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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Depicts how the human spirit prevails - for readers that were moved by ONE DAY, I would also recommend A BEAUTIFUL WORLD by Gregg Milligan

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH takes readers through life in a Russian prison camp during the days of Stalin. The character and story are based on the author's real-life experience as an unjustly held political prisoner. Beatings, starvation and cruelty were t...
ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH takes readers through life in a Russian prison camp during the days of Stalin. The character and story are based on the author's real-life experience as an unjustly held political prisoner. Beatings, starvation and cruelty were the staples of existence for the prisoners, who carved out their daily life through exhaustive work camp labor in sub-zero temperatures. Driven to the edge of survival, readers witness the subtle means by which the lead character maintains his sense of humanity. From simply hanging on to a secret spoon to eat with that he made himself as a means of small hope, to the end of the book where he shows care for his fellow prisoners - the main character's focus is not on things that were lost, such as his former life of freedom with his wife - but instead on things within the camp that he finds to keep him going, such as a pair of felt boots or a small piece of bread he hides to eat later. Such perspective embodies the courageous qualities of the human spirit.

For readers who enjoyed this book, I strongly recommend reading an intense journey that chronicles incredible perseverance in the face of adversity - a memoir by Gregg Milligan called A BEAUTIFUL WORLD. As a young boy subjected to severe physical, mental and sexual abuse, Gregg finds ways to keep his hope alive - such as finding a stray dime to purchase a fruit pie from the corner store, taking refuge in a quiet field at the end of the block, and caring for a kitten rejected by its mother. Readers will be struck the pure innocence of a child's heart prevailing in the depths of evil. The love he has for his siblings and even his abusive mother is a testament to its endurance. An unforgettable story, exquisitely written in a searing visual style, A BEAUTIFUL WORLD will ever remain with those that read it.

The strength and resilience of those that suffer encourages all of us to stay the course, no matter what difficulties in life we may face. Look no further than ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH and A BEAUTIFUL WORLD for proof.

And in the words of Gregg Milligan, "Few rise above all the decadence done unto them. Those blessed few leave a great influence of a better day filled with clean hope and blossoming opportunities. We are all capable of leaving this mark - no matter what we've been through."

posted by SarahAnn09 on September 23, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review

Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review THIS IS
A SPOILER ALERT! One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, whether the reader enjoys it or not, is a
thought-provoking novel with a dynamic protagonist and important themes
Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review THIS IS
A SPOILER ALERT! One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, whether the reader enjoys it or not, is a
thought-provoking novel with a dynamic protagonist and important themes
to take away. This novel documents what a day would be like as a
prisoner in Soviet Russia. Solzhenitsyn was a prisoner, and he was
trying to show his readers what his experience was like. I felt as if a
lot of the book was not enjoyable, there weren’t clear plot elements
such as a rising action and a climax, but I truly enjoyed the lessons it
taught me about my life and about life throughout Soviet Russia. The
protagonist’s name is Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. I believe that the title
does not use his last name in the title because Solzhenitsyn wants the
reader to know that one of the basic struggles of soviet Russia and of
those camps is finding any sort of independence. It is truly amazing
that the whole novel documents just one day in Shukhov’s sentence, out
of the 3,653 days that he serves, and this day proves to be probably the
most important day of his life. Shukhov goes through a complete
transformation in one day, and the way he sees some of his fellow
prisoners changes as well. He starts his day by waking up late, and not
feeling well. In other words, his day could not have started much worse.
He was almost punished for waking up late by a mean guard, was not
allowed to be excused from work for the day, and when he got to
breakfast, if it can be called that at all by the little amount of food
they are given, his tasteless stew was cold. One of the big ways he
changed was not about doing deeds for others, but why he did these
deeds. In the morning, he would volunteer to do someone’s work or stand
in line for his gang leader, for the sole purpose of what he would get
in return. By the end of the day, for the first time in the story, he
gives a fellow inmate some extra food that Shukhov had because the
inmate was simply hungry. I found it significant that the person who
Shukhov gave the food to, Alyoshka, always gives without expecting
something in return. Shukhov always wondered how Alyoshka could do this,
but he realizes that giving for the sake of giving feels good inside.
Ivan Denisovich falls to sleep that night and thinks to himself that
this day was almost a happy day for the first time in his sentence.
While there are many other themes about why Shukhov goes to sleep happy
that night or themes in general, I believe that the motif of giving to
give is the most significant theme of the novel and he is happy because
he has learned how to be a generous person.

posted by LEpstein on August 16, 2012

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    Secrets of the Gulags - A True Historical Fiction

    The Russian Gulags were, like the entirety of the USSR, shrouded by the Iron Curtain, preventing all communications for the prisoners really to the outside world. These labor camps were surrounded in secret until Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote and got published One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a story of historical fiction about a prisoner in a Russian Gulag. This prisoner, Shukhov, gives a story based on the experiences Solzhenitsyn had while imprisoned in a Gulag. Shukhov tells the story from dawn to dusk, highlighting the inhumanities of the labor camp and illuminating that which was once dark to the world.
    The story focuses on major themes such as the dehumanization of prisoners and the lengths necessary to preserve one’s humanity in a truly inhumane environment. Throughout this single day in prison, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, who, along with many other prisoners, has accepted his fate and period of servitude in the labor camp, attempts to survive. The day’s events may seem a bit repetitive; however, this repetition is necessary in order to highlight the severity of key factors opposing Shukhov’s survival, mainly the dehumanizing guards (who refer to the prisoners by code name at certain times, instead of the Soviet brotherly title of “comrade”), the malnutrition forced upon prisoners, and the harsh freezing associated with the environment. Throughout this day-to-day experience, Shukhov must endure, preserving his humanity on the hope of leaving some day. This one day seems rather average, but that seems to have been the author’s intention (to make a day which would serve as a representation of each and every day of imprisonment in the Soviet Gulag).
    The descriptive and detailed style of Solzhenitsyn may seem dull at certain points in the novel; however, in one scene, where Ivan Denisovich Shukhov attempts to pass the guards with a small hacksaw blade in his glove, the level of detail and insight into Shukhov’s mind in this scene was really exciting and brings into concept the Limbo-esque state of existence Shukhov and the other prisoners are imprisoned in. Their fates can change quite rapidly. For example, if Shukhov’s hidden blade had been discovered by the Soviet guard who was frisking him and had just patted his other glove, then Shukhov would have been kept from working and fed even less, which would cause him to be unable to work and hence fade into nothingness and cease to truly exist.
    This book reminded me of Hans Erich Nossack’s The End: Hamburg 1943 in that both stories give the cold-cut facts in a similar style and being in similar time periods. However, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich seems more focused on the physical strides necessary for survival, while The End: Hamburg 1943 seemed to emphasize more the mental ramifications associated with survival in a traumatic environment. Based on my reading experience, I would suggest this work of historic fiction only to those readers who are fans of the genre or of Stalinist USSR history.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    A tale of sheer survival and will to carry on, Alexander Solzhe

