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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  85,118 ratings  ·  3,718 reviews
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 unforgettable portrait of the entire world of Stalin's forced work camps, ...more
Paperback, 182 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)
Madeleine Gianna The most accurate version –and the only one Solzhenitsyn authorized– is the one translated by H. T. Willetts. Everyman's Library has a great edition…moreThe most accurate version –and the only one Solzhenitsyn authorized– is the one translated by H. T. Willetts. Everyman's Library has a great edition of it. Hope that helps.(less)

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3.95  · 
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TK421
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
...more
Lisa
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 cons
...more
Brad
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
...more
karen
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
...more
Fabian
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.
Anna
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.

This copy, for example, is "THE COMPLETE, UNEXPURGATED TRANSLATION BY RONALD HINGLEY AND MAX HAYWARD." One Day is "A SHATTERING PORTRAIT OF LIFE INSIDE STALINIST RUSSA.' It is also:

"the terrifying story of an almost unbelievable man-made hell--the Soviet work cam
...more
Luís C.
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov was sentenced to ten years of labor camp for "treason against the fatherland". In reality, he was simply taken prisoner by the Germans during the Second World War before he managed to escape, thinking, naively, that he would be welcomed with open arms on his return. Although he has already done most of his time, he knows full well that it will be extended again and again, and that he will probably only come out of the camp with his feet in front.
Shukhov nevertheless suppo
...more
Diane
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
...more
Horace Derwent
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
that day, some people drink their first beer or have their first kiss kissed

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

that day, people lose cherry or goes 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 pain and a bullet down together into their throat, meanwhile, some human flesh stuffed wolves feel joy under the warm bright sunlight with their nak
...more
Lyn
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
...more
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.”
― Pab
...more
Adina
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.
Jan-Maat
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
...more
Paul Bryant
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
Sara
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
...more
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
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.
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 end
...more
Edward
Foreword

--One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Eric
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
Kelly ...
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
Rebecca McNutt
More assigned reading for my Soviet Russia class. Initially I found it incredibly dry and difficult to get into, but the further it went, the better and much more compelling it became. Solzhenitsyn drags readers right into the struggles and frustrations of its main character, something few writers can do so realistically, and I found that as the book went on, Ivan really began to feel like a real human being, not only a fictional construct.

Tackling heavy themes, Solzhenitsyn is able to write ab
...more
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
Jim
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 r ...more
Shovelmonkey1
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
K.D. Absolutely
I have read so many novels with concentration camps as setting so this classic and controversial book just did not really have much impact to me. In fact, this day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is comparable to just another day in the life of K.D. Absolutely.

You see, there are days when K.D. Absolutely is sick but he has to go to the office because he needs to work for his family. He is the breadwinner because his wife has already retired after 20 plus years of working trying to augment what in
...more
Brad
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
...more
Mariel
Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: don't get your honey where you make your money
Recommended to Mariel by: penguins
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's novel is over wrought like a fence. (It would have to be a barbed wire fence guarded by guards with hard-ons for injustice and big drooling trained guard doggies. One inmate stuck his tongue to the frozen pole on a dare and another can't get his head out because there is no butter.)

Heaven exists in the gulag in the shape of snow angels. Arms flapping hopelessly in the snow shapes of angels. We'll lay side by side and look up at the frost cracks in the ceiling tracing the
...more
Aubrey
4.5/5

Ivan 'Shukhov' Denisovich, I ask. How do you function?

You have spent eight years in a total of two prison camps, consigned to backbreaking amounts of work in some of the worst environments known to man.
If it went down to forty-two below zero they weren't supposed to be marched out to work.
Ivan! What could you have possibly done to deserve such a fate? Ah, that's right. You were a POW in WWII, so obviously you collaborated with the Germans as a spy. So you were sentenced to ten years in p
...more
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Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (Russian: Александр Исаевич 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 L
...more
“The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favors, it always wants more tomorrow.” 1303 likes
“Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing?” 108 likes
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