Candiss's Reviews > One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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Jul 28, 11

bookshelves: russia, classics, read-2011, 1001-books
Read from July 24 to 28, 2011

For a story detailing something so bleak as life in a Soviet-era work camp, this novel is surprisingly hope-filled. Ivan Denisovich lives every moment to the fullest, and although he and his fellow prisoners are certainly cynical and weary, they are also still living, and more fully so than many "free" people, I dare say. Each mouthful of poor-quality gruel, each drag of a newspaper-rolled cigarette, each tiny rebellion is savored to the upmost. In a situation most of us would find intolerable, in which many would surely give up or be ground down, Ivan holds on day after day, year after year, not only to his life and sanity, but also to some measure of pride, a sense of humor, the will to persevere...and even what I can only describe as the virtue of grace. While suffering more than a decade of incarceration in the harshest of conditions, where an individual's basic needs come down to having just enough food to remain conscious, keeping just warm enough to retain the ability to move, and hopefully staying below the radar of the scrutiny of superiors, Ivan triumphs by simply being. His story is harsh, but inspiring, and makes for a true classic of Russian literature.
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