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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by…
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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
9,982163437 (4.03)418
  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. 10
    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 418 mentions

English (150)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn tells the story of a man sentenced to ten years in a Russian work camp for being a spy, even though the accusation is false. However, Ivan is wise enough not to make waves or he might find another ten years put on top of his existing sentence. He also knows that extra years might be slapped on him anyway, because the Soviet would never trust him again and they wouldn’t want him returning to those “bad habits”. When, or if, he was released, he knew he could be sent to an even worse place, so he actually talks himself into not wanting to leave the camp. Going home was something he felt would probably never happen, so it would be better to stay where he was – in a situation he had learned to cope with and live in – than be sent to that worst place.

The story is not filled with suspense and twists and turns. This story holds a reader for another reason – it is character driven. The reader feels for this man (and his companions) and wants to get through the day with them.

The one thing that was very clear to me was how it shows humans adapt to their surroundings and learn how to survive even the most inhuman situations. When a person can find good fortune in receiving a few grams of stale bread and a ladle of something that resembles dish washing water each day, it should make the people of today appreciate what they have.

The book is just one long chapter, with not even a single scene break. At first, I found this irritating, but I got used to it. The writing is a little confusing. One moment the viewpoint was third person and then suddenly it turned to first person. The main character had two names and for a long time I wondered where Ivan Denisovich fit into the story as I didn’t realise I was reading about him because of this other name being used. (I’m not sure if I missed the connection at the beginning of the story or not. I did skim through those early pages again, but found nothing that made it clear. Maybe the confusion came about in the translation.)

Even with the confusion, I found this story interesting, which shows content is important. It made me wonder how well I would cope in a similar situation! I suspect not terribly well.

Anyway, this is a book I would not have picked up without recommendation, which proves – once again – a book cannot be judged by its cover.

Recommended. ( )
  KarenLeeField | Mar 13, 2019 |
Grim. Grim and cold. Grim but beautiful. ( )
  gturkington | Feb 18, 2019 |
As its title implies, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich follows a typical zek in a Soviet prison camp through a single day of his 10 year sentence. It's an "almost happy" day for Shukhov or Shcha-854, as he's known in the camp, as nothing really bad happens to him and he manages to get a little extra food and some tobacco. Still, the course of the day from sunup to lights out reveals the essential pointlessness and casual cruelty of the Gulag. Recommended. ( )
  akblanchard | Feb 6, 2019 |
This book is well written and is informative. It describes a day in a gulag in Siberia. It allows you to see into the minds of the prisoners. It also allows us to reflect on our own lives in relationship to the prisoners. I think this is an excellent book. ( )
1 vote GlennBell | Jan 29, 2019 |
This short book of 138 pages describes exactly what the title says, one day in the life of a political prisoner in a Siberian gulag. Life is definitely tough and brutal and one sees all kinds: the sad, tough, ignorant, smart, kind, thief, etc. Ivan tends toward the kind; but in his soul he realizes he will never go home. This is in novel form but largely Solzhenitsyn's autobiography ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Jan 19, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (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 (88 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Solzhenitsyn, Alexanderprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kalb, Marvin L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahtela, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, RalphTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shonk, KatherineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tvardovsky, AlexanderForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valiulina, SanaAfterwordsecondary 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.
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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Haiku summary
Secret mattress holes /
Trowel, mortar, checking string /
Salt pork bribery

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 10 descriptions)

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

» see all 13 descriptions

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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.

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