Jeff Toto'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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M 50x66
's review
Aug 18, 2007

really liked it

The Signet edition has a great introduction that discusses not only Solzhenitsyn's novel but the strange relationship he had with Nikita Khrushchev, who was forced politcally to equivocate between the merits and evils of Stalinism.

I didn't realize, then, that this book brought the experience of Stalin's gulags to the Soviet public, who had no idea what occurred at these remote work camps. Solzhenitsyn himself spent eleven years in one after he was denounced by a friend.

The novel itself is the first I've read without any kind of chapter delineations - the whole thing is just one day in this man's life. As such, the prose centers on the physical realities of life in the camp: the taste of thin cabbage stew, drying boots, spreading mortar, etc. At times, the level of banal description becomes overwhelming, but the ending casts the whole novel in a different light; even if the narrative is not always compelling, its implications certainly are.

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