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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  96,579 ratings  ·  4,509 reviews
The only English translation authorized by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

First published in the Soviet journal Novy Mir in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich stands as a classic of contemporary literature. The story of labor-camp inmate Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, it graphically describes his struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression. An unforget
Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published March 16th 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published November 1962)
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Tytti It's set in a forced labour camp, millions of people died in camps like that, many were tortured. Does it really matter if it has sex or "language" in…moreIt's set in a forced labour camp, millions of people died in camps like that, many were tortured. Does it really matter if it has sex or "language" in it?(less)
Joost Noordermeer A lot of that appears to be intentional so that the day described in the book draws a parallel to the monotonous and endless sentence the zeks serve.

A lot of that appears to be intentional so that the day described in the book draws a parallel to the monotonous and endless sentence the zeks serve.

As the others stated, the translation by H.T. Willitts is the only authorized version (by Solzhenitsyn himself) as the older translations used a censored version of the book to get past the soviet censors. Although it doesn't have chapters, it does have paragraphs, line breaks and indentations. If your (digital) version doesn't have that, consider buying a different edition.(less)

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Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Dear Mr. Solzhenitsyn,

I am not a Russian scholar, not even in the armchair variety. But you have done something magical in ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH that eclipsed this reader's ignorance: you have transmuted what it was like to live a life day-in and day-out in much the same fashion. Think about it: Morning, the same as yesterday. Afternoon: the same as yesterday's afternoon. The night: yep, the same. And this made me yearn for a day when Ivan would awaken and see that it would be d
Some Nobel Prizes in Literature resulted in more trouble than glory for the laureates. Little did it matter to Harry Martinson that his genius epic poem Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem spoke for his worthiness as a Nobel Laureate, the bad press that followed the announcement ruined his mental health.

In the case of Solzhenitsyn, the attention he received internationally after the award quite literally threatened his physical well-being and his ability to live and write in the country he con
I want to appreciate life the way Ivan Denisovich Shukov does.

I want to take pride in my work; I want to taste every bite of sausage, suck the marrow out of every fish bone, enjoy every puff of every cigarette, bask in a sunset, watch the moon cross the sky, fall asleep content; I want to focus on the necessities of living; I want to focus on life, but I have too much. It's not much compared to most everyone I know, but it is still too much.

And because it is too much I can't appreciate life the
it's all about perspective.

yeah, ivan denisovich shukov is in a soviet labor camp, where he is freezing and has to work at bullshit tasks and is being punished for something he didn't even get to do (because being a spy is cool, while being punished for being a spy when you didn't even get to have the fun of being a spy is lame), and it's all terrible with no end in sight, but come on.

he got to sleep late. his punishment for oversleeping is he had to wash some floors - indoors - instead of work
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s been days since I finished this novel, but I couldn’t write a review, not because I didn’t have time but I felt some impediment by the the historical and human complexity read there. The tragedy of the Stalinist lagers( Gulag) is still today , in the 21st century, debated and not condemned by all. It’s a mind-boggling reading that leaves the reader with the redundant head of this obsessive, repeated, and always-equal daily routine, colliding with the miracle of the human factor. The possibi ...more
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moral of this tale: No matter your socioeconomic position in life, or the degree of happiness in it, hard WORK is just the thing to let the hours sift on by....

The book that caused such a general sensation back then is but a significant albeit very tiny beep on the literature radar now. The smallness made big by elegant & overexpressive prose is a sight to behold, but not, alas, a true wonder to read.
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." -- Fyodor Dostoevsky

This book was a good way to take my mind off of my own problems. Reading about the grueling conditions of a Soviet gulag made my daily worries seem trivial.