    A tale of sheer survival and will to carry on, Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    takes the reader on a 24- hour tour of a Soviet prison in the Siberian
    tundra as he follows hardened Russian inmate Ivan Denisovich.
    Solzhenitsyn gives the reader a third-person perspective as well as
    glimpses into Denisovich’s thoughts and feelings. Throughout the novel
    there is a strong feeling of repetitiveness and exhaustion, this allows
    the reader to truly grasp the emotions of the inmates that are being
    held in this prison. I would recommend this work of literature for
    anyone interested in World War II themed history, it gives the audience
    a different point of view of the super power the was the Soviet Union.
    The book starts off with a sluggish mood to it as the prisoners are
    awoken from their warm dreams into a freezing world. From here and until
    they reach the mess hall the writing is repetitive and can be summed up
    in a few words. The repetitiveness of this section gives the reader a
    feeling that can be compared to waking up for school or work early in
    the morning. This can be hard to read through, but as soon as the reader
    is introduced to a few of Denisovich’s fellow inmates the pace changes.
    As new characters are introduced the reader is able to see how
    differently their methods of self-preservation are in contrast to
    Denisovich’s. This is also when Solzhenitsyn allows the reader to hear
    Denisovich’s opinion on the people around him, adding further depth into
    him as a character. The novel continues on and takes the reader to a
    nearly destroyed power plant, where Denisovich and his fellow prisoners
    are forced to build walls to begin restoring the locale. Here,
    Solzhenitsyn gives the audience more insight to the characters as they
    work. Work ethics vary from person to person and again the contrasting
    character traits are seen. Besides their obvious differences all of them
    much cooperate to work towards the final goal, which is building the
    walls for the power plant. This will in turn earn allow them to stay out
    of trouble with the prison officials and they can sleep restfully
    through the night. Finally, night arrives and the groups of inmates
    return to camp HQ, with some unforeseen trouble along the way. The
    action of the novel, again, tunes down as Denisovich dines on his
    well-earned supper of gruel and everyone gets ready for the night.
    Multiple unexpected disturbances wake the prisoners from their sleep
    throughout the night and that is when Denisovich does something that is
    completely out of his character. Overall this novel was an enjoyable
    read, Solzhenitsyn does a very good job of allowing his audience to feel
    as if they were trapped in this prison as well. It does have its slow
    and repetitive parts, but the good outshines the bad by far, I would
    recommend this piece.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    A Truly Moving and Insightful Novel

    This novel vividly portrays one day in the life of a Russian prisoner captured unjustly on account of high treason. I found the novel very interesting because it revealed an untold story in the history of Russian brutality. The history of the German concentration camp of this period is well documented and publicized but people remain uninformed of the evils conducted by people on their own people. The setting of the novel is in a Gulag which is a Siberian work camp where mostly Russian prisoners were basically sent to go die. In many ways the novel embodies the struggle between man versus nature in its cruelest form and man’s to cope with fellow men to survive. The novel was very insightful in that it caused me to reevaluate myself in that Ivan, in the face dehumanization and uncertainty of survival, relentlessly treads on to seek his freedom. A normal high school student may be reluctant to complete difficult and extensive homework assignments and blow them off entirely, but when you have something as intrinsic as freedom taken away from you, then you will complete any challenge despite rigor or lack of motivation to regain such a value. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov repeatedly proves this human behavior as he strives for his freedom, tirelessly working with his comrades, building walls of brick and mortar, and forging a brotherhood with his close inmates in squad 104. He battles daily challenges of sickness, cold, and hunger as well as avoiding any unwanted contact with a guard or official. One of the most interesting things about this work was that it was in fact a reflection of the author’s life experience in a Gulag under similar circumstances. What led me to be intrigued further was that the author himself underwent criminal sentences and was exiled from Russia soon after the book was published. The book itself was banned in the Soviet Union until its eventual downfall in 1994. In any case, I urge you to purchase a copy of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich because it will make you realize that no matter whom you are you can be thankful for your life and freedom and that hopefully you will never be exposed to such a difficult life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    An interesting novel *MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is an intriguing novel of the challenges a single man must face whilst in a Russian labor camp. The novel depicts the hardships faced by prisoners under the reign of Joseph Stalin, and the pains they must face just to make it through each day. Although the novel starts out slow while the author is really making a point of describing the setting, it really picks up after Solzhenitsyn has finish setting the scene. Alexander Solzhenitsyn takes you through a day in the life of a fairly typical man by the name of Ivan Denisovich. The author goes into detail as the story progresses, and tells of the troubles he experiences in a single day during his time at the labor camp. The prisoners must struggle with their daily tasks, and the author does a great job of making the readers feel sympathy towards them as they go through just one of the many days they are kept there.
    Although the novel is not necessarily a "nail biter", it is quite emotional as you follow the men that are affected by the terrible conditions faced in the Russian labor camps. For those of you who really enjoy historical or political novels, then this short novel will surely keep you entertained. If you are the type of reader who needs to be kept on the edge of his or her seat, then "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" probably is not the right book for you. Although this novel probably wouldn't be my first choice because I would normally find these books to be somewhat of a bore to me, the author managed to keep my (relatively fleeting) attention on the novel. Solzhenitsyn pulls you into the suspense felt by the prisoners as they attempt smuggle items ranging from things such as extra cloth to keep them warm at night and on the fields, to extra food to keep them healthy and able to put up with the amount of work they are forced to do. He helps us to feel the joy Shukhov experiences after he is rewarded for his hard work, and also helps us feel the fear the prisoners experience from the mere thought of "the hole". The author has earned my respect as someone who can not only write a novel that is informative and emotional, but also entertaining and even suspenseful at times.
    Although I am not a huge fan of political novels myself, I would not mind reading another on of Solzhenitsyn's books, because I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and wouldn't mind reading another one of his books and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this novel to anyone interested in political novels or the aftermath of WWII. However, I would not recommend this book to someone who prefers to have a bit more excitement in their readings. As mentioned before, it is not the most exciting book out there. It is however quite informative and very interesting to the few of those who enjoy novels such as this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich tells a story of the hard

