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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by…

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1942)

by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,456118363 (4.04)354
  1. 70
    The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 : an experiment in literary investigation {Volume One, Parts I-II} by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (editfish)
    editfish: A novella exploring a typical day in the life of a 'slogger' in one of Stalin's prison (Destructive Labor) camps.
  2. 40
    Life and Fate by Vassili Grossman (chrisharpe)
  3. 40
    Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (BGP, chrisharpe)
  4. 30
    Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov (Eustrabirbeonne)
  5. 20
    Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi (Eustrabirbeonne)
  6. 10
    Forest of the Gods by Balys Sruoga (satanburger)
    satanburger: the account of a man from the lithuanian intelligentsia who was imprisoned in a concentration camp by the nazis and kept there by the soviets. very dark humour.
  7. 00
    Without you, there is no us by Suki Kim (bks1953)
  8. 00
    Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number by Jacobo Timerman (eromsted)

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English (113)  Swedish (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (118)
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, published in 1962. During the seventies, when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was hitting headlines, I read most of his works. Some, like The Gulag Archipelago, are long and involved, and written to make people aware of what was going on in the USSR. But one of his smaller novels hit me the hardest. Denisovich is an account of life in a forced labour camp, and therefore of Stalinist repression. The book graphically illustrates what was happening behind the iron curtain – why people were thrown into camps and what happened to them there. Probably more than his longer non-fiction accounts, this was the book that forced the West to stop ignoring violent breaches of human rights behind the “iron-curtain.” Strangely, though, what struck me about it was its optimism, its emphasis on hope. I most clearly remember the scenes when, for instance, Ivan managed to gain a cigarette and inhaled the sweet smoke deep into his lungs. It seemed to sum up how humans will always seek something to cling to and make the most of the tiniest moments of joy. ( )
  ninahare | Oct 27, 2015 |
So I read this for school, and it's not that I didn't like it, but it was a really boring book. Like it was interesting as a topic, but like that's the extent of it. The characters were hard to distinguish from one another, except the main character, but of course his name is different IN the book than his actual name. It was also extremely repetitive, I mean like I get it we are seeing a day in his life, and that would have been a horrible life, but it was still extremely repetitive. So I mean as a book for school and given the topic I read it for, it's not bad, but I would not have chosen to read this on my own. ( )
  thatgirlbookworm | Aug 5, 2015 |
A political prisoner with a ten-year prison camp sentence, Ivan's an remarkable fellow and a friend you'd like to have there: resourceful and quick-thinking, mindful of others and willing to share (within reason), a good assessor of risks and opportunities, proud of his skills and of a job well done even when it's being forced upon him. His enemy is not the camp guards, who are just as unhappy to be present as the prisoners they watch. The true enemy is the penetrating cold. If you haven't experienced minus thirty weather then it's hard to grasp what working in it all day would be like, let alone with so little opportunity to shelter from it. Canadian or not, I don't care for more than a few minutes of it. Standing only next in line to the cold is hunger. Ivan measures every gram with his eyes, counts every spoonful, every lick, every crumb, leaving nothing to waste.

He is very philosophical about his dilemma. He doesn't place too much hope on getting out when his time is served, where that kind of hope can kill a man. He takes each day at a time, finds blessings in the smallest pieces of luck. It's a reversal of the life I know. From dawn until dusk it's the things that go wrong which stand out to me as I judge how good my day was. Ivan lives in a world of wrongs, and so he measures by what goes unexpectedly right.

I'm astonished this got past Soviet regime censors in 1962. There's bold-faced anti-government dialogue and social commentary that I never guessed they'd allow after other authors like Bulgakov were reduced to skulking around in metaphor (possibly restored for this edition? I read there was some censoring.) Its publication is symbolic of the Soviet Russia that emerged from beneath the shadow of Stalin under Khrushchev and kept ebbing all the way to 1991. ( )
1 vote Cecrow | Jul 21, 2015 |
At the end of the Second World War, when the Russian soldiers were released from prison camps in Germany, Stalin accused them of being spies and sentenced them to prison in Siberia. Along with them many political prisoners were also imprisoned in Siberia.

This novel describes on day in this prison camp, told from the point of view of a common prisoner who previously was a farmer and now in his ninth year in the camp.

This novel made a great splash in USSR at the time of it's release in the seventies. Being a third person I see it as a story of a man in a prison camp. It is a survival story.

A 3/5 read. ( )
  mausergem | Jun 19, 2015 |
This book is bleak. Perhaps unbearingly bleak.

Solzhenitsyn details a day in the gulag in the early 50's. I found it easy to forget that these conditions were a reality a mere fifty or sixty years ago. Ivan Denisovich, the protaganist, manages to keep a clean conscience while being masterful in his manipulation of others. He knows the truth: you need to be crafty in order to survive the long, ten-year sentence.

The monotony and length of his sentence is reflected in the physical act of reading this book: while the words chronicle solely a single day from bell to bell, the book itself has no chapters, page breaks, or markers to indicate progress. There is no stopping point to take stock; the only option is to continue going. Sound familiar? Because of this, I was exhausted once I finished the book... I wanted to lie down, watch TLC for a couple mindless hours, take a leisurely nap, and *maybe* do some light Nicholas Sparks reading. I couldn't help but feel in the back of my mind that perhaps this is what Solzhenitsyn intended. The monotony, the cold, and the utter grimness of existence were reflected in every word of the novel.

You don't win the Nobel Prize in Literature for nothing, and Solzhenitsyn penned a masterpiece--which, I'm sure, is all the more beautiful in Russian with its 'jail talk' and peasant colloqialisms.

( )
1 vote Proustitutes | Jun 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
This quiet tale has struck a powerful blow against the return of the horrors of the Stalin system. For Solzhenitsyn's words burn like acid.

» Add other authors (267 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Solzhenitsyn, Alexanderprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parker, RalphTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kalb, Marvin L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahtela, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tvardosky, AlexanderForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valiulina, SanaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Theun deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zelma, GeorgiCover photographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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[Translator's Dedication] To my grandson, Dmitri Ivanovich, with thoughts of the future
First words
As usual, at five o'clock that morning reveille was sounded by the blows of a hammer on a length of rail hanging up near the staff quarters.
Apart from sleep, the only time a prisoner lives for himself is ten minutes in the morning at breakfast, five minutes over dinner, and five at supper.
There was truth in that. Better to growl and submit. If you were stubborn they broke you.
You should rejoice that you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul.
When you’re cold, don’t expect sympathy from someone who’s warm.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine editions that include other works, or critical companions and study guides (such as Monarch Notes Study Guides) with this original 1962 novel. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374529523, Paperback)

Solzhenitsyn's first book, this economical, relentless novel is one of the most forceful artistic indictments of political oppression in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The simply told story of a typical, grueling day of the titular character's life in a labor camp in Siberia, is a modern classic of Russian literature and quickly cemented Solzhenitsyn's international reputation upon publication in 1962. It is painfully apparent that Solzhenitsyn himself spent time in the gulags--he was imprisoned for nearly a decade as punishment for making derogatory statements about Stalin in a letter to a friend.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Ivan Denisovich is a prisoner in a Soviet labor camp who faces daily hardships and struggles to maintain his humanity.

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141184744, 0141045353

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