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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962)

by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,800183454 (4.04)465
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich brilliantly portrays a single day, any day, in the life of a single Russian soldier who was captured by the Germans in 1945 and who managed to escape a few days later. Along with millions of others, this soldier was charged with some sort of political crime, and since it was easier to confess than deny it and die, Ivan Denisovich "confessed" to "high treason" and received a sentence of 10 years in a Siberian labor camp.… (more)
  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
    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.
  6. 20
    If This Is a Man by Primo Levi (Eustrabirbeonne)
  7. 11
    If This Is a Man / The Truce by Primo Levi (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Levi's memoir of Auschwitz is more 'literary', longer and bleaker, but both are gripping and extremely well written.
  8. 00
    The Day Will Pass Away: The Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard: 1935-1936 by Ivan Chistyakov (meggyweg)
  9. 00
    Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim (bks1953)
  10. 00
    Prisoner without a Name, Cell without a Number by Jacobo Timerman (eromsted)
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» See also 465 mentions

English (171)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (182)
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
Well-written. Not a fave, but I learned some things through it. ( )
  MBTC | Jul 9, 2022 |
One Day of Щ-854*
Review of the Recorded Books audiobook edition (Audible 2013, original 1982?) narrated by Frank Muller and translated in 1963 by Ralph Parker from the Russian language original "Один день из жизни Ивана Денисовича" (One Day of Ivan Denisovich) (1962)

I had already read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in my pre-GR days, but it was recently offered as part of a several day Audible sale of titles for $3, i.e. roughly the price of an Audible Daily Deal, so I picked it up again. It seemed especially timely with the current Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine attempting to reawaken the days of Russian imperialism as well as the cult of personality which surrounded Russian Communist despot Joseph Stalin.

Solzhenitsyn's fictionalized version of one day of his experience in a Kazakhstan labour camp during the end of his own 8-year sentence for disloyalty (1945-1953) has lost none of its power over the years. It is relentlessly bleak and yet records the tiny small hopeful nuggets in the efforts of prisoners where a single scrap of food or of an item to trade could make the difference in their ability to survive.

As always, I was pleased to note a reference to characters of Estonian heritage:Two Estonians, close as brothers, sat on a fiat concrete slab taking turns smoking half a cigarette from the same holder. These Estonians were equally fair, equally tall, equally lean, and had equally long noses and big eyes. ... Well, it's said that nationality doesn't mean anything and that every nation has its bad eggs. But among all the Estonians Shukhov had known he'd never met a bad one."
See photograph at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/imageserver/image/%2Fmethode%2Ftimes%2Fprod%2Fweb%2Fb...
Photograph of the author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1953 after his release from the Gulag after serving an 8 year sentence. Image sourced from The Times UK.

The narration performance by Frank Muller was excellent. The original 1982? audiotape source of the digital audiobook was detectable several times, when a split-second speeded up tape sound could be heard. Those were only a brief distraction.

Trivia and Links
* The original title of the book was Ivan Denisovich Shukov's prisoner letter & number. The Russian letter Щ is pronounced "Shcha" in English.

There is background on the writing and the surprising first publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich during the years of the post-Stalin Khrushchev "thaw" at the Solzhenitsyn Papers website.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich has been adapted for film three times.
The first adaptation was a 1963 English language TV movie directed by Daniel Petrie with actor Jason Robards as Ivan Denisovich. You can watch the entire film on YouTube here.
The second adaptation was a 1970 English language movie directed by Casper Wrede with actor Tom Courtenay as Ivan Denisovich. You can watch the entire film on YouTube here.
The third adaptation was as a 2021 Russian language movie titled "Ivan Denisovich" or "100 Minutes" in some regions, directed by Gleb Panfilov with actor Filipp Yankovskiy as Ivan Denisovich. You can watch a trailer for it on YouTube here. Note: You can turn on Russian subtitles, and then turn on Annotations and then select English or any other language of your choice under Auto-Translation. ( )
1 vote alanteder | Jun 14, 2022 |
This was a quick, interesting read. But I just…didn’t really vibe with this book. It wasn’t bad, it was just slow and kind of mundane in my opinion for something that’s 100 pages. Maybe it was just the writing of the time, but I just didn’t really like it. As I said, it was an interesting read. Just not for me. ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
classic russian lit. Gulag life. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
Excellent bok about the absolute despair of the Soviet gulags, it was used by Nikita Kruschchev to denounce Josef Stalin. Who knew how such mundane things such as food, sleep, and a smoke could take such a role in such desolate circumstances? ( )
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 171 (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 (227 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Solzhenitsyn, Alexanderprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aitken, GillonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harwood, RonaldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayward, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hingley, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kalb, Marvin L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Korte, HansNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Labedz, LeopoldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahtela, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neizvestny, ErnstCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, RalphTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, RalphTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shonk, KatherineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shonk, KatherineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tvardovsky, AlexanderForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valiulina, SanaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Theun deAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Theun deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willetts, Harry T.Translatorsecondary 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.
[Foreword] The raw material of life which serves as a basis for A. Solzhenitsyn's story is unusual in Soviet literature.
[Introduction] Bertolt Brecht once observed that a country which needs heroes is an unfortunate one.
[Afterword] You are fast asleep.
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.)
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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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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich brilliantly portrays a single day, any day, in the life of a single Russian soldier who was captured by the Germans in 1945 and who managed to escape a few days later. Along with millions of others, this soldier was charged with some sort of political crime, and since it was easier to confess than deny it and die, Ivan Denisovich "confessed" to "high treason" and received a sentence of 10 years in a Siberian labor camp.

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Haiku summary
Secret mattress holes /
Trowel, mortar, checking string /
Salt pork bribery

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141184744, 0141045353

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

 

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