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich tells a story of the hardships of
    Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a prisoner of a Stalinist labor camp in 1951.
    The reader follows Denisovich through his experience in the camp, and
    witness atrocities that those imprisoned in the camp must bare witness
    to. Within the camp, prisoners are subject to attempts to weaken them
    physically, mentally, as well as emotionally. These attempts include the
    deprivation of nourishment, the attempts at humiliating them, the
    replacing of their names with serial numbers, nude body exams in extreme
    temperatures, an extreme lack of privacy, and other exercises in
    dehumanization. The protagonist exhibits the persistent nature of the
    human being’s desire to survive in his will to go on despite the horrid
    conditions of the world he has been placed into and he refuses to be
    dehumanized at the hand of the prison. His awareness of the prison’s
    attempts leads him to take extra measures to ensure his civility and
    humanity is kept intact as he pursues surviving as a human being in a
    prison designed to dehumanize its prisoners. One thing that really
    stands out about this book is how Alexander Solzhenitsyn describes just
    an ordinary day in the camp and manages to make his audience feel the
    pain and bitterness of the characters as well as the slight happiness
    the characters feel when they experience any kind of luxury, such as
    smoking tobacco, getting new clothes, and sneaking extra portions of
    food. The novel is clearly addressing an older audience, and is likely
    to not be within the interests of younger readers. The book uses
    historical context as a major part of the storytelling, but more
    importantly it uses themes of struggle, cruelty and survival; something
    that tends to repel the younger readers. Even though there are only 139
    pages, I realized that I could not finish it as quickly as I usually do.
    With the story not being very exciting or dramatic, it’s understandable.
    In my opinion, a person must be in the mood to read this kind of book,
    if not it can be a bit difficult to get through certain parts,
    especially in the beginning. Despite this, I believe most people can
    agree that this story is fantastically written. The language really
    captures the hardship and harsh environment experienced in the prison.
    For example, if the cold alone had not been described the way it is, the
    reader wouldn't fully understand how much the environment alone affected
    the prisoners. The way the story is written also allows the audience to
    understand the guards' interactions with the prisoners in a way that
    give the reader the full effect of what is being described. Overall, I
    think the story of Ivan Denisovich is worth reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    Isaias Jasso Period 5 August 16, 2012 ¿One day in the life of

    Isaias Jasso Period 5 August 16, 2012 “One day in the life of Ivan
    Denisovich” is a story of a man fighting for life one day at a time.
    Ivan Denisovich is the character Alexander Solzhenitsyn portrays himself
    as. This piece of literary fiction is in fact what a man truly went
    through for some part of his life: Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent close to
    ten years in the Soviet Union’s labor camps and wrote the horrific
    truths about the camps in this book. The title itself begins the
    discussion of prisoners battling themselves to maintain their dignity
    and morality. Throughout the book, most call Ivan Denisovich by his last
    name, Shukhov. The author wants to show how when there is a deed of
    great human value, the person is addressed to by their first name and,
    in Ivan’s case, middle name. The last name signifies that the character
    is being addresses to as nothing more than a prisoner or prison
    companion. There are many interpretations to the title alone.
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn also brings about an interesting combination of
    weather and human emotions. The setting in the story is a dark and cold
    vast land where there is little to no hope of escape. When the prisoners
    start to work, still in the dark morning, the work is slow and no one
    wants to work. As the work begins to speed up, and as the sun begins to
    rise higher in the sky, the “zeks” begin to become happier for there is
    more heat: another way Alexander brings the topic of joy into a hopeless
    place. Solzhenitsyn finds interesting ways to give emotions an equal
    weather and comfort counterpart. One of the biggest topics Alexander
    Solzhenitsyn goes into is how the Soviet Union used certain mechanisms
    to control the prisoner: physically, emotionally, and logically. Ivan
    Denisovich is a veteran in the camp life. Shukhov understands the
    importance of food, and so do the guards and camp leaders. Food is the
    biggest manipulator for a prisoner. Without food a prisoner will die
    within days. Food also brings about the topic of self-dignity, only
    those dignified enough will keep to their plates and find ways to
    receive more rations, but there are also those that lost their dignity
    and now scavenge for food, even if it means licking the leftovers of
    someone else. Food also makes people act like raved dogs; hence the
    thought process of the prisoner is nowhere to be found. Alexander also
    talks about how the gulag system will give false hope to the prisoners.
    For example, Ivan expects to be let out of the camp after his sentence
    is done, but he knows that the possibility of him staying another couple
    of years is high. This false hope helps the prisoners want to work to
    survive longer and, hopefully one day, go home, but home wasn’t an
    option, only exile or back to another camp. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s
    novel, “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” has many interpretations
    but one overall message: enjoy all that life gives you, because one day
    you may never have it again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a truly influential an