The novel is set in Stalin's Russia of the 1950s and follows the prisoner Shukhov from the moment he wakes up at 5 a.m. to when he finally goes to bed after laboring all day. Shukhov was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor, even though he was
Horace Derwent
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
that day, some people hit their first bottle of beer or have their first kiss kissed

that day, some people wreck their car on some red dirt road and some of them tear it all to pieces

that day, people lose cherry or go banana

that day, some people find jesus sitting on their bedroom wall and whispering to them "it's alright, kiddo"

that day, some junkies swallow their pains and a bullet down together into their throat, meanwhile, some wolves with their stomach human-flesh-stuffed feel joyous under t
May 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
My copy of the 1963 novel that won Alexander Solzhenitsyn the Nobel Prize is thirty-six years old, and it looks it--not just because it is dog-eared and the pages tinged yellow, but because the jacket copy is thick with Cold War fever.


"the terrifying story of an almost unbelievable man-made hell--the Soviet work cam
Sidharth Vardhan
"“Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing?”

What I have to say might spoil the book. And so here are two quotes from two other Nobel laureates, the first describes the book well enough and the second is in case you feel depressed after on condition of humanity after reading it:

Writer " cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it."
-Albert Camus

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
― P
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totalitarian communism could produce some harsh results.

Such is the succinct message sent by Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his 1962 publication One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. First published in the Soviet journal Novy Mir, and then later translated into many, many languages including English, Solzhenitsyn uses severe realism to describe conditions in a Soviet political prisoner camp.

Literally telling a twenty-four hour period in the life of the camp, we follow various characte
Steven Godin
Solzhenitsyn, a 44-year-old mathematics teacher in the old Russian town of Ryazan who spent eight years in Stalinís concentration camps writes his first literary work, and what a memorable one it turns out to be. It's the simple story of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and there is hardly a detail in Solzhenitsyn's story which, in itself is new. The cruelty, the falseness of the charges, the animal fight for survival, the debasement, the cynical grafting, the brutalizing, the sentences s ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, russian-history
A short novel at just over 180 pages but a painstaking and laborious read which is probably fitting as the story is set in a Soviet labor camp in the 1950s and describes a single day in the life of ordinary prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov , He is innocent, but is sentenced to ten years in a forced labor camp.

The book's publication was an extraordinary event in Soviet literary history, since never before had an account of Stalinist repression been openly distributed and therefore the importanc
Paul Bryant
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, russian-lit
this was like the last couple of holidays i have been forced to go on with my family. they make you do all this crap and then they make you pretend you are having a good time doing it as if just doing it is not enough for them you have to keep saying you are having a good time and grinning like a babboon. so i could see where the guy in this book was coming from. but that didnt make it suck less. they made me go in a zoo which is gross the animals are not really like on tv and some of them resen ...more
Adina (taking a break from literary fiction)
Who needs air conditioning when there is this book? I could feel the chill of the Siberian winter even if at home I am struggling with 38 degrees celsius.
The real significance of this novel lies in its exposure of the political system that fostered and supported the gulags of Soviet Russia. The writing is stark and matter-of-fact, just like the life of the gulag. It is weighty and yet there is no despair in the character of Shukhov. He brims with hope and appreciation. He is grateful when the weather is warm enough that the mortar doesn’t freeze. “It is a good day for bricklaying” he says.

What offence lands a man in such a prison? Very small inf
Nandakishore Varma
Shukhov looked up at the sky and gasped - the sun had climbed almost to the dinner hour. Wonder of wonders! How time flew when you were working! That was something he'd often noticed. The days rolled by in the camp - they were over before you could say "knife." But the years, they never rolled by; they never moved by a second.

This is the reality of prison-camp life: the days, colourless, marked only by toil and the struggle to survive, pass on in a jiffy; but there is no termination to the e
Riku Sayuj
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel-winners

Single Quote Review:

Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble—and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had two huge strokes of luck with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

Firstly Khrushchev allowed its publication in the journal Novy Mir. This is something that should make readers cautious. It was the first story published in the Soviet Union set in the Gulag system, it wasn't a a searing indictment of the soviet system it was something that was considered fit for publication in the context of a society which was making tentative steps into de-Stalinisation.

Secondly i
Ammara Abid
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-to-buy
Bitterly cold wind whips all around me!
One of the most chilling book I have ever read.

