This is one of the most graphic, disturbing descriptions of the effects of severe hunger I have seen, written by a man who witnessed it in extreme situations of war and death camps. It makes a mockery of the common throw away line of ‘I’m starving …’ when in fact we are only mildly peckish.
‘Molecule by molecule, hunger squeezes out the fats and proteins from each cell. Hunger softens the bones, twists the legs of children with rickets, thins the blood, stiffens the muscles, makes the head spin, gnaws at the nerves. Hunger weighs down the soul, drives away joy and faith, destroys thought and engenders submissiveness, base cruelty, indifference and despair.’
Source: Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman; trans. Robert Chandler (New York: New York Review Books, 2006 (1985)), p. 556
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