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a truly influential and strong
    novel by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It centralizes on Ivan Denisovich
    Shukhov’s life and his everyday struggle to overcome and survive the
    mental and physical abuse he faced in the Soviet labor camps in the mid
    1900’s. he was imprisoned because the Soviet government accused him of
    spying for the Germans. The prisoners must survive inhumane conditions,
    such as “two hundred men” sleeping on “fifty bug ridden bunks,” (Page 7)
    working intensely for an entire day in below freezing temperatures, and
    being fed just enough to barely survive. It vividly depicts one of his
    3653 day, or ten-year sentence. SPOILER The story’s major themes are
    how Shukhov must struggle to maintain his dignity and endure the
    injustices of the Soviet government under Stalin’s rule. Both Shukhov
    and the other inmates frequently demonstrate these topics throughout the
    novel. The prisoners are dehumanized and treated like slaves or animals,
    and instead of being referred to by their name they are identified by
    numbers. The novel begins by describing the warder’s intolerance towards
    the prisoners when Shukhov, or “Shcha-854” is punished for taking
    slightly longer to get out of bed and threatened to be sent to “three
    days in the hole.” (Page 7) They are forced to survive on two hundred
    grams of bread per meal and sometimes are served a sickening gruel,
    which they learn to appreciate because they must eat to survive with
    their low daily food rations. Through determination, responsibility,
    teamwork, and optimism, they were able to achieve their goals and finish
    each of their designated duties in the Power Station. Once completed,
    they went to the mess hall where there would be a feeding frenzy of old
    stale bread and soup. However, Shukhov demonstrates his passion by
    staying behind in order to continue working on his job when it was
    unnecessary to do so. Once he joined the others at the chaotic mess
    hall, he saw how it was teeming with starving savages who were “risking
    suffocation for the sake of [their] skilly, [their] lawful entitlement
    of skilly.” (Page 148) Fetyukov, one of the prisoners in Shukhov’s gang,
    was severely beaten for licking the used bowls. Shukhov earns several
    food bonuses for his efforts and his good relations with his gang
    members, enough so that for the first time he is able to give a biscuit
    to his of the prisoners, Alyoshka the Baptist. Throughout the novel a
    clear transformation of Shukhov’s personality is apparent. He has a poor
    attitude in the beginning of the story, but he grew to appreciate what
    he has and not envy others who were given certain benefits, particularly
    those regarding food. After realizing how much food he had while on a
    full stomach, he felt as if “he was really living it up!” (Page 161)
    While “those who always think the other man’s radish is plumper than
    their own might feel envy,” “Shukhov knew what was what and didn’t let
    his belly rumble for other people’s goodies.” (Page 162) He did not
    complain about missing his family, but instead focused on what was
    important and maintained an optimistic view on life. One of the most
    powerful transformations was when he realized he is not jealous of free
    workers. In fact, he wasn’t even sure anymore if it was better to be
    free or a prisoner after learning to appreciate what he had. The most
    prominent moral of this story is to appreciate what you have and to make
    the most out of every situation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn¿s novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denis

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is
    the story of one man’s attempt at survival in a tyrannical Siberian
    labor camp. Taking place during the tumultuous World War II,
    Solzhenitsyn explores the tenacity of man, the corruption of a Russian
    society, and the fight for sustainment. Protagonist, Ivan Denisovich
    Shukov, is one of the longest standing members in his squad (the 104th)
    whose hard work ethic and tactics for survival make him go unnoticed at
    times by prison guards. While the novel is told in third person point
    of view it is easy to become lost in the author’s narration and the
    thoughts of Ivan Denisovich. The sudden changes from the author’s
    narration and the thoughts of Denisovich create an uncertainty
    concerning the real motivation behind the character’s actions. Though
    the book does not lack in explanation I found myself having to go back
    and recalling that Solzhenitsyn and Denisovich had different thought
    processes and did not share the same beliefs. The author insists on
    placing small dialects between the prisoners throughout the novel during
    the work hour and lunch. I found these areas to be written in vain
    because it acts as a barrier between the reader and his or her
    understanding of Denisovich. Solzhenitsyn wrote the novel through the
    course of one day: it begins when Denisovich wakes up and ends directly
    after he falls asleep. It is an in depth account of everything
    Denisovich did that day. Personally, I found the book to be slow and
    dull. The author spends too much time explaining events that need no
    explanation such as the way Denisovich puts on his boots or illustrating
    thoroughly the ritual in which prisoners were counted. Furthermore, the
    climax was done in such a way that demanded no excitement making the
    resolution all the more monotonous. I found the element of repetition
    constantly present throughout the novel. Repetition was found when
    Solzhenitsyn would describe the prisoner’s routine such as: getting
    frisked, eating, and looking for tobacco. Though some readers say it was
    written to stress the critical conditions faced by all members of the
    prison I found it to be overdone. I recommend this novel to anyone who
    is fine with following a story that lacks the component of conspiracy
    and suspense. The novel is however an insightful and informative story
    about the struggles faced by the prisoners of a Siberieran work camp.
    The author goes through a lot of trouble to present Denisovich as an
    ordinary man even when faced with conflict. One Day in the Life of
    Ivan Denisovich attempts to present the hardships faced by prisoners in
    a labor camp. Inevitably, its powerful message is blocked by the usage
    of great detail and descriptions. Its lack of thrill could cause people
    to become quickly uninterested.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Review

    A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a well written, compelling novel about a man, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, sentenced to 10 years in a “special” work camp in post second world war Russia. Shukhov has already served 8 years of his sentence, and has survived the brutal and inhuman conditions of the camp. He takes things day to day, surviving only one day at a time. This is accentuated by the nature of the novel itself, only telling one day in his life at the camp, because that is how he mainly looks at it.
    Throughout the novel Shukhov faces much adversity, from the unrelenting guards enforcing cruel rules to the constant lack of food and proper nutrition, however, he remains unbreakable in his objective to maintain his dignity and pride in the dehumanizing circumstances he is faced with. For instance, even though he was nearly starving and it was almost 20 below, he never ate any meal with his hat on. He could not bring himself down to that level, where there was very little dignity. Further, Shukhov struggles with the constant battle between faith and survival. Feeding the physical body or feeding the soul and mind. This struggle is depicted through two things; firstly, through Shukhovs fellow inmate Alyosha, who is a dedicated Baptist, and who focuses more on his prayers than his limited food rations, and secondly, through the importance of the bread rations at the work camp, and their essential importance to the inmates, especially to Shukhov.
    This novel, although limited to only one specific day, truly encompasses an era of Russia that was, for a long time very secret. It touches on several universal themes which all readers are able to identify with; the struggle to maintain dignity and pride in situations that are grim and hopeless, as well as the continuous battle for the balance between feeding the soul or feeding the body.
    This is not the sort of book to be read in an afternoon. It is a book that requires, that deserves, time for the reader to contemplate over the deeper meaning that is found within it. It is so rich in context that to try to skim through it is meaningless because, if skimmed, the reader will finish will a brief summary from the tip of the iceberg and will leave it quite disappointed. In order to retain the full content of the novel on all the levels possible, the reader must savour the book slowly, listen to each word said carefully, and analyze the characters actions meticulously. Only then can a reader fully appreciate the extent to which this book reveals not only Shukhovs day, but the universal themes that encompasses it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich Review