"The belly is a demon. It doesn't remember how well you treated it yesterday; it'll cry out for more tomorrow."
-Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Connie G
During the Stalin regime, people were sentenced to hard labor for the flimsiest reasons. I wondered why the author focused on just one single day in a grim labor camp since the prisoners usually had long imprisonments of eight to twenty years. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is in his eighth year of a ten year sentence. Conditions are horrible with inadequate food, warm clothes, and heat in frigid conditions. But he cannot think of the future because his prison term could be extended if the authorities ...more
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
Solzhenitsyn wrote a really good novella that effectively showed the horrendous life of people in the forced labor camps run by the Soviet government. He showed the dreariness and sameness of the days, which must have led to so much boredom and even mental breakdowns. He allowed the reader to feel the cold seep into their bones. He made me hungry. I was completely immersed in the story and longing for a way to break the pattern. And then as the book wound to an end he brilliantly told of the tho ...more
E. G.

--One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sep 27, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like Russian Literature.
Shelves: modern
I hadn't noticed how much this book had affected me until I sat down to dinner. Bear with me. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch is a fascinating story in light of its historical context. While reading the book I had a hard time reminding myself that this story didn't take place in some nineteenth century prison, but in the nineteen fifties. The life that these men live is hard, grueling, and for that Ivan describes his day as a good one. One in three thousand six hundred and fifty three da ...more
This is supposed to be a full, uncensored version unlike the originals & done by a better translator. According to the foreword, there's not a lot of change, just some sentiments & details that wouldn't have made it originally. It's been too long since I read my old paperback copy for me to tell if that was the same or not, though. It doesn't really matter, this is an incredibly moving & perceptive novel. Since it's a 50 year old classic, I'm not going to worry about spoilers in my review nor do ...more
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm slowly getting sucked into the world of audiobooks and loving them more and more, but I nearly abandoned this one. I am glad I didn't, though.

This Blackstone edition suffers from one of the most painful voices I have ever heard -- some guy named Richard Brown. He has a nasally, whiny, smoke-too-much voice that grates the ears the way skin grates when a thumb slips off a carrot and gets shredded. He makes no attempt to offer performance of any sort, opting instead for straight reading. No var
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book does exactly what it says in the title. It shows you one day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. This book I found to be a very vivid and thought provoking account of a day in a Siberian camp, during Stalin's reign in Russia.

The topic of the book is so brutal, but the character's are almost made with the utmost hope, and they are able to make the best of each day that passes.
This story is rather short but yet powerful, and sends out an important message.
Adam Dalva
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intense, insightful, brave look at a day in the Gulag, written by a man who'd spent six years in the Soviet internment system. The story of its publication (a great mix of timing and strange luck) is almost as amazing as the story in the novel, but the work itself sings - the lyrical descriptions, the crass dialogue, the banality of the action, the insight into humanity. Solzhenitsyn's canny move to focus on an unremarkable day in the life of an unremarkable man allows us to project ourselves in ...more
Literary brilliance captured in one book, in one day and one man's story. Evocative descriptions of a days toil in the frozen wastes of a Siberian labour camp where unthinkable hardships are subtly diminished by the joy and the triumph of surviving another day. Precise, cold, crisp, bitter and hardened like the tundra upon which the writer stood as he scribed this story. Well deserving of its place on the 1001 books to read before you die list. If you read one book from the list this year, make ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I love the structure of this book, one day in the life in a Siberian prison camp. It's a long, slow & bleak day: we can see his coping patterns and how he lived this day,and at the end, as I set the book down I could feel how he truly kept his soul alive: by his ability to fully appreciate things of beauty during his day even something like the beauty of the night sky. He was keeping his soul alive. ...more
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Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (Russian: Александр Иса́евич Солженицын) was a Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his writings he helped to make the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system—particularly The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best-known works.

Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in

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“The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favors, it always wants more tomorrow.” 1342 likes
“Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing?” 142 likes
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