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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: A…

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: A Novel (original 1942; edition 2005)

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Title:One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: A Novel
Authors:Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2005), Paperback, 182 pages
Collections:Your library

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

1960s (107)
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English (128)  Swedish (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All (133)
Showing 1-5 of 128 (next | show all)
  publiusdb | Jan 10, 2017 |
The most striking aspect of this novel is its ability to extract humanity from the minutiae of what would otherwise be an expectedly harrowing experience of the Soviet Gulag. Make no mistake, it is still a recount of the latter, but Solzhenitsyn manages to highlight this by the very act of juxtaposing it with what a "great" day Ivan Denisovich manages to have despite his circumstances.

Every day is torturously the same but some days, instead of one bowl of unfilling gruel, you might get two; instead of being sent to work outdoors exposed to -27 degrees, you get to build a wall - and a good job of it too! - inside an uninsulated, windowless, doorless house; instead of receiving a care package from your family whom you haven't seen for eight years because you'd rather they benefit than the officials you'd have to bribe to receive the package, you might get a bit of a sausage from someone else's for doing them a favour.

And it's days like these that allow you to stash a little bit of what passes for bread inside your mattress. And it's days like these that allow your hidden bread to be overlooked in the daily checks by the guards. And it's days like these that makes Solzhenitsyn's message even more powerful than it'd be if he went the worst or even the most average day of Ivan Denisovich's sentence. And what a great day it is. ( )
1 vote kitzyl | Oct 31, 2016 |
"Here lads we live by the law of the taiga. But even here people manage to live.", 29 April 2013
sally tarbox

This review is from: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Bleak and horrific expose of Stalin's gulags of the 1950s, this follows one inmate from waking in a barrack hut, with its 'window panes on which the frost lay two fingers thick.' After a grim breakfast, the work parties are sent out into temperatures of up to -40 C:
'It was still dark, though in the east the sky was beginning to glow with a greenish tint. A light but piercing breeze came to meet them from the rising sun.
There is nothing as bitter as this moment when you go out to the morning muster - in the dark, in the cold, with a hungry belly, to face a whole day of work. You lose your tongue. You lose all desire to speak to anyone.'
Our protagonist, Shukhov, is totally focussed on not 'going under'; a few minutes near a fire, helping another inmate in the hope he'll share his parcel from home, swiping a bit of metal to make a knife, getting an extra bowl of soup. Shukhov knows how to play the system, lifting his hat to his superiors, careful to avoid the cells ('Ten days "hard" in the cells - if you sat them out to the end your health would be ruined for the rest of your life. TB and nothing but hospital for you till you croaked.') but able to stand up for himself among his peers.
Probably the most horrifying aspect of this animal-like existence, where inmates can only think of survival, is its sameness for huge chunks of time. Shukhov is in for 10 years but some face sentences of 25 years. As Solzhenitsyn so movingly concludes:
'There were three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days like that in his stretch. From the first clang of the rail to the last clang of the rail.
The three extra days were for leap years.' ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
I first read this book years ago right after I finished school and got a job as a hod carrier (a mason's laborer). That was one hell of a tough job, but after reading this book my life sure looked a whole lot brighter. I still have the same copy but it's a bit more tattered these days from the times I've re-read it over the years. If you haven't read this book, no matter what genre you prefer, do yourself a favor and read it.
( )
1 vote Garrison0550 | May 10, 2016 |
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov (#S 854) is a prisoner in a Stalinist work camp in Siberia with only two years left on his sentence. This is one day in his life, from reveille to lights-out. It has been called extraordinary and I couldn't agree more. Ivan is the very picture of bravery, hope and above all, survival. Solzhenitsyn relentlessly reminds the reader of the Siberian bitter winters by using variations of words like frost, ice, snow, chill, freeze and cold over 120 times. Added to that is the constant lack of warmth (mentioned another 25 times). While Solzhenitsyn is reminding readers of the cold, Shukov is stressing the importance of flying under the radar; avoiding detection and unwanted attention. Whether he is squirreling away food or tools he is careful not to rock the boat. He knows his fate can be altered in the blink of an eye or the time it takes for a guard to focus on him. ( )
1 vote SeriousGrace | May 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 128 (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 (265 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
Willetts, H. T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willetts, Harry T.Translatorsecondary 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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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