    Although the title may insinuate otherwise, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is both an influential and informative novel set in a Soviet labor camp under the rule of the totalitarian Joseph Stalin. Solzhenitsyn’s novel follows Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a labor-camp inmate, over the course of one day. Although it is a work of fiction, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is based off of Solzhenitsyn’s personal experiences as a prisoner in a Russian Gulag. Due to the novel’s immense amount of detail, the story of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov first appeared to be slow and tedious. However, I soon came to the understanding that Solzhenitsyn uses these seemingly insignificant descriptions to give the reader a better insight into the ruthless daily life of prisoners in the Gulag. Although this book comes with its fair-share of boring passages, I would definitely recommend reading this book to others. It is extremely insightful and really calls attention to the brutality of Soviet labor camps, a topic that is not frequently discussed. Throughout the book, Solzhenitsyn portrays Ivan as a hard working, uneducated, middle-class man who doubts that he will ever attain freedom. Nonetheless, Ivan continues to appreciate life to the fullest, accept his life as a prisoner, and make the best of his situation. The fact that Shukhov continues to maintain his positive outlook in spite of his struggles makes it very easy for the reader to sympathize with his character. Ivan, who has nearly finished his ten-year sentence in the Gulag, does not rebel or act out in anger as the result of being wrongfully convicted of treason. Instead, he accepts the reality of his life in the camps and occupies his time struggling to survive. The narrator states “writing letters now was like throwing stones into a bottomless pool. They sank without a trace” (Solzhenitsyn 33). This statement supports the fact that Ivan now considers the labor camp his permanent home, while his real home and family have become very distant over the years. Other reputable qualities that Ivan portrays are his work ethic and his dedication to Gang 104. Although Ivan does not have a superior position in Gang 104, he is a vital member of the squad due to his ability to complete difficult work jobs in a timely manner. In addition, Ivan is extremely loyal to his fellow inmates in Gang 104. The allegiance between the squad members can be demonstrated by the sharing of tobacco, food, and when the inmates help each other out during the body searches. While this book may not be the most intriguing novel ever written, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a timeless novel that fully captures the power and beauty of living life to the fullest even in the harshest of situations.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    Interesting- Joao Marcelo review p.1

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Desinovich is a story whose purpose is to question more than to tell, in my opinion. It questions the resilience of human nature in adversity, the inflexibility of established morals in chaos and the quest for hope in the darkness all through the experiences and thoughts of one simple minded, middle class man. It is not merely a personal, factual account of labor prison life during the fall of Stalin however, it is also a story about identity. While the plot is all about the gruesome and laborious factors which Shukhov must endure in an ordinary day of camp- back breaking work, bone chilling sub-zero temperatures, hunger and deadly trigger happy guards, each of the elements add to the eventual spiritual realization the protagonist has at the end of the book.
    This realization is embodied in his overall assessment of the day " A day without a dark cloud. Almost a happy day." (Solzhenitsyn, 139) So even in a camp where all odds are against him, Shukhov has a "good" day because he was able to see past the hardships with a new outlook. After serving eight years of his term Ivan, because of a sequence of events that occurred throughout the day and a bit of luck, seems to have finally grasped life with a lighter grip. Instead of being worried about finding happiness and home outside of prison walls, he (along with the help provided by Alyosha, his baptist friend) begins to accept that home where he decides to make it.

    The writing style of this story is intriguing because despite it taking place over only one day, it is detail rich. The plot does not matter as much as the details that are mentioned because Solzhenitsyn intends to walk you through every bitter second lived by Shukhov, emphasizing that the events read all take place from reveille to lights out. With that established, the reader can began to create a deeper connection with the protagonist and the supporting characters because the everyday things we in the free world don't appreciate as much is treated as gold in the labor camp world. Shukhov's spoon is one of many of these objects, including cigarettes and bits of metal. It not only symbolizes a piece of dignity which he carries everywhere, but also identifies him as more than just S 854. This book is an easy read as far as vocabulary goes, however content wise it requires you to be engaged. The author truly wants your attention for that one day, to truly immerse in the "valenki" of Ivan and try to make it through the day. If you are interested in political/ historical pieces this should be a fun read, otherwise this may not be so entertaining.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is an eye-opening novel t

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is an eye-opening novel that, as
    the title suggests, uses 167 pages to follow Ivan through one day in his
    rough life in Russian prison camp. Solzhenitsyn, having experienced camp
    life himself, beautifully depicts the intricacies of a prisoner's life.
    The author's style brings Ivan to life as the reader follows his every
    action, and learns about his rationalizations for the choices he makes.
    The book does go somewhat slowly at points, due to the fact that it
    takes place over one day, but it kept me captivated throughout. I wanted
    to learn more about Ivan and his squad members, the family that he made
    for himself in camp. I wanted to hear their stories and get to know them
    better. The characters in the novel are each unique and interesting.
    They each add a new element to the story, while being despicable or
    admirable. Solzhenitsyn manages to capture my attention and hold it
    from the time Ivan wakes up until he finally gets to Reading this book
    really made me appreciate the life that I have as a well off American
    citizen. The freedoms we enjoy, the large portions of food we eat three
    times a day, and every comfort that we take for granted. Continually
    throughout the book I kept being overwhelmed by the depiction of his
    life. It teaches a lot about how to look on the bright side and never
    give up, even in rough situations. I believe everyone should read this
    book to gain a better recognition of just how lucky we are not to be in
    a Russian prison camp. Many of the characters depicted in the novel
    demonstrate a strength and resolve to survive that does not seem
    possible when thinking of the hard times they were put through. I
    enjoyed reading the book, as it is a change from some of the usual
    novels I have read about teenagers in their difficult situations. This
    book, although classified as a novel, is real. The challenges these
    characters faced were faced by real people at some point, and the truth
    of Solzhenitsyn's experiences speak through the book. I would recommend
    the book to anyone interested in history, and even to those who are not.
    It is a captivating read that hits hard with shocking facts and
    sentimental moments, and an overall better outlook afterwards.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    May contain SPOILERS! This timeless tale during Joseph Stalin¿

