- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (August 4, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451228146
- ISBN-13: 978-0451228147
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 527 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Reprint Edition
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A masterpiece...Squarely in the mainstream of Russia’s great literary traditions.”—The Nation
“An extraordinary human document.”—Moscow’s Daily Mail
“Cannot fail to arouse bitterness and pain in the heart of the reader. A literary and political event of the first magnitude.”—New Statesman
“Stark...the story of how one falsely accused convict and his fellow prisoners survived or perished in an arctic slave labor camp after the war.”—Time
“Both as a political tract and as a literary work, it is in the Doctor Zhivago category.”—Washington Post
“Dramatic...outspoken...graphically detailed...a moving human record.”—Library Journal
Top customer reviews
Reading Russian the works of Russian writers (and watching Russian movies, for that matter) is a different experience (and an acquired taste), but I found Solzhenitsyn to be a vivid storyteller. A short novel that consists of a single chapter detailing one miserable day of gulag life certainly provides food for thought regarding the cruelty the Soviet system routinely subjected its citizens … even after liberating them from Nazi brutality.
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is deemed a spy after being captured by the Germans during World War II and is sentenced to ten years at a labor camp. Although innocent of the charges, he is helpless and must simply endure a decade of hard labor in a remote prison camp; the book gives readers an idea of the drudgery associated with a typical day at the camp. From the very beginning, with Shukhov waking up feeling sick, we realize that every day, simple decisions will result in consequences as Shukhov opts to work even though he’s sick. As the day begins, the other members of Shukhov’s “team” of fellow prisoners are introduced … each possessing a uniqueness that factors into the day’s events. The setting is bleak: aside from the bitter cold and snow, there is the image of the prisoners living in tattered clothing and filth (foot rags for socks and sawdust-filled mattresses). With the work for the day centering on the construction of a brick wall, the hierarchy among Shukhov’s team becomes evident and the individual personalities of the prisoners comes to light. It doesn’t take long to realize that the purpose behind every action of every day affects the one thing that matters most … food. The beginning of the book details the meticulous care Shukhov takes in hiding a crust of bread in his mattress as an emergency ration if the day’s events don’t result in an adequate ration of food. That sliver of bread is referenced throughout the book. Whether it be garnering favor from the team leader, working harder, stealing or “cadging”, each inmate uses whatever tool or skill he possesses to survive
While the title makes it clear that the entire book details a single day, Solzhenitsyn makes that day seem like eternal misery. Every aspect of the story evokes something unpleasant and serves as a powerful image of the depressing reality of the Soviet system. Anything and everything can be construed as a “crime against the State” ... innocence can’t be proven. The sun shines, but offers no warmth. The barracks are cold, the men filthy and the food is inedible. Even the utilitarian wall being built offers no sense of purpose other than giving the prisoners something to do. The end of the book drives home the feeling of futility involved with surviving one day of a 10 year sentence. For Shukhov, this particular day worked in his favor, but we’re left wondering what the next day will bring … or the day after. We sense that each day presents the same challenges, but yields different results and the struggle to survive is as much mental as it is physical.
While I was initially hesitant to read this book, I quickly became engrossed in the story being told and found it hard to put down. Solzhenitsyn effectively captures the depressing and oppressive nature of Soviet rule.
I think that this book should be required reading for every high school kid, every convict in prison, every prison guard, and anyone who has given up hope.
There is a movie released in 1970. Can find it in VHS, $38 to $130 used. Think I will stick to the book until I win the Lotto Jackpot.
"He began eating. First he just drank the juice, spoon after spoon . The warmth spread through his body, his insides greeted that skilly with a joyful fluttering. This was it! This was good ! This was the brief moment for which a zek lives."
This classic is about a Russian prison. Predictability = Historic Accuracy.