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One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich (original 1942; edition 2000)

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,570126356 (4.03)362
Member:matleestone
Title:One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich
Authors:Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Info:London : Penguin, 2000.
Collections:2007 reading, Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:classics, Soviet literature, Gulags, Russian literature

Work details

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1942)

  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. 50
    Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (BGP, chrisharpe)
  3. 40
    Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman (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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» See also 362 mentions

English (121)  Swedish (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
Difficult book to finish, due to the subject matter being very depressing. Luckily it's short. Siberian gulag for political prisoners of Stalin is hard to dress up. Liza Minnelli said that 'Cabaret' shouldn't have worked as it was a film musical about Nazis, but it did. It wasn't really, but Minnelli's point was that deception has to fool the audience to make the unpalatable palatable.
I heard a lot about this book in the 80s but nothing now. ISIS has the media focused on their behavior now as no one cares about what the communists did to their own people during the post WWII political purges. Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize for literature but this book is poorly done as supposedly it was written while he was imprisoned in Siberia. The award was probably given him due to this being the first Russian book published which was critical of Stalin (the author note says that Khrushchev allowed this due to his own dislike of Stalin).
The end of the book has a religious discussion on the efficacy of prayer and the corruption of Russian Orthodox clergy. Ivan, called Shukov, says he believes in God but without Heaven or Hell. Heaven and Hell imply justice which he sees none of in his penal situation. He says that he only hopes to make it through the forced labor to his camp bed to sleep for the night. The prisoners are in the process of building, with shoddy materials and labor, the same prison complex in which many will likely die.
  sacredheart25 | Feb 5, 2016 |
This book is a necessity as a guide on how to stay alive by shear force of will. Painfully difficult to read due to the bleak details of life in the Siberian prison camp, it stands as Solzhenitsyn’s lasting testament to courage in the face of adversity. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Written from the perspective of a common prisoner, laboring in a Soviet camp, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is the semi-authobiographical novel of former political prisoner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It is a simple novel, telling the story of Ivan Denisovich, imprisoned in the Gulag for crimes comitted while serving in the Russian Army during WWII. It takes place over the course of a single day, from reveille to retreat. The protagonist spends his day in hard labor, in this instance he and his squad are building a power station, construction on which had been abandoned six months previous. His day begins in misery, cold, and sickness, yet somehow Denisovich manages to end his day, and the novel with a note of hapiness, even hopefulness.

However this book is about so much more than just what Ivan's day to day life is like; it is a political statement. It is a look at the cruelty and oppression of the Soviet regime under Stalin, when a man could be imprisoned for just about any action, real or imagined. Denisovich was imprisoned for supossed desertion (in actuality he had been held as a German POW and escaped) while serving in the Soviet Army during WWII. Another character, Aloyshka - a dedicated Baptist, was imprisoned for his religious beliefs. Tiurin, squad captain, was imprisoned despite his impressive military record, for his birth. Solzhenitsyn, himself, was imprisoned for supossed derogatory remarks regarding Stalin.

It was suprisingly published in 1962, despite the rampanent censorship of the Soviet era, after gaining the approval of Kruschev while having one of his "anti-Stalin" days. It was later banned in Russia and Solzhenitsyn expelled after the ouster of Khrushchev, yet elsewhere the novel was so important and widely regarded that it's author received the Nobel Prize.

The novel itself is short, my edition only 139 pages, and the writing style spare, almost simplistic. However I feel this to be a reflection of the experience it is telling. One living in Stalin workcamp isn't going to have the time or energy for superflous words or emotion. Solzhenitsyn's austere style only served to emphasize the horror of the topic, and made it that much more powerful. The labor camps of Stalinist Russia rank right up there with Hitler's Death Camps as one of humanity's darkest moments. In a way that no history text could, Solzhenitsyn and One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich shed light on events that should horrify and sicken anyone. This is one novel that should be required reading in any history of the world. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
Short and spare novel describing literally one day in the life of a convict in a Siberian prison camp. It's bleak, harsh and unpleasant but there are glimmers of hope and friendship which get him through the day. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Jan 11, 2016 |
I had to just sit quietly for awhile after finishing this book. The enormity of the message had to sink in: this unimaginable human endurance (both mental and physical) in the face of cruelty, humiliation, as well as most base and inhumane conditions in the gulag, astonished me. Slavery of a different kind - total subjugation by one's own compatriots... I was expecting bitterness, resignation. Instead I found an odd sort of triumph of the human spirit. An amazing read. ( )
2 vote Clara53 | Dec 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 121 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
[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.
Quotations
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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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