    May contain SPOILERS! This timeless tale during Joseph Stalin’s reign
    over communist Russia tells the story of man’s daily struggle in the
    confinement of a dystopian jail in Siberia/Russia. The protagonist faces
    many obstacles help him build a stronger mind and to finally come into
    acceptance with himself. From the very beginning, Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    provides the reader with every thought and feeling that transpires from
    the protagonist’s mind. He presents details in very gruesome and harsh
    situations that can transport any reader into the novel and make one
    feel a part of the heart wrenching struggle within the walls of the
    Siberian jail. The characters are in distinct in their nature; The
    atmosphere is created by the humorous, melancholy, and rancorous
    attitudes as a result of psychological strains caused by confinement in
    such a horrible place. It not only describes the side effects of what
    jail can do to a human being, but it also how the protagonist is able to
    do whatever it takes for him to survive and overcome the conditions.
    From the moment the author says “He no longer knew whether he wanted to
    be free or not…and there was no knowing where the living was easier-here
    or there” one starts noticing the breakthrough the protagonist receives
    in just one day. It is incredible how the one “happy day” that Ivan
    Denisovich had, was an immense influence on his outlook on life as well
    as a change of heart and spirituality. The fact that Solzhenitsyn made
    Ivan Denisovich as a simple working class man is so others can relate to
    him and his straightforward type of character. I recommend this book to
    anyone who enjoys political novels and those who like to step in other
    people’s lives for just a day.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich is a compelling novel with enlightening material

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, follow Ivan through one day in an intense, cruel extreme labor camp in Siberia. By keeping the content of the novel to a strict 24 hours, Solzhenitsyn was able to make a lasting impression on the hardships that were faced by our protagonist and how extreme his circumstances were. I especially appreciated the time frame of the book because, since the events of the book were so disheartening, the short day allowed for a more complete understanding of the pain all prisoners were put under. It gave me a chance to really savor the precious few minutes of rest throughout Ivan's day and comprehend the biting cold that surrounded Ivan and the other prisoners throughout their agonizing trudge into their labor area. At first, I was a bit bored. The constant repetition of events through Ivan’s perspective grew tedious while they were still at camp. However, it was when I began to understand Solzhenitsyn style of writing, where everything we learn is first screened through Ivan’s mind, during Ivan’s first meal, that I really enjoyed how the novel was written and how all the information comes across. I appreciated most of the story and, though many of the ideas and themes that Solzhenitsyn used were not particularly new or unpredictable, I found them to be quite profound, regardless. The theme that was the most engaging was the struggle with all the prisoners to find their independence and own, original sense of self. The intense labor camp craved to strip every individual of their independence and, the novel really took off when we, as readers, start to realize that Ivan is only surviving through by striving to keep his independence. The most thought provoking element of the novel was the prisoners’ struggles for independence against the strict, rigid system of the labor camp. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the novel where Ivan and the rest of his squad showed their unwillingness to conform to the prison’s expectations, especially during the walk back from the area where squad 104 worked. In addition, the writing aspects were impeccable because, through Solzhenitsyn engaging use of imagery, we, as readers, are forced to witness the cruelty of the camp. The author uses rough words to conjure up images of the vindictive guards and to allow comprehension of the brutal situations in the camp. In my opinion, the curtness of the novel and the viciousness of the diction allow for a fuller, more complete understanding of Ivan’s life and the yearning of all prisoners’ for their independence. Overall, it is a profound novel filled with bold imagery that depicts the cold, cruel life of prisoners in a Siberian labor camp.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn's story of "One Day in the Life of I

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn's story of "One Day in the Life of Ivan
    Denisovich" is a compelling story that takes place in a Siberian
    prison in the 1950's. It takes you into the brutal life of the one of
    the prisoners, Ivan Denisovich, residing in a labor camp in Soviet
    Russia. The whole story happens in one day, which is a tribute to the
    detail Solzhenitsyn put into the book to accurately describe the
    hardships this character he created went through. As a former prisoner,
    Solzhenitsyn was able to vividly describe the actions that would happen
    upon one day in camp and depicts the inner strength that it takes to
    survive such harsh conditions. He used this book as a way to express his
    experiences in camp through literature. The novel is fiction, but as a
    former prisoner, he was able to make it believable and encapsulate the
    reader in the protagonist Ivan Denisovich. The story focuses on Ivan's
    ability to keep a positive outlook on life and insist that one day he
    will be freed even though he is surrounded by pessimistic conditions.
    Ivan is in camp because he was believed to be a spy captured as a
    prisoner of war during World War II. In a surrounding as gruel as his
    camp was, Ivan finds ways to remain optimistic with little things such
    as a spoon he makes himself to a piece of bread he hides underneath his
    bed for later. When Ivan wakes up he is feeling ill but is cautious as
    to whom is his guard because the penalty of waking up late can be
    severe. Unfortunately, the guard was not merciful and punished Ivan for
    sleeping in. The reader will come to appreciate Ivan's strong willed
    mentality as even as others aroun him begin to lose hope he remains
    persistent on one day escaping. Solzhenitsyn then goes on to describe
    the day that Ivan Denisovich had. He did a good job in portraying what
    one day, let alone 10 years would be like living in the harsh conditions
    that was Soviet Russia. The novel has received critical acclaim and has
    been regarded as one of the greatest literary works in Russian history.
    The story's influence on others to accurately describe what a russian
    labor camp was like helped bring global awareness to the labor camp, or
    gulag. As I first began reading the book I felt it was going to be like
    every other book about a labor camp and the struggle to survive, but as
    I finished the book I began to get a whole new understanding into the
    difficulties it was like to survive just one day in labor camp. Because
    of Solzhenitsyn's graphic depiction, I would not reccomend this book to
    any younger children, or people who are sensitive to oppressive books.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    (might contain spoilers!!) A Day In the Life of Iv

    (might contain spoilers!!) A Day In the Life of Ivan
    Denisovich, written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a dark novel that
    reveals the darkness humans are capable of as well as the inner strength
    and basic goodness that also resides in the human soul. This book is
    very disturbing in its passivity and resignation concerning the denial
    of the most common of human decencies. These include starving the
    prisoners, most of which are not actual criminals, beating them, making
    them work in -41 degrees and refusing medical services to the sick. The
    main character does not seem to be angry or even interested in
    complaining about his unfair treatment/imprisonment. While this book is
    sad, it is not sad because of the hardships visited on the characters,
    but because there is no chance of escape. The reader is not left with
    feelings of hope, but feelings of pity. This is in large part due to the
    fact that although Ivan's sentence is coming to a close soon, Ivan
    himself does not feel that he would be freed. This is shown to the
    reader in his refusal to get his hopes up, and how many times the author
    mentions that anyone who finished their sentence was quickly given
    another, and that no one got out alive, other than those that escaped.
    The worst part of Ivan ordeals is that he is so powerless, so human,
    that the reader cannot help but empathize with Ivan Denisovich's
    plights. Even after the depressing mood and the
    lack of true resolution, I would still recommend this novel because of
    the inner strength that is shown in Ivan Denisovich. This is a man that
    is continuously pushed to the very limits of human capabilities and yet
    still finds the strength to keep going. An important theme of this novel
    is that the prisoners that do not stoop as low as others, such as those
    that refuse to lick others plates have a better chance to survive
    because they have the right attitude. An interesting point is that Ivan
    is capable of keeping his own sanity without sacrificing his humanity.
    This book is also recommended because of its cultural integration of
    what is considered evil in America (and most of the civilized world) vs.
    what is actually practiced behind closed doors. While the book did not
    hint at corruption out of Russia, it has many dark ideals about
    governments. The Russian people were enraged when they read this novel,
    because it is a symbol of all the lies told to them by their own
    government, and the injustice perpetrated by the government. It is an
    interesting idea to think whether or not America also employs such
    inhuman practices.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    An outstanding depiction of life inside a Russian labor camp

    Alexander Solhezhenitsyn´s remarkable description of a day in a Siberian labor camp is a simple yet revealing novel. This novel tells the story of a Russian soldier sentenced to 10 years in a Siberian labor camp for a crime he did not commit. The story takes place during a time period of one day, in which the author successfully depicts life in prison through small details. The main character, Shukhov is a living example of human spirit and strength. Instead of dwelling on the past and where he would rather be, his experience tells him “he knows life and never opens his belly to what doesn´t belong to him.” -- Alexander Solhezhenitsyn. From the moment Shukhov wakes up, the lack of humanity is clear when he is forced to work even when sick and the thermostat is covered so to hide the true temperature from the prisoners, since if it showed -41º they wouldn´t be sent to work. Through the example of a simple task being rewarded with more food than Shukhov´s arduous work, the author successfully gives the reader a sense of frustration towards the ever existing presence of corruption in the system. Small revelations such as being left alone with his thoughts was even more painful than working all day under subzero temperatures makes the reader realize that destruction came from the mind. It is why Shukhov handles himself with such courage, patience and spirit that he would survive. Because of Alexander Solhezhenitsyn´s careful description, it may seem repetitive and monotonous, but it is not without reason that the author creates this mood. It is an exact recount of his experience in which he describes every detail of the day, making it seem almost unending and it leaves the reader with the thought that this was just one day out of three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days that Shuhkov would have to endure. In just one day, the author manages to create a story that will make a deep impression on you. Taking the reader step by step through the daily routine of a prisoner, no detail is spared, leaving you with a perfect image of what human spirit overcomes even under the worst circumstances. It is proof of human adaptability and sacrifices in the face of survival. It´ll take you where you´ve never been before, somewhere between corruption and dignity, dehumanization and empathy.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    I would suggest ¿One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich¿ to the

    I would suggest “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” to the reader
    interested in an unexpectedly thought-provoking work. Alexander
    Solzhenitsyn writes what he knows. As a reader, it is refreshing to read
    a novel and truly feel the reality behind the fiction. After the final
    pages, I found myself asking, “But… what was the point?” But that is the
    point. Solzhenitsyn wants to leave the reader pondering his own
    existence. He wants the title to immediately cause the reader to draw
    comparisons between his own daily life and that of his Ivan Denisovich
    Shukhov. Empathizing with the horrors of Russian prison life seems like
    an insurmountable obstacle from the outside, but once immersed in the
    novel, I found it easy to connect with Ivan on a human level.
    Solzhenitsyn employs a style of writing that pulls the reader through
    the story. I wanted to read more from the moment I cracked the cover.
    Shukhov is such a compelling character, and his small victories
    throughout his day are what I really connected with. We all set goals
    and expect results. Where getting the closest parking spot at the
    grocery store may be a victory for me, the incarcerated Russian finds
    the same accomplishment in managing to get his hands on an extra piece
    of bread. What impressed me the most about Solzhenitsyn’s writing was
    his ability to create a protagonist who was still human, even in the
    face of a monotonous, horrible, and depressing life. Ivan rigorously
    throws himself into the labor he is forced to do as if he chose to do
    it. Even in the face of adversity, he is still trying to push himself.
    In the end, Alexander Solzhenitsyn gives the reader exactly what he
    advertised: a prisoner’s story that spans one day. Upon first glance,
    this approach is deceptively obvious. I liked the novel because it
    forced me to think in order to actually appreciate the work. The novel
    has a subtlety about it that gives the reader freedom to question the
    motives of the author outright. I appreciate Solzhenitsyn’s bravery,
    because he opens himself up to the literary world by writing about his
    most personal experiences. I recommend “One Day in the Life of Ivan
    Denisovich” because of its honesty. Because of its unique approach,
    which offers challenges to an author attempting to develop a character,
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s work is a different kind of novel. When I pick
    up a book I want to feel an emotional attachment to the characters, and
    I certainly felt connected to Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. I was pleasantly
    surprised by how much I enjoyed getting to know Ivan as I experienced
    his day. Alexander Solzhenitsyn certainly makes the reader leave their
    expectations behind, which makes “One Day in the Life of Ivan
    Denisovich” a worthwhile read.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    Ian Chang 8-16-12 Period 2 ¿One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovi

