, author of The Origins of Backwardness in Eastern Europe
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1995-07:
Winner of the 1992 Prix Europ'een of the Association des Ecrivains de Langue Fran,caise, Constante's prison memoir presents a sequence familiar to readers of political incarcerations. Constante was in continuous solitary confinement for 3,000 days. Her narrative ends when, after more than eight years, she was moved to a cell with other women (Constante says, "my three-and-a-half years of communal life are really a whole other story"). One is impelled to ask: How is it possible to live for 3,000 days separated from human contact? And how does one recall such a time? This compelling text is an answer--and it is also a monument to human will, invention, and ingenuity. Constante bemoans the "loss" of the 300-odd days she cannot recall, and enumerates the days periodically where her memory fails to serve. What she does remember is remarkable; she not only served 12 years and more in prison but also relived it from 1977 to 1985 as she wrote. How does one repair clothes? How to write without a pencil? How to make a comb? Above all, how to keep your sanity? And how did she remember? She asks, "What can I do to recall it more precisely?" She accomplishes this by summoning feeling first: "Once again the same anxiety, the same rebellion ...." Then the cell appears: "The darkness. The obstructed window. The shutters ...." Finally, the sounds: " ... G. had summoned me to the (cell) wall (by knocking). We were going to be leaving." As Constante "returns" to her solitude she takes readers along and wonderfully, frighteningly, invites them to feel and see and hear. All levels. E. J. Zimmermann; Canisius College
Appeared in Library Journal on 1995-03-01:
Constante, an artist convicted of espionage in 1954, endured 12 years in prison in Romania. The first eight years, which she spent in solitary confinement, are the subject of this powerful and terrifying book. Constante re-creates the rituals of everyday life in prison and the brutal interrogation methods, offering gripping descriptions of physical and psychological pain. During her confinement, Constante kept her mind active by memorizing artistic compositions and learning the "language of the walls" to communicate with other prisoners. She also became engaged in intense solidarity with the other women in prison, which bolstered her will to survive. This is an important contribution to the literature of the Stalinist period in Eastern Europe, to prison narratives (joining the works of Arthur Koestler, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Evgenia Ginzburg), and to the literature of the human spirit. Highly recommended for all libraries.‘Thomas Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, Pa. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1995-02-06:
Romanian artist Constante and her companion, Harry Brauner, an ethnomusicologist, were caught in the dragnet for the show trial of Romanian Minister of Justice Lucretiu Patrascanu in 1954. Patrascanu was convicted of treason and executed; Constante was sentenced to l2 years' imprisonment‘as was Brauner‘with five years deducted for the period she was detained while awaiting trial. In this expressive, desolate memoir, she recreates the test to her spirit of the solitary confinement she endured for seven years: ``For 576,000 minutes I was subjected to this assault... 288,000 times,'' she writes of the surveillance at the peephole of her cell. After her conviction, prison became marginally more endurable when she mastered the technique of ``talking'' to other prisoners‘23 taps on the wall, for example, conveyed the letter w. At the end of this volume, Constante is moved into a communal cell‘her experiences in which, she says, she will recount in another book. She also tells us that she was released in 1961 and exonerated in 1968. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, February 1995
Library Journal, March 1995
Booklist, April 1995
Choice, July 1995
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
I have lived, alone, in a cell, 157,852,800 seconds of solitude and fear. Cause for screaming! They sentence me to live yet another 220,838,400 seconds! To live them or to die from them."--fromThe Silent Escape Victim of Stalinist-era terror, Lena Constante was arrested on trumped-up charges of "espionage" and sentenced to twelve years in Romanian prisons.The Silent Escapeis the extraordinary account of the first eight years of her incarceration--years of solitary confinement during which she was tortured, starved, and daily humiliated. The only woman to have endured isolation so long in Romanian jails, Constante is also one of the few women political prisoners to have written about her ordeal. Unlike other more political prison diaries, this book draws us into the practical and emotional experiences of everyday prison life. Candidly, eloquently, Constante describes the physical and psychological abuses that were the common lot of communist-state political prisoners. She also recounts the particular humiliations she suffered as a woman, including that of male guards watching her in the bathroom. Constante survived by escaping into her mind--and finally by discovering the "language of the walls," which enabled her to communicate with other female inmates. A powerful story of totalitarianism and human endurance, this work makes an important contribution to the literature of "prison notebooks.
Main Description
"I have lived, alone, in a cell, 157,852,800 seconds of solitude and fear. Cause for screaming! They sentence me to live yet another 220,838,400 seconds! To live them or to die from them."--from The Silent Escape Victim of Stalinist-era terror, Lena Constante was arrested on trumped-up charges of "espionage" and sentenced to twelve years in Romanian prisons. The Silent Escape is the extraordinary account of the first eight years of her incarceration--years of solitary confinement during which she was tortured, starved, and daily humiliated. The only woman to have endured isolation so long in Romanian jails, Constante is also one of the few women political prisoners to have written about her ordeal. Unlike other more political prison diaries, this book draws us into the practical and emotional experiences of everyday prison life. Candidly, eloquently, Constante describes the physical and psychological abuses that were the common lot of communist-state political prisoners. She also recounts the particular humiliations she suffered as a woman, including that of male guards watching her in the bathroom. Constante survived by escaping into her mind--and finally by discovering the "language of the walls," which enabled her to communicate with other female inmates. A powerful story of totalitarianism and human endurance, this work makes an important contribution to the literature of "prison notebooks."

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem