LIGHTS ON IN THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD by Daniel Berrigan

LIGHTS ON IN THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

In the last decades there have been many articulate and illustrious cons to tell us what it's like inside America's prisons -- none more impassioned and defiant than Dan Berrigan. This latest of several volumes of poems, letters and essays, contrived during an 18-month ""Live-in Grant conferred on the author by the U.S. government"" in Danbury, is a diary. It is full of faces: angelic potheads, wizened lifers, prison big shots, sharks, informers, heroin addicts, political resisters, ail undergoing the same animal farm treatment. Taking his title from Dostoevsky who wrote about his own time in the brig in The House of the Dead, Berrigan pursues his theme of dehumanization; of jail as ""the seizure of a man by the death force of the state,"" telling of his own and Phil's struggles -- teaching, fasting, rapping, praying -- to turn on a few lights, ""not permitting oneself an unexamined pity."" Like Berrigan's poetry, the diary is filled with resistance and affirmation and the gay, impish humor of an unrepentant, incorrigible Jesuit.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1974
Publisher: Doubleday