    Ian Chang 8-16-12 Period 2 “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” Book
    Review “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Alexander
    Solzhenitsyn places the reader in the midst of a Russian Gulag where the
    basic human necessities are ignored. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s own
    personal experience’s in the Russian labor camps really shows through as
    his understanding of the daily life is shown to us from a third person
    perspective focusing on the protagonist Ivan Denisovich. The daily
    struggles of living a twenty-five year sentence are intensified as this
    one-day drags on. This book has become a key part of history reminding
    us the entire world of the injustices suffered at the hands of other
    men. Even though the plot only encompasses one day in this hard working
    soldiers life it still provides enough of a dramatic story and
    conclusion to satisfy the reader. Ivan’s day consists of many human
    injustices which forces him to deal with his own beliefs to survive the
    “special” camp. Beginning by dealing with the notoriously harsh and
    frigid climate of the desolate Siberian wasteland and the lack of real
    nutritional substance Ivan begins to delve into his own moral code and
    his lack of faith. This part of the novel provides an enticing premise
    that makes the reader question his own morality and relationship with
    God. The more personal moments with Ivan further the plot faster while
    still providing a satisfying read. His own personal struggles, however
    extreme, can relate to the reader in the minimalist of ways. A reader
    looking for a story to jumpstart a debate in ones head about faith and
    morality would find this book nice grounds for such conversation. Where
    the story does seem to captivate most of it’s audience is the historical
    relevance. “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” has been acclaimed
    and praised for one of the few documents shedding true light behind the
    Russian “Iron curtain”. Seeing the dark days of Russia is enough for any
    history buff or anyone interested in World War II history to be
    satisfied. Alexander Solzhenitsyn is Shepard in this field as he
    suffered at the hands of the communist tyranny. His mind and stories
    have now become engraved historical artifacts treasured by many
    historians. What can really hit readers is the truth and fact that comes
    from the story. We live in an age with small conflicts in comparison to
    the World Wars and stories such as Alexander’s can shock younger
    audiences to the harsh realities of the past. These qualities, which
    attract many audiences, can also drive them away. Readers with a distain
    for history should steer clear from this book. The books descriptions of
    the Russian labor camps and the daily life of a wrongfully imprisoned
    solider make the reader feel surrounded in Ivan’s life, which can either
    be an attractive quality or a repulsive one. The negatives which
    detract some readers from reading this novel are minimal as if they made
    an effort to read through the story they would find an interesting,
    captivating plot which transports them back to a much more difficult
    life. The story makes one appreciate the amenities we are granted today
    and leaves the reader with a satisfying warmth after “One day in the
    Life of Ivan Denisovich”.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVCH is an enticing novel that

    ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVCH is an enticing novel that
    relentlessly keeps the reader engaged in the life of a Russian prisoner,
    Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. Particularly for readers who enjoy historical
    fiction, this novel is a must- read. The novel is said to be based on
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn's personal experience as a prisoner, and has been
    adapted to create a fictional story. The literary elements intertwined
    throughout the story make this novel into a page turner from beginning
    to end. Between the symbolism, metaphors, and foreshadowing I could not
    lay down the book. The setting in itself, a Soviet labor camp in
    Siberia, creates countless struggles for Shukhov and his fellow
    prisoners. A unique quality to Shukhov, which lends him individuality in
    the labor camp, is that although he faces miserable conditions due to
    unjust labor, extreme weather, sickness, and a lack of nutrition, he
    manages to find positive aspects in his everyday life. Shukhov realizes
    that although he may not receive a parcel each week from his family, he
    can create a better life for himself inside the labor camp utilizing his
    undeniably impressive work ethic. Ivan Denisovich's demand for respect,
    constant perseverance, and ability to maintain individuality under great
    oppression creates an exceptional protagonist to lead you through a day
    in the life of a wrongly- accused prisoner at the peak of Stalinism.
    Solzhenitsyn aids the reader in understanding the protagonist by
    comparing and contrasting his character with the characters and
    behaviors of other prisoners. For example, despite the unbearable
    temperatures Shukhov respectfully removes his hat from his head at
    breakfast, dinner, and supper unlike the his fellow laborers. Also,
    closely following the words of a previous squad leader, Shukhov refuses
    to eat a man's scraps regardless of his hunger. If he wants more food,
    he will work harder in order to receive a larger bread ration. This
    novel is a rare view into the labor camps of the Soviet Union unlike the
    plethora of novels available discussing Nazi Germany. ONE DAY IN THE
    LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH allowed me to understand the utilitarian style
    of life through its anecdotes and character personalities. When first
    picking up this book, I was discouraged by the title itself. I did not
    believe this story could be successfully entertaining with 139 pages to
    describe simply one day. Solzhenitsyn lays out the novel beautifully
    with background information, an abundance of descriptive detail, and
    gripping character traits that constantly keep his audience engaged. The
    facts Solzhenitsyn strategically places in the novel regarding Shukhov's
    background and hardships lead his audience to root for Denisovich's
    success from the first page to the last. The resolution of the novel
    leaves the reader with a heart- warming sensation, but each reader is
    also left to contemplate whether he would have the strength to find
    positivity each day in an unimaginably cruel